1. Skip to navigation
  2. Skip to content
  3. Skip to sidebar
Source link: http://archive.mises.org/5094/sustainable-development-privileges-the-few/

“Sustainable Development” Privileges the Few

May 26, 2006 by

Legislating sustainability, writes Morgan J. Poliquin, is another attempt to replace the collective decisions of many in the market place with the coercive will of the few. In a free market, with increasing scarcity of a given resource, its price tends to rise, encouraging economizing on behalf of those who consume the resource. Why then all the fuss about making industries such as mining sustainable? Perhaps the people behind the legislation — the intellectuals, the legislators, and the large business firms that already dominate their industries — form an alliance that serves their own self-interests. FULL ARTICLE

{ 32 comments }

Brad Dexter May 26, 2006 at 8:52 am

“state-financed intellectuals”

Beautifully put. I’ve struggled to describe the “industrial complex” of researchers and federal bureaucrats who push non-market agendas, pretty much financed with tax dollars.

Paul Marks May 26, 2006 at 9:37 am

The best way to protect the environment is (as has often been pointed out) by private property.

People protect such things as forests if they own them (rather than just having the right from government to cut trees or whatever).

Nor should property in air and water be neglected. Tort law has often been abused, but the protection of property rights should not be held up claims of the “general welfare” or the “public interest2 – such claims have been used against private property owners since at least the 19th century (to the great harm of the environment).

Nor, of course, should governments be building or repairing roads.

If such things really are economic the full costs of them should be met volunarily (not via government spending) – and if this can not be done it proves that they are not really economic.

Data One May 26, 2006 at 10:08 am

Yes the points you make are most likely correct and I agree the government shall have nothing to do with many of these decisions, as it most likely will lead in creating more connections for them. Although I believe you are branding the idea behind “sustainable development” as a function of what these agencies are doing therefore making it seem “improper” rather then explaining the overall goal which has more potential as a cause of good. Recently this term has been closely associated with building and their technologies to Improve the amount of resources and energy which buildings consume and give off. Quite frankly this is the step in the right direction due to the lack of overall definitive understanding of the close relationship between the amount of C02 given off and the weakening of our ozone layers, Ocean trends and so forth. So one might think that it would be better to play it safe then sorry, rather then creating a demeaning ideology behind the idea which very might save our “future generations” and global playground. It’s a risk to large to take! Not to say that we shouldn’t act together to prevent these tyrants from taking advantage of these future global connections, but as you know there are many other businesses where such cheating and dishonesty occurs, which is not on such a dotted line of uncertainty, so maybe there is a better fight to pick.

Mike Mischak May 26, 2006 at 10:50 am

“…the needs of future generations will be met over and over again by the metal that past generations have found, extracted and refined. The fact that the metal has been removed from the ground and no longer exists there is not a sign of non-sustainability; rather it has created a permanent and unending supply of copper that can be recycled and reused ad infinitum…” I must take issue with your above statements. If population numbers remained stable that would be one thing – however with projections which indicate numbers will double and then some, the amount of any mineral substance available will not necessarily meet the needs of the population.

Don Babinchak May 26, 2006 at 12:05 pm

Very glad to finally see someone speak out publically. Morgan’s article is right on target! There is of course, a larger problem that we as americans seem unable or unwilling to address. The problem of course is more and more of the sustainable idiocy type advocates promoting their wares for their own self interests. As an example look at the immigration bill (Big business as the primary advocate together with bleeding heart liberals) that just passed the senate. All I can say is hold on in the house! Good luck all. Don Babinchak

Curt Howland May 26, 2006 at 1:07 pm

There is a movie you really need to see: “To Live” http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0110081/

In it, an entire village is told (by the central planners) that they must surrender all their iron for the cause of Peoples Liberation.

They melt down their cooking pots, hinges, bicycles, tools, everything. It produces maybe 100 lbs of iron, enough for a bomb. One bomb.

