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Media Contact:

Brendan McLaughlin, bmclaughlin@earthworksaction.org, 206.892.8832

Today Aaron Mintzes, Earthworks’ Senior Policy Counsel, testified before the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations at a hearing on sourcing minerals for the clean energy transition. With the right policies in place to promote recycling, we can approximately halve global demand for certain minerals, like cobalt, lithium, and nickel. Even greater reductions (up to 90 percent) are achievable through investments in mass transit and by reducing EV battery size.  

In addition to policy fixes, the US Government has several tools available to enhance material supply chain security and reduce pressure to source from irresponsible mines. Government procurement and consumer pressure both play important roles driving incentives and innovation in more responsible material sourcing. Major consumers, including automakers and electronics companies, have also directed their suppliers to source more responsibly. Some have committed to the Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance, which independently audits environmental and social performance at mines.

The statement below is drawn from Aaron Mintzes’ testimony.

“The climate crisis has disproportionately harmed, and continues to harm, those who have contributed to it the least. Building a sustainable economy based on clean energy gives us an historic opportunity to confront the legacy of injustice to Indigenous communities and damage to the public lands held in trust for future generations. Seizing that opportunity requires policies prioritizing recycling and reuse over new mining.

“As the US government diversifies supply chains for energy transition materials, we urge agencies to require due diligence in accordance with internationally accepted standards. In particular, we call on the State Department and other agencies to uphold Indigenous Peoples’ rights with explicit mention of their right to self-determination and right to Free, Prior and Informed Consent. For public lands agencies, this means modernizing their mining rules to deliver a more fair, just and equitable hardrock mine permitting process for mining-impacted communities.”