By RICK WHITBECK
You’d think the Covid-19’s supply chain issues might have been a wake-up call to America. You remember it, right? Shortages of hand sanitizer. N-95 masks and latex gloves nowhere to be found. Pharmaceuticals, disposable scrubs for frontline workers, and bare shelves where toilet paper and Clorox wipes once were.
America, as it always does, adapted. Ford’s factories quickly changed from production of automobiles to ventilators. My Pillow started churning out masks and PPE. Breweries stopped making spirits and became suppliers of sanitizers. American lives were saved because of these responses to a crisis.
That was a year ago. America quickly paid attention to the fact that most of both our critical and day-to-day needs are not made domestically. China dominates the supply-chain, and logistics became exceptionally complicated and risky when China decided to flex its economic and political muscles on those items.
Now, in 2021, Covid-19’s stresses have – by and large – been reduced to back-of-mind status. With vaccines available to nearly everyone who wants them, we’re seeing a return to near-normalcy across the US. People are traveling again. Office buildings are filling back up, with the daily hustle and bustle of businessmen and women spinning off good news for local dining establishments and support services.
But the threat of outsourcing critical industries has not diminished, especially when it comes to our energy industry. Look no further than a recent story on President Biden’s plans to import much of the mineral, rare earth elements and critical minerals needed for his electric vehicles (EVs) mandate. Why wouldn’t the President choose to mine in America, grow American jobs and build American wealth? Why outsource those jobs to Canada, Australia, and yes, even Communist China?
The eco-Left often calls for a “just transition”- their lingo for that the shift from fossil fuels to renewable or “green” energy is somehow good or noble. Lost in this debate, even before we determine if green energy, wind turbines, solar panels, EVs are efficient, effective, or even “green”, is the dependence these technologies are on these rare earths and metals. Just as a combustion engine needs oil, the EVs need rare earths, and we will be getting them from China.
We have rare earths in America. We have many of them here in Alaska, but the same green groups pushing for this “just transition” are preventing America from developing those resources. We shift the jobs, the revenue, the economic development to foreign countries, and, in the case of China, countries that are rife with environmental and human rights abuses. Where’s the “just” part in this plan?
There is nothing “just” about enriching our enemies. There is nothing “just” is sacrificing Alaska’s workers and Alaska’s recourses while rewarding foreign countries instead.
If Joe Biden is going to push a green agenda, he should at least prioritize the American workers and American industry. This could be Alaska’s great moment. Instead, that opportunity will go to another country at our expense.
Rick Whitbeck is the Alaska State Director for Power The Future, a national non-profit advocating for energy workers, while fighting back against environmental extremism and the ideologues who fund radicalized efforts to thwart American energy dominance.