What Mr. Mischak doesn’t understand is that all resources are limited except information. What was useful for one bomb, something utterly meaningless to “big picture” central planning, was enough to enrich an entire village, benefiting hundreds of people and improving their lives and livelyhoods.

Look at the quantity of metal used in a cell phone, compare that to the quantity used in a 1940-era desk telephone. 10 times? 20 times as much material for far, far less functionality?

It’s also important to look at the shifting of use. Whale oil was at one time a national resource of immense value. Now, hunting whales is done by only a few groups grasping for relevance when they are so far out of date they are constantly in danger of being put out of business by simple public opinion.

Sand. Worthless? Not as silicon. Not as glass. What used to require hundreds or thousands of pounds of copper wire now is accomplished with miniscule strands of glass. That copper is freed up for use elsewhere, recycled into motor windings or other, more profitable objects.

There are always alternatives. Nothing has no substitute, the reason one material is used over another is the simple equation of cost verses benefit at its most elemental level.

Being a geek I enjoyed reading how someone had replaced the plastic shell of his laptop computer with wood. It actually ended up being lighter than the plastic, and much more esthetically pleasing. But it took dozens of hours of careful work, and I do not want to pay someone for that labor when I go shopping for a PC. Therefore, mine is plastic.

Speaking of manufacturing plastics, go do a google search for “thermal depolymerization”.

M E Hoffer May 26, 2006 at 2:06 pm

CH,

Thermal Deploymerization(TDP) is certainly an interesting field. I’m not sure what your exact point may be, though, Changing World Technology’s success with TDP is far from certain.

There are many proven technologies, on the shelf, that could put a massive dent into our supposed supply constraints v. Energy.

Our world is, literally, littered with waste Hydrocarbons and under-utilized Carbohydrates that can easily be used, as a feedstock, to generate energy+various Industrial Gases(including Hydrogen) with Zero toxic emmissions.

Industrial Gas Manufacturers are, themselves, huge demanders of Energy inputs.

There is No shortage of Energy, only a shortage of Will, to de-verticalize our Economy.

Yancey Ward May 26, 2006 at 2:13 pm

I don’t remember who wrote it, but I think it appeared in a comment here on Mises.org a few weeks ago: the writer quoted his grandfather who had said that but for few space craft, everything that was part of the earth before human beings evolved is still here on the earth.

Curt Howland May 26, 2006 at 2:20 pm

M.E., my point being that polymers, that is plastics in so many forms, are available from what is now waste.

One of the basic assumptions of “sustainable development” is that future users of materials will use the same materials that are used now. Even looking at the last hundred years, it’s obvious that usage changes and therefore the very basis of “sustainable development” is false. It’s like arguing that “we will run out of oil”. The obvious answer is, “Yeah, so what?”

M E Hoffer May 26, 2006 at 2:30 pm

CH,

I hear ya, I thought your first post was right on track. I agree “sust. devel.” is a intellectual fraud and more-”Polaroid-ism”.

shillpa May 27, 2006 at 12:51 am

Aren’t we all missing the point here? Such proclaimed “intellectuals” are discussing the ‘ir’relevanve of a definition put 20 years back to bring our attention to an imperative fact. We don’t need to limit our perspectives to what Dr. Brundtland could describle in clear words the necessity of the day. Earth is using more resources than ever predicted, more people are dying of paucity than middle ages while 4% of the people are creating 25% of waste.
Without requiring out governments to force us a bitter pill, maybe we can agree with the idea behind minimizing waste and heeding the ecological damage due to mining. Sustainable Development (SD) might not limit to future, but our actions’ ramification on another earth cizitzen, today?
Let’s take a step back at look at how we define sustainable development(SD). Probably just seggregating our wants from needs and encouraging economic and technlological advancement without depriving a fellow human being across the globe would be a more simple definition. Or if you would, learn the “self-supporting”, waste-becomes-resource lesson from nature: as newly termed bio-mimicry. As long as we get the picture, can we work together in reducing human impact or should we fight over who is right and whether we should sacrifice our present in the name of next generation.

