Earthworks Statement on GAO Mining Stakeholder Report

Background:
Today the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report surveying stakeholders affected by federal public lands mining policy.  At the highest level, GAO found that industry wants certainty; public interest and tribal groups want to see mining equitably balanced with other land uses, and for their voices to be heard in the decision-making process. Earthworks was one of the surveyed stakeholders.

GAO’s review comes shortly after the White House released a report on critical mineral supply chains which–in the context of providing minerals for the burgeoning renewable energy economy–recommended a suite of policy changes that would make mining more responsible and encourage recycling and reuse of metals.

The Interior Department writes the rules that govern mining on federal public lands within the context of existing law. Transformative changes–like changing mining tenure from location to leasing–would require Congressional action to reform or replace the General Mining Law of 1872.

Below is a statement from Earthworks Policy Director Lauren Pagel:

“The GAO’s survey confirms that we need to update the rules that govern mining on public lands, and Interior Secretary Haaland should set that process in motion as soon as possible. It is clear that the Biden-Harris administration’s Build Back Better plan can only work if we begin to source minerals more responsibly. The first step is to strengthen mining oversight and Tribal consultation to ensure that the clean energy transition doesn’t replace dirty oil and gas with dirty mining.”

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