For years, the United States has been at the forefront of the fight against climate change. The administration of President Joe Biden has pushed for the widespread adoption of green technologies as a key part of this effort.
If we fall short of our goals as a nation, however, history can show that the administration was its own greatest enemy.
The federal government’s recent decision to reverse its position and cancel Twin Metals Minnesota’s longstanding mining leases, in addition to proposing a 20-year mining levy in northeast Minnesota, demonstrates a startling lack of understanding. on supply chains for green energy technologies needed to combat climate change. The area where Twin Metals Minnesota has proposed to mine contains one of the largest undeveloped copper-nickel deposits in the world. Taking this area and this project off the table for mining is completely at odds with the administration’s own climate change goals and efforts to secure domestic mineral supply chains, as noted in an announcement by the White House on February 22.
These actions bypassed the mine licensing process on the pretext of environmental concerns, without carrying out the legally mandated environmental review. Twin Metals deserves the chance to go through the environmental review processes that have been going on for years. Keep in mind that, if permitted to operate, Twin Metals would do so under some of the strictest environmental and labor standards on the planet.
The raw materials that Twin Metals offers to safely mine are vital to creating green energy solutions like solar panels, wind turbines, electric vehicles and batteries that store their energy. Twin Metals minerals alone would support the production of 280,000 electric vehicles per year, preventing 2.3 billion pounds of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere.
In an effort to reduce America’s carbon footprint, President Biden has set an aggressive timeline to achieve 50% vehicle electrification by 2030, only to force automakers to source the raw materials needed for their fleets. around the world, in countries like China or the Democratic Republic of Congo. These countries have intense greenhouse gas emissions, not to mention ongoing human rights violations.
We can protect our environment and reduce emissions if America embraces the safe extraction of critical resources from its own soil. For too long we have been dependent on other countries to supply us with essential minerals. Yet the administration has both emphasized the need for a national supply chain and placed a proverbial scarlet letter on local mining companies that plan to use the most innovative and sustainable technologies and practices available to extract the minerals. needed to create this technology safely.
The federal government’s actions highlight an already laboriously slow and torturous task of bringing new mines into service in the United States. If the federal government won’t allow Twin Metals to responsibly mine these minerals, where will America get these materials?
These are extraordinary risks that the American people should not be asked to bear. Fortunately, Twin Metals has the legal right to challenge the administration’s action and defend its valid existing mineral rights and has already confirmed its intention to do so. Americans should implore President Biden and Congress to accept the clear scientific benefits of allowing Twin Metals to go through established review processes.
America’s hardrock miners operate with the highest environmental and labor standards in the world, and we can all be proud of the work they do and the materials they supply. But they can only do that if we give them a fair chance. If President Biden ends the Twin Metals project, he will hurt himself and America more than he knows.
Mark Compton is executive director of the American Exploration & Mining Association (miningamerica.org), a 127-year-old national association with more than 1,300 members based in Spokane Valley, Washington. He defends the mineral industry. He wrote this for the News Tribune.