Paul Marks May 27, 2006 at 6:17 am

Someone above says that CO2 emissions harm the ozone layer (which is a new one on me – but I am not saying it is wrong).

Normally people talk about C02 leading to global warming.

However, these same people (with the exception of a few such as James Lovelock) then come out against nuclear power – which does not emit C02.

No doubt they would also come out against nuclear fusion. Curt Howland is correct – the Greens are just against technology period (enviromental problems may be real – but the they are not the true reason the Greens are against industry).

Of course cars are a big source of C02 and just because the Constitution says that Congress has the power to build post roads it does not mean that Congress HAS to do so.

What would the Greens think of hydrogen fuel cells? Of course one would need large amounts of electricity to crack the water to get the hydrogen (and that brings us back to the Green hatred of nuclear power).

Laura Adelmann May 27, 2006 at 7:04 am

Thank you for an incredible article.
The terrible impact that Sustainable Development has on people’s lives is just beginning.
Proponants hype the “three E’s” of Sustainable Development: Equity, Economy and Environment.
Equity creates an elite-dictated form of social justice that creates a police state.
An economy ruled under Sustainable Development creates public-private partnerships, in other words, government favorites — and those out of favor are out of business.
And finally, the environment. It is the ultimate Green Robe which camoflages Sustainable Development’s goal, to destroy the American system of government, justice and economics.
We are losing our country, folks.
When are the people going to stand up? I fear never, and it will be too late.

Joe May 27, 2006 at 9:08 am

The comment that “This rush to compliance is all too reminiscent of the Y2K fiasco when every company and organization was required, by law, to devote significant resources to demonstrating that they were Y2K compliant.” (emphasis added) sounds exaggerated. I work in the software industry and I do recall lots of companies selling “Y2K solutions” but I don’t remember any laws forcing Y2K compliance. They may have existed but I don’t think they were of universal applicability (but I’m willing to be proven wrong).

Juan G. May 28, 2006 at 1:20 pm

You people never see the bright side of things. Now that governments are interested in ‘sustainable development’ they will cancel ALL their debts…right ?

Curt Howland May 28, 2006 at 2:13 pm

Juan G., no, because the “sustainable” part is what is being used as leverage to control everyone else _except_ government itself.

This is exactly the same as enforcing gun prohibition using armed police. Government sees itself as the exception to every rule.

Governments themselves will discover the inefficiencies that the regulations impose and then ignore them, just like they ignore pollution laws and finance laws. “Laws are for the little people.”

As pointed out above, the “equality” or “equity” means that social justice is imposed from On High by the standards of those On High. It’s just more government regulation justified by the mess created by the earlier endless streams of government regulation.

Juan May 29, 2006 at 6:39 pm

Curt,
I think that my attempt at sarcasm failed miserably…I didn’t seriously mean that govts. will pay what they owe.

Cheers,
Juan.

Curt Howland May 29, 2006 at 8:35 pm

Juan, no, it’s me. After “dealing” with “Person”, I just was in no state of mind to see humor in anything.

Rothbard did talk about the government simply repudiating the national debt, so maybe that’s how they’ll “cancel” their debts.

I prefer the Sparticus method: Warm their backsides and the politicians will donate everything they own to the cause of the debt they ran up.

TokyoTom May 30, 2006 at 1:34 am

Mr. Poliquin, you raise some very interesting points that it seems other commentators here are missing. Your essay does not specifically attack “Greens”, but rather points to a coalition of “state officials, state-financed intellectuals and … large corporations” which seek to implement “coercive state regulations” under the banner of “sustainable development”. It seems that this coalition has falsely wrapped a greeen banner around itself to fool the public, thus “sacrific[ing] the needs of individuals for the sake of the many … result[ing] in great benefits to the very few, at the cost of the many.

You note that “Regulation, far from being established by altruistic intellectuals and far-sighted politicians, creates government-enforced cartels for (and was conceived by) the established businesses,” and conclude that “The implementation of sustainable practices is condoned, supported, lauded, and financed by the big businesses of today. Like their 19th-century counterparts, they have the accounting staff and present infrastructure to handle the extra costs of becoming “sustainable.” It is the little guy — the new entrepreneur — who is paralyzed by the burden of the new legislation.”

