Mining law has barely changed since 1872. Can Congress agree on a fix? – by Blanca Begert ( – February 9, 2023)

This year has already brought some unusual setbacks for mining companies, thanks to the Biden administration. On January 26, the administration dealt a possibly fatal blow to Twin Metal Minnesota’s decades-long effort to reopen a nickel and copper mine near the Boundary Waters, the most visited wilderness area in the country.

A few days later, the Environmental Protection Agency vetoed the proposed Pebble Mine, invoking the Clean Water Act to halt a gold and copper mine near one of the world’s largest spawning grounds for salmon in Alaska.

The rejections were rare for the industry — in the case of the Pebble Mine, it was the first time that the Clean Water Act was used to stop a hardrock mine. While tribes and environmental organizations welcomed the news, mining companies and their allies in Congress criticized the Biden administration for standing in the way of its own clean energy goals.

Metals like copper, nickel, and lithium are all used in electric vehicle batteries as well as for wind and solar energy storage; as such, they’ve been dubbed “critical” to getting the United States off fossil fuels.

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