Last

week, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced its recommendation to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to not re-issue PolyMet’s Clean Water Act Section 404 permit for the NorthMet project in northeastern Minnesota.

“This week, the Biden administration landed another blow against U.S. mining and a win for China with the Environmental Protection Agency’s recommendation to revoke a water permit for the NorthMet mining project in Minnesota. These anti-mining policies will make America even more dependent upon the Chinese Communist Party for critical minerals. Critical minerals – like the copper, nickel, and cobalt promised by this Minnesota mining project – are desperately needed for our energy sector and should be produced, processed, and manufactured here in the United States. If President Biden is serious about securing our supply chains for critical minerals, particularly for the energy sector, he will prioritize the permitting of mining projects in America. Otherwise, he will be ceding control over these supply chains to China.” – House Committee on Energy and Commerce Ranking Member Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.)

“Actions speak louder than words, and while the Biden administration is claiming to support American industries, their actions tell a very different story. PolyMet has gone through years of extensive vetting, yet it doesn’t fit this administration’s goal of punishing the U.S. economy while selling out to China. The fact is mines like PolyMet, and the massive amounts of copper, nickel, and precious metals it could supply, are needed for a host of products, including renewable energy and battery storage technologies. If we’re not producing these minerals here, we’re getting them from abroad, China in particular. Instead of incentivizing cleaner, safer energy and mineral production here at home, President Biden is choosing instead to try to shutter it completely. That’s unacceptable and only jeopardizes our national security. I call on the Biden administration to immediately reverse this short-sighted decision and restore PolyMet’s permit.” – House Committee on Natural Resources Ranking Member Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.)

“The President and his Administration have been completely tone deaf in suggesting that Americans buy electric vehicles as a solution to the energy crisis that’s of their own making. This latest regulatory action makes it that much harder to produce the necessary critical minerals for those vehicles in the United States. Instead, the President’s actions would force us to sell out to China to meet his green energy goals. This is just the latest example of one bad, contradictory policy after another that has driven up inflation to record levels, increased fuel costs, and further eroded the infrastructure investment that only just passed.” – House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Ranking Member Sam Graves (R-Mo.)

Background

The PolyMet mine a is copper, nickel, and precious metals project in Northern Minnesota, which will develop the Duluth Complex, one of the richest deposits in the world. If developed, this would be a major source of mineral resources needed for renewable energy and dozens of other high tech applications. The mine would also support hundreds of new job opportunities in the area.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers first approved the Clean Water Act Section 404 permit for PolyMet in early 2019. Later that year, the Fond du Lac Band, one of the tribes in the region, sued the EPA over water quality standards, leading to a suspension of the permit. Now that EPA has made its recommendations to not reissue the permit, the U.S. Army Corps must determine whether to reinstate the permit, revoke it, or apply new conditions.

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