This kind of David vs. Goliath rhetoric tugs at the heart-strings of Miseans, who are sensitive to how government tend to misrule for the benefit of large corporations, and to regulate inefficiently as well, raising barriers to entry and thus hobbling private markets and entrepreneuership. I personally root for you and your own firm, which has gone public and now has investors in Canada and the US, and a host of environmental regulations in Canada and Mexico, to worry about.

However, I wonder if ou can clarify more precisely what it is you are concerned about in the laws and regulations you face in the countries in which you operate – are you suggesting that large mining companies operating in Canada and Mexico are lobbying for MORE laws, mrely to squeeze out smaller competitors like yourself? Are you saying that smaller firms should not be subject to the same environmental laws? Can you tell us more concretely what is meant in a regulatory sense by “sustainable” as it applies to hard rock miners like yourself?

From a pure Misean point of view, I would note that unfortunately modern corporations have a greed to a rather Faustian bargain, by which they traded free markets and personal responsibility for the grant of limited liability to the owners of corporations and a closer relationship to politicians and bureaucrats. The result, as citizens realized that environmental damages were being pushed off on them without adequate compensation by corporations that could pay dividends to owners and then decalre bankruptcy, has been the continuing clamor for government regulation of hard rock mining and other heavy industries. Just look at the billions in damages that citizens in Montana are facing, for example. And on the other hand, we still have politicians selling off the mineral resources of our public lands for a pittance, and farmers, ranchers and hunters throughout the west are up in arms over the rampant ground and water pollution and disruption to big game habitat as a result.

Mr. Poliquin, I think the solutions that Miseans would offer to the problems you raise would be to suggest that, if you want to get the government off of your backs, we need to abolish the form of limited liability corporations and put all “public lands” into private hands – either by auctioning it all off or by privatizing through transfer to corporations whose shares are distributed to the general public. If we can accomplish those things and move environmental regulation back to the tort system by strengthening private property laws (so that miners and polluters don’t leave others holding the bag for the costs they impose), then I’m with you on abolishing all environmental laws.

If you’re not in favor of these things, then excuse me for thinking that you represent just another special interest with its hand out for a favor from the government.

As an aside, let me note that I think you’ve misapplied the term “sustainable development”, at least if you’re talking about the US and Canada. This term is typically used in the case of third world countries which suffer from kleptocracies and fail to establish and protect clear property rights regimes. As a result, the mineral wealth of these countries is frequently expropriated (pocketed) by governing elites for their own benefit, and foreign firms are often both the tools of the elite and exploited as well, but in any case have little direct stake in the welfare of local people. It is this situation that concerns developed countries and leads to calls to multinationals to act “sustainably”. I agree that rather than jawboning multinationals, it would be better to acknowledge and fix these broken regimes, so that resource development does not continue as a relative unregulated “tragedy of the commons” or exploitative practice. Until such day, however, it does not seem unfair to ask multinationals to exercise some degree of restraint, even if as a practical matter than may simply be a waste of time.

Regards,

TT

john blum May 30, 2006 at 11:48 am

Nothing is a resource until the human mind thinks of a use for the “source”. Resources are always changing because people are always thinking of new ways to use things to satisfy needs presented by the market in an attempt to profit and better their own lives. Copper, oil, iron: none of those things were resources until someone thought of a use.

Claiming we are running out of resources is therefore inaccurate. It is accurate to state there will be challenges, and it is not accurate to assume that the market will automatically meet those challenges in a way that is better than our current standard of life, but it is equally inaccurate to assume that unless the state forces people to comply with a set of directives, there will be no resources remaining for our present and future generations.

Sustainable development also assumes that production should largely occur in an area/country of it’s use — that nations are only sustainable if they are able to produce their needs independently of other nations — and this assumption is false. Production should occur where it is most efficient, regardless of consumption. A diverse trading economy, with private property protection, therefore offers the most sustainable development, because it is more robust and able to cope with a shift in available resources.

