BRANDED: Actions Speak Louder Than Words: The Need for Domestic Mining

May 2, 2022

Actions Speak Louder Than Words: The Need for Domestic Mining
By Reps. Pete Stauber (MN-08) and Debbie Lesko (AZ-08)

When it comes to President Biden’s domestic mining policy, it’s important to watch his actions and not just listen to his words.

During October 2020, in the throes of the presidential campaign, then-candidate Joe Biden told U.S. miners he supports domestic production. It was a key time for his campaign, as Americans were rightfully skeptical of his support for domestic mining.

But what happened following the first Tuesday in November? After taking office, his White House said to the media that Joe Biden plans to look abroad for minerals and he started cancelling U.S. mining projects.

Just months after Biden took office, his administration blocked a land exchange needed for a crucial mining project in Arizona that the Trump Administration had approved. The Resolution Copper Mine deposit contains 1.7 billion metric tons of copper. If given the green light the mine could provide 25% of our nation’s copper needs. The copper mine could build more than 360,000,000 windmills and provide thousands of jobs.

In January 2022, the Biden Administration made a political decision to cancel two federal mining leases in northern Minnesota in a cynical attempt to block the Twin Metals project. The Twin Metals project would mine part of the Duluth Complex, which contains 95% of America’s nickel, 88% of our cobalt, 75% of our platinum-group elements, and more than one-third of our copper.

Both of these projects signed project labor agreements to use union labor. Both of these projects are necessary if America is to build out large scale renewable energy or put more electric vehicles on the road, but Biden halted both.

On March 31, 2022, the president announced he’s invoking the Defense Production Act (DPA) to produce more minerals domestically for electric vehicle batteries, a key part of his administration’s energy policy. Due to Biden’s past actions, we take this announcement with a grain of salt and will wait for results.

If President Biden truly wanted to revive the domestic mining industry, create new good-paying blue-collar jobs, and decrease American dependence on foreign adversarial sources for minerals, he would work with Congress and enact meaningful permitting reform. A serious policy to achieve mineral dominance would shorten permit review lengths and stop the weaponization of frivolous lawsuits, providing the certainty and stability our domestic industries need to thrive.

The United States has some of the strongest environmental and labor standards for mining in the world, much higher than in nations where these critical minerals are currently mined. This unfortunately does not stop left-wing environmental groups from filing lawsuit after lawsuit and Biden Administration officials from enacting more red tape and regulations to slow the permit approval process for domestic mining projects.

It’s time for Biden to end his hypocrisy on mining and enact real reforms. While the DPA is a small step in the right direction, it was dropped by a desperate administration when plummeting poll numbers continue to get worse. Let’s hold Joe Biden accountable, and judge him by his actions, not his words.

Pete Stauber represents Minnesota's 8th Congressional District and serves as a Vice Chair of the Congressional Western Caucus. Debbie Lesko represents Arizona's 8th Congressional District and is a member of the Congressional Western Caucus.

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