« PreviousContinue »
to make a survey to find them. Processes for beneficiating lowgrade ores will not, of their own accord, extract an ounce of metal, and many of the other “gains” that I have listed are equally inconclusive. They are merely potential gains. We can use them to our advantage or we can let the opportunity to use them escape us. I hope that a more detailed view of what is left of our diminishing resources will convince all of us that we must make amends for our losses by squeezing the last drop of advantage out of every potential gain that we have at hand. The nine minerals that are plentiful enough in our known domestic reserves to last 100 years or more at a normal rate of use, are iron ore, nitrogen, magnesium, salt, bituminous coal and lignite, phosphate rock, molybdenum, anthracite, and potash. There are only nine of them out of the long list of metals that we must get at home or abroad in quantities as great as we need in order to hold our high place among the nations. Even if we had a hundred years' supply of all of the metals that we need, that would not mean that we would be safe for a century. In the games of war and trade which nations play, a century is only a little while. Military and economic campaigns have been planned that far ahead. Consequently, it behooves us to learn the true meaning of our meager supply, which is not that we will be weak in a hundred years, but that we are relatively weak now. Neither does the possession of a particular metal in great quantity guarantee that we can have all of the products that can be made of that metal so long as it lasts. We must have, in addition, the alloys that go into those products. Manganese is just as important as iron is in the making of most steel, and we have only a 2-year supply of usable manganese ore in our proved domestic reserves. So are vanadium and tungsten as necessary as iron is in making certain steels that are essential in time of peace or war; but we have in our proved domestic reserves only a 7-year supply of vanadium, and a 4-year supply of tungsten. We have less than a 35-year supply of 19 other minerals; among them, petroleum, copper, lead, tin, zinc, nickel, bauxite, chromite, and cadmium. Our reserves of high-grade coking coal are low. We do not know just how low because our knowledge of reserves is not yet so extensive as it should be. Our highest-grade iron ore, the kind that can be mined and smelted most cheaply, would be exhausted in about 22 years at a normal rate of use. The past has not taught us how severely we can be penalized for a lack of metals at the outbreak of a war. It has taught us only that such a dearth can put us to a severe test. That is the worst that has happened to us; because we have always had time between the threat of war and actual war to get the materials which we lacked, or to find substitutes for them. But we cannot henceforth count on any. appreciable lapse of time between the threat and the event of a war.
Neither has the past taught us how terribly we could be made to suffer, from a scarcity of minerals, even in time of peace. We have never had to use substitutes for the commonest metals, nor have we paid unbelievable prices for such necessaries as automobiles and refrigerators. But that is what we would have to do if we used the last of our high-grade ores, and had to import metals over great distances or extract them from our own submarginal reserves. Transportation of heavy goods is costly. So is the treatment of low-grade ores, and the consumer would pay the cost. I think that most Americans would like to see us take preventive measures against these threats while there is still time and I urge the necessity for it.
Many of the measures that would conserve the minerals that we have, or give us access to a larger supply, are very well known. We should stockpile; that is, we should import emergency supplies of metals that are scarce here, and store them, and we should add to that reserve from our own surpluses whenever we produce metals in greater quantity than we use them. We should intensify our explorations for new reserves. Improved instruments and methods would make our explorations effective and relatively cheap.
We should intensify our experiments in extracting metals from lowgrade domestic ores by means of new and improved processes. If we wait until our high-grade ores are gone, and only then begin to use those of low-grade, processing will be very costly and uncertain of profitable results. If begun in advance of actual need, most experiments are not gropings after undreamed of methods. They are, instead, very practical proceedings by which well-known laboratory methods are improved enough eventually to make them profitable in large scale production. There is no mystery about how to make synthetic gasoline, for example. We can make it now, but the processing costs about 15 cents a gallon. Gasoline can be made from crude oil by means of a process that costs only about 5 cents à gallon. If we should drop our experiments in making synthetic motor fuel, and begin to produce it after our petroleum had vanished, by the methods which we know, every motorist would have to pay for a process that would be three times as expensive as that now in use. We should continue our experiments in all of our processes for beneficiating low-grade ores for the same reason that we should continue our experiments with synthetic gasoline—so that they will be cheap enough to use when we have to use them.
We should also find more efficient methods of reusing scrap metals, find out how we can induce operators to take more oil from nearly dry wells, and act accordingly. We should regulate production methods so that waste in the process of mining will be minimized, and we
should do all that we can do to prevent the unnecessary use of our scarce and essential reserves. Our continued waste of natural gas is inexcusably profligate. Another case in point is coking coal, now being used where ordinary coal would be adequate, and which should be reserved for steel making, in which it is essential. Above all we should act upon the advice of competent researchers, scientists, and technologists whose official business it is to keep us informed about which minerals we need and how to get them. No list of critical and strategic metals can remain accurate very long. A new alloy becomes indispensable, an old one becomes passe, a foreign source of supply becomes more accessible to us, and another becomes less so. Consequently, we cannot formulate any policy which would be applicable at all times and on all occasions. The measures that I have recommended would help us to strengthen our position, but two other programs that are under way in this Department almost certainly will add more to our wealth and conserve our resources more effectively than any measures would that I have discussed thus far. These are a program for regional development and another for the exploration of the Continental Shelf. The concept and theory of regional development were discussed recently in hearings before a Senate committee, and these preceedings were published. Some of the facilities that could be administered in developing the resources of the Missouri Valley are under construction, and we are making studies that may result in the full and coordinated development of 14 other great river basins. News of these activities has been published, too. Consequently, there is relatively wide-spread understanding of what regional development is, of what is being done about it, and what it is intended to accomplish. But there has been almost no discussion of our impending exploration of the Continental Shelf, one of the Nation's most important acquisitions. If we discount the obvious fact it is uninhabited and uninhabitable, the Continental Shelf ranks with the lands which we acquired by the Louisiana Purchase, or by the opening of the West, or by the purchase of Alaska. And the exploration of this vast underwater area will be an important historical event. We will make new applications of modern science and set scientists to work in cooperation on a scope that has been surpassed on no single undertaking other than the project for the development of atomic energy. Approximately described, the Continental Shelf is all of the ocean floor around the United States and its Territories that is covered by no more than 600 feet of water. The whole area is almost as large as the area embraced in the Louisiana Purchase, which was 827,000 square miles, and almost twice as large as the original 13 colonies, which was 400,000 square miles. Along the Alaska coastline the shelf extends several hundred miles under the Bering Sea. On the
Eastern coast of the United States the width of the shelf varies from 20 miles to 250 miles, and along the Pacific coast it is from 1 to 50 miles wide.