TokyoTom May 30, 2006 at 11:06 pm

Yancey, whoever said that “everything that was part of the earth before human beings evolved is still here on the earth” is wrong – we’ve played a key role in all of the intermittent extinctions of megafauna, and because of institutional failures (in underdeveloped countries and in global and interstitial commons) leading to “tragedy of the commons”-type resource exploitation races where no one has an interest in protecting resources over the long term, we are also responsible for the huge wave of extenctions that is now underway. This loss of environmental services and genetic resources is akin to the burning of library at Alexandria, and more.

Regards,

TT

TokyoTom May 30, 2006 at 11:17 pm

Paul, why, despite your correct analysis of how to best protect the environment (private property and tort laws), do you still dismiss the concerns of environmenalists by broadly saying that “the Greens are just against technology period”? The “Greens” are rent-seeking because they perceive problems that have been pushed off onto communities and society at large by other, greedier rent-seekers – the big corporations.

There is actually ample middle ground for moving towards Misean solutions to environmental problems – namely, “free market” environmentalist measures that create private property rights and get the government out of straight regulation, such as ITQs (individual transferable quotas) in fisheries and tradable permits in SO2.

It honestly puzzles me why Miseans do not spend more time proposing obvious solutions to obvious problems, but largely prefer to bash one group of rent-seekers while ignore the fat hogs who are largely responsible for the rent-seeking orgy.

Regards,

TT

Peter May 31, 2006 at 1:49 am

I can’t see that there’s anything “Misesean” or “free market” about fishing quotas and CO2 (or SO2) “permits”. In a free market, if a man/corp owned some fish, they could net the whole lot if they wanted, and it’s nobody else’s business. A “quota” is nothing but a claim that whoever issues the quota (some government) is the “true” owner of the fish – pure facism. Permits to dump pollution on someone else’s property constitute a claim by the issuing government over that property. Etc.

TokyoTom May 31, 2006 at 7:07 am

Peter, thanks for reminding me that Miseans prefer “pure” solutions as opposed to practical ones. Given your position, how do you propose to get the government out of the rent-purveying business? I suggest it is better to hack it back limb by limb than to just hope it will die.

By the way, I note Cordato here:

“If a pollution problem exists then its solution must be found in either a clearer definition of property rights to the relevant resources or in the stricter enforcement of rights that already exist. This has been the approach taken to environmental problems by nearly all Austrians who have addressed these kinds of issues (see Mises 1998; Rothbard 1982; Lewin 1982; Cordato 1997). This shifts the perspective on pollution from one of “market failure” where the free market is seen as failing to generate an efficient outcome, to legal failure where the market process is prevented from proceeding efficiently because the necessary institutional framework, clearly defined and enforced property rights, is not in place.

A pollution problem then can take one of two forms, either titles to the relevant resources are clear but the rights to use that property by the title holders are not being enforced, or titles to a resource are not clear and two or more parties wish to use the resource for conflicting purposes. Obviously, each of these would require a different approach to solving the problem. But in each case the solution should focus on resolving the conflict and therefore allowing for the efficient formulation of plans by all parities involved.”

Cordato does not insist that there is no role for government in reaching a Misean solution.

http://mises.org/daily/1760

Regards,

Tom

quasibill May 31, 2006 at 10:04 am

“I can’t see that there’s anything “Misesean” or “free market” about fishing quotas and CO2 (or SO2) “permits”. ”

Actually, free markets have created non-state solutions that mimic quotas in commons. “Governing the Commons” (the author escapes me right now), while not totally in line with Austrian theory, provides some framework on how local communities have historically dealt with commons problems.

Furthermore, the U.S. had de facto fishing quotas before FDR’s programs began bearing fruit. IIRC, there’s an article on this site about it, noting that local canneries only dealt with local fishermen because of a background recognition of the problem of overfishing. The Feds came in and smashed this system through anti-trust actions.

