Democrats go big on mining. Will there be a backlash? – by Jael Holzman and Nick Sobczyk (E&E News – April 1, 2022)


The green energy revolution has led Democrats to embrace calls for more mining — creating a potential flashpoint between those seeking climate action and others fighting for environmental justice.

President Biden turned yesterday to a Cold War-era law to marshal Defense Department resources toward supporting new mining activities in the United States, including through assisting with costly studies and industrial processing activities — all to obtain more minerals needed to make electric vehicle batteries. The order singled out five commodities as a priority: lithium, nickel, cobalt, graphite and manganese.

Biden’s order arrived after a request from Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chair Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), the latter a long-standing champion of critical minerals policy who is running in a contested election this fall.

As the White House was rolling out its directive, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee held a largely pro-mining hearing that could serve as a blueprint for a potential deal on energy and critical minerals.

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