STATEMENT: Clean Energy Cannot be Built on Dirty Mining

Earthworks strongly opposes Biden administration’s plan to use Defense Production Act to expand domestic mining

Background:
Today, The Intercept revealed that the Biden administration is preparing an Executive Order to use the Defense Production Act (DPA) to expand hardrock mining. According to The Intercept, the order would specifically call for the “domestic mining, beneficiation, and value-added processing of strategic and critical materials from sustainable sources for the production of large capacity batteries for the automotive, e-mobility, and stationary storage sectors is essential to national defense.”

Current federal mining law (the 1872 Mining Law) fails to provide even basic protections for our shared public lands and the communities that call those lands home. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, 40% of the headwaters of western U.S. watersheds have been polluted by mining. The Biden administration has said repeatedly that we must reform federal mining laws. Last month, the Department of the Interior announced the creation of an interagency working group on reforming hardrock mining laws, regulations and permitting policies in the United States.

Research shows that circular minerals solutions such as recycling can displace a significant amount of the demand for minerals for EV batteries and renewables. By prioritizing mineral recycling, reuse, and substitution while promoting demand reduction, the country and the world can move away from extraction reliance. The European Union has introduced legislation requiring recycled content, mandatory takeback and circular economy policies for EV batteries.

Quote from Lauren Pagel, Earthworks Policy Director:

“The clean energy transition cannot be built on dirty mining. Expanding mining without addressing the shortcomings of our archaic mining laws would be disastrous. More than a century of reckless mining has poisoned the air, water, and land of too many communities, many of them Indigenous. Earthworks strongly opposes the employment of the Defense Production Act to ramp up new mining.

“Fortunately, there are better ways to meet our growing mineral demand than new hardrock mining. The government must focus its purchasing power on recycled content and building a circular minerals economy, and reform federal mining laws to ensure protections for our shared public lands and the communities that call those lands home.”

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

Interior Department Launches Interagency Working Group on Mining Reform
FACT SHEET: Securing a Made in America Supply Chain for Critical Minerals
Just Minerals for a Just Transition
Declaration on Mining and the Energy Transition signed by 175 organizations

MSCI Report: Mining Energy-Transition Metals: National Aims, Local Conflicts