It’s important to remember that a free-market is not synonymous with a forced-open market.

M E Hoffer May 31, 2006 at 10:33 am

“whoever said that “everything that was part of the earth before human beings evolved is still here on the earth” is wrong – we’ve played a key role in all of the intermittent extinctions of megafauna, and because of institutional failures (in underdeveloped countries and in global and interstitial commons) leading to “tragedy of the commons”-type resource exploitation races where no one has an interest in protecting resources over the long term, we are also responsible for the huge wave of extenctions that is now underway. This loss of environmental services and genetic resources is akin to the burning of library at Alexandria, and more.”

Funny how “conservation of matter” principals( a great leap forward ) are used to excuse Man’s wanton destruction of Nature( a grand stumbling down the staircase )– improperly, of course, as TT well points out.

The S&P 500-ization( thank you clueless “Index fund” de-vestors & MutFund “buy&die”-ers ) of our economy is promulgating monoculture around the world that is inimicable to the very strength of Nature, and ourselves– diversity.

That our hubris, or willful blindness, allows us to delude ourselves into believing that our simple reliance on the phony financial-price signals emanating from the State-crafted schema masquerading as a “Free Market”-to Peter’s point-is truly a Dark Age2.0–calling for further Enlightenment.

The “writedowns” we face will surely not fill great Tomes with Knowledge, but, yea, of Mis-Adventure.

We, literally, have a choice: We can–synapse-driven–”Snap out of it.”, or, barring that, We snap, and we’ll surely be: “Out of it.”

Yancey Ward May 31, 2006 at 10:35 am

Tokyo Tom,

Your point about lifeforms is well-taken, but the original comment was referring to the minerals and material taken from the earth. Even the lifeforms extinct need not truly be forever gone should our need and ingenuity continue to grow.

You asked why Miseseans attack the rent-seeking enviromentalist but not the rent-seeking corporations. Indeed, I don’t think you are paying enough attention to the contributors to this site. I see much consistency in the attacks on all rent-seeking entities.

TokyoTom May 31, 2006 at 8:38 pm

Yancey, the hope you hold out with respect to extinguished species is cold comfort. Far wiser and less expensive would be to impose meaningful property rights regimes globally (especially over forests and reefs), rather than allowing elites to convert these public resources at firesale prices to chopsticks, soybean fields etc.

As to attacks on rent-seeking, yes, I acknowledge the attacks on rent-seeking by corporations, but the attacks on environmentalists are fundamentally imbalanced – an frequently nearly unhinged – in the way that I have indicated. Namely, there is no acknowledgment that the environmental movement arose and continues today due distortions caused by governments acting on behalf of corporations. Accordingly, the way to solve the resource problems for which environmentalists seek solutions is not to denounce enviros as Nazis or akin to Communists, but to recognize their legitimate complaints, see their role as a counter-balance to corporations, and to seek to solve the problem by ending the rent-seeking and devolving the resolution to where it properly belongs – in clarifying and protecting property rights.

It is perfectly legitimate to deride the mistaken rhetoric of enviros, but to the extent such bashing is a one-sided promotion of the “fear of enviros” it is fair to view those who do it as having been co-opted by the worst set of rent-seekers, the corporations, and their political lackeys.

Regards,

Tom

Peter May 31, 2006 at 9:43 pm

there is no acknowledgment that the environmental movement arose and continues today due distortions caused by governments acting on behalf of corporations.

I don’t know why the environmental movement arose. Nor do I care. You appear to be mounting the “abused as a child” defense, where some mass murderer was supposedly abused as a child, and when he’s accused of murder, crazy people pop up complaining that “there is no acknowledgement that the murder movement arose and continues today due to distortions caused by child-abusers …”. Who cares? I mean, yes, it’s terrible that he was abused as a child, of course, but that doesn’t excuse his murders in the least. So with environmentalists. Who cares if their destructive evil is “a result of distortions caused by “? Destructive evil is to be condemned regardless.

