Reagan wants minerals from public lands
President Reagan sent Congress the National Materials and Minerals Program Plan, calling for vast areas of protected public land to be opened to mineral development to reduce US mineral dependence on foreign sources in the event of a national emergency.
The 33-page report, drafted by Reagan's Cabinet council on natural resources, headed by Interior Secretary James G. Watt, proposed no legislation or funding. It underscores Mr. Watt's commitment to opening public lands, which has been widely criticized by environmental groups.
The report notes the United States now imports more than half its total supplies of 20 strategic minerals and calls for purchase of $12.5 billion of minerals such as bauxite, chromium, cobalt, and tungsten for the national stockpile to sustain the country for three years during a national emergency.