Two Presidential proclamations assert our sovereignty over the mineral resources of this ground, and our jurisdiction over the fishery resources of the bigh seas contiguous to our lands. The food and mineral resources of these areas are worth billions of dollars. Experts in the geology of oil lands would not be surprised if we found 22 billion barrels of oil—more than we are sure that we have on the continent-beneath one small part of the shelf that reaches into the Gulf of Mexico. Geologists also think that the shelf will yield rutile, sulphur, ilemenite, chromite, monazite and other heavy minerals. Their expectations are based on geologists' observations and on geologic reasoning. They have “tracked" lines of oil-bearing formations in the earth up to the shoreline, and they have good reasons to believe that the lines continue along the bed of the ocean. They also know which geologic processes create oil, and the shelf has undergone those processes.
The great wealth in this new acquisition is not something that we may take in a few decades or a few centuries We can begin taking it within a relatively short tme It is true that oil has never been recovered from fields that are distant from the shore and under 600 feet of water, but it has been recovered from a field that is a mile off the Louisiana shore and from another that is 2 iniles off the coast of Texas. Techniques for recovering it from deeper waters appear to be possible to our scientists and engineers, and they must appear possible also to at least one oil company, for it has explored the waters of the Gulf of Mexico for oil up to 26 miles off the Louisiana coast.
This Department has been assigned to explore the shelf, and we have developed our plans so far as we can develop them without knowing how much money the Congress will appropriate for the work. We have acquired some of the extraordinary instruments that will be used; we are building or redesigning others. We are formulating a program for cooperative work by geophysicists, geologists, and engineers. Their work will be carried on partly aboard vessels and partly in submarines, and diving bells, and in airplanes. The cost of the survey may run to several millions of dollars if we include the cost of ships and equipment that have served their war purpose for the Navy and which are still in the Navy's possession. Even if we did count the cost of these essentials in the cost of the survey, which would be doubtful bookkeeping, the shelf would still be cheap. Alaska cost us $7,200,000; the Danish West Indies, $25,000,000; and the Louisiana Purchase amounted to $27,000,000. The Continental Shelf cost only the forethought that was required to assert our sovereignty over it.
Regional development is not a new theory of conservation, but
rather an improved technique for developing, using and conserving our resources by the usual means—but doing it better, cheaper, faster, and to better purpose. It is the kind of logical next step in conservation that mass production was in production. We would continue to build dams, power plants, reservoirs, irrigation facilities, and other adjuncts of conservation. We would improve navigation, advance the propagation of fish and wildlife, and create and preserve recreational facilities. We would provide for flood control and for the allevation of stream pollution, but we would not plan any facility or program singly, nor would we be content to derive from it only those benefits which a single facility or program alone would provide. Instead, we would draw into one plan all of the dams and other facilities that a large region would need to develop and conserve its resources, build each unit, not as a thing in itself, but as a part of the whole, and we would design these unified projects to be operated as a single conservation-and-development program for the benefit of an entire region.
The great facilities which we have recently begun to build, especially those in the Missouri Valley, were designed as parts of a program of that kind. But these facilities and others that will be built later will not work as one unit of their own accord, regardless of how well-designed they may be. They must be operated as a unit, and this Department has helped to prepare for that kind of operation. The Senate Committee on Irrigation and Reclamation was given all of the guidance and information which this Department's extensive experience in conservation enabled us to give, when that committee held hearings on the Murray bill (S. 555). We are prepared to appear before any other congressional committee that may need us.
I approved of the principal aim of the Murray bill, which is to provide by statute that all of the conservation facilities in the Missouri Valley shall be used in coordination. However, I believed that the law should be amended to make possible similar benefits to the inhabitants of other river basins if they wanted them, so I recommended certain revisions in the bill which would assure the continued usefulness of those Federal organizations, within this Department and others, that now successfully administer the established conservation policies of the Nation. My recommendations have been published as a Senate document, and they have been particularized in a bill which this Department has prepared and proposed as a substitute for Senate bill 555, so I will not repeat them here.
There has been so much honest misunderstanding and deliberate misrepresentation with respect to my attitude on the development of our great river valleys that it may be worthwhile to make a brief statement here. I am not only in favor of the full and diversified development of our river valleys, I was one of the first men in public