Biden dives into mining reform amidst rising demand for critical minerals

Feb 23, 2022

After a year of near silence on the topic, President Biden jumped head first yesterday into the issue of mining reform. He announced the creation of a working group overseen by the Interior Department that will make recommendations on how the administration can update current mining laws—which are 150 years old—to ensure environmental responsibility and equity.

“Environmental protections are paramount,” said Biden. “We have to ensure that these resources actually benefit folks in the communities where they live, not just shareholders.”

The working group will make policy recommendations “for improvements necessary to ensure that new production meets strong environmental and community and Tribal engagement standards during all stages of mine development,” according to an Interior Department news release. Additionally, a document outlining the administration’s “fundamental principles” for mining reform calls for establishing “strong responsible mining standards” at the regulatory and legislative levels that “create a level playing field,” as well as the prioritization of “recycling, reuse and efficient use of critical minerals.”

The push to reform mining comes as demand for minerals used in electric vehicle batteries, like lithium and cobalt, ramps up. In the past year, the Biden administration has found itself pitted against efforts to mine critical minerals on federal public lands due to environmental concerns, while at the same time touting the electric vehicles that need those minerals.

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Quote of the day

”Why should this big dummy die?” 

—Ann Bryant, executive director of the Bear League, on a 500-pound bear that broke into 28 homes in California, New York Times

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(featured image: Replica mine at the Bureau of Land Management’s National Historic Oregon Trail Interpretive Center. Photo: Jeff Clark, BLM)