TokyoTom June 1, 2006 at 8:40 am

Peter:

Thanks for the note, but I think your rhetoric is overblown. Whom are the environmentalists murdering? They owe their existence to the fact that there are continuing property rights abuses by corporations AND government, and are simply trying to check those abuses. If you stop the corporate rent-seeking and solve property rights problems, enviros simply go away.

They’d probably have every reason to turn away from their rent-seeking ways (which were both necessary and successful in th 70s) if Miseans would point out their errors and direct them towards more fruitful solutions.

Those who paint enviros or corporations as sons of the devil rather than people who are predictibly trying to sway a corporate-statist government might get some short-term emotional release, but are simply begging for long-term frustration.

Why not put Misean knowledge to good use by analyzing what are reasonable and achievable solutions to the problems that bother enviros? They often have a point.

Regards,

Tom

TokyoTom June 2, 2006 at 5:18 am

All: Morgan Poliquin kindly responded to an email in which I included my first post above; I take the liberty of posting it here for reference:

“I assure you that for from being David vs. Goliath rehtoric, my reference to collusion between legislators, large firms and organised labour is most certainly a reality. Dispensation to unions and NGO’s does ensure that mines get permitted in many parts of the world and limits mining in general to only those firms in a position to make such dispensations.

I very much agree with you that a system of pure private property is what I would advocate. Since medieval times the State in its various forms has almost always “separated” surface rights from mining rights in order to maximize royalty revenue. We now see separate logging rights as well in Canada. This leaves a situation of potential multiple land use and eternal conflict requiring the State to resolve.

Many of your points are quite accurate, but my experience is that the “restraints” people have in mind actually benefit the people implementing them. Things are not what they seem, but I can tell you that big mining companies pay for being labelled green and sustainable and the cheques go to NGOs. Our firm is not involved in mining, but exploration. We do not have the capital to develop a mine, but should we find one we would be a buyout target for a mining company. It would be interesting to find out about what constitutes the billions in damages in Montana. Mining activity, even open pit, takes up a very small area. The charges that I am familiar with concerning cyanide in Montana don’t hold up to much scrutiny. Cyanide is the most expensive item in the process to liberate gold from rock and as such it is economically not feasible to waste it.

For a bit more information on mining and risk have a look at a paper I wrote recently (attached).

I hope I addressed some of your queries.

All the best

Morgan

Morgan Poliquin, P.Eng
Director
Almaden Minerals Ltd.”

In reply, I noted that, “as to Montana, cleanup alone of several Superfund sites is expected to cost billions, with much of this publicly funded, as original owners are defunct. Just look into Clark Fork and Butte and you’ll see what I mean. As to leach heap mining, you may be aware that Montana has passed laws prohibiting it, given the fact that past miners have declared bankruptcy to avoid liability for damages imposed on others.

It is this fear of others being left holding the bag – an historic legacy of mining – that has led to burgeoning government regulation and citizen action. Even if mining co.s are more responsible today, they still use a limited liability form, so investors have no liaiblity for environmental losses that mining may cause. Without addressing this liaiblity issue head on, I’m afraid that I view appeals against government regulation as asking for a kind of handout, even though the regulation may end up serving the interests of the largest firms.”

Mr. Poliquin unfortunately did not provide a detailed reply, except to note that he had strong views about Superfund, remediation and Montana.

I appreciate his willingness to correspond, and am sympathetic to the problems he faces in his exploration work.

Tom

james b. longacre January 21, 2011 at 2:03 am

there is a new state credit union being built where i currently am that has a sign stating that the building is using sustainble techniques or something similar. bio-deisel trucks delivering materials??? that i am not sure about. electricity from nuclear…that i am pretty sure about (raleigh, nc).
and right close by is a multistory parking deck…for all the sustainble transport cars.

i can understand making things with stuff that doesnt cause allergies to form or worsen if that has been shown to be the case in some buildings. but i dont understand a sustainable building .

if the materials out there are cheaper that arent considered sustainable why not use those until the need arises to reuse old bricks from torn down buildings, using spare carpet remnants, etc?

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: