As the Biden administration promotes the widespread adoption of electric vehicles in the U.S., it must confront the stranglehold that China has on the critical mineral market.
Addressing our domestic mining shortfall, the administration released a new report this week that analyzed the General Mining Act of 1872 and provided recommendations for a modernized process. Under the guise of advancing the administration’s environmental goals to accelerate renewables and codify environmental justice into law, the recommendations will add excessive red tape, elongating the permitting process and increasing costs, growing our reliance on China for these materials. It is ironic that the recommendations seek to streamline aspects of the mining permitting process, but changes would create a complex administrative system that would further hamstring expediency.
The report concluded that miners should pay 4-8 percent of their net value in royalties to the federal government, which will raise the costs of these materials and disincentivize mining. Additionally, the recommendations would increase the administration’s reach over the mining process and require developers to meet with agencies before they apply for permits. Mining permits already go through a rigorous review process, sometimes taking almost 15 years to greenlight projects.
By adding more obstacles to the permitting process, the Biden administration is doing the exact opposite of expediting mining projects. Relying on China for these materials will empower their unjust practices, such as using forced and child labor. Similarly, it will reward their economy to the disadvantage of hard-working Americans.
While the Biden administration should be prioritizing the buildout of a domestic mining supply chain, these recommendations will cause short-term delays to the process at the behest of climate goals. The hypocrisy of the administration’s plan to accelerate renewables continues through other actions like canceling several mining projects in the west, contradicting their efforts and demonstrating their lack of awareness as to how this would affect the American people. The Biden administration must stop sending mixed signals to the U.S. energy industry, prioritize domestic production of all critical materials, and pursue an all-of-the-above approach to energy security.