Today, the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) announced its recommendation that the Secretary of the Interior withdraw lands from new mineral leasing in the Rainy River watershed for 20 years, preventing development of important American mineral resources

“Just when you think the Biden administration’s energy ‘plan’ can’t get any worse, they somehow find a way. After years of touting battery storage, electric vehicles, solar panels, and other renewables as the only way forward, this administration is simultaneously cutting off the very resources on which that renewable energy depends. They can’t have it both ways. Either we invest in cleaner, safer energy and minerals here at home, or we depend on it from slave labor and environmentally damaging sources overseas. I would say I can’t believe the Biden administration would be so shortsighted, but at this point it’s what I’ve come to expect from their attempts at energy policy. This is bad for Minnesota, bad for clean energy, and bad for Americans, particularly at a time when inflation is already through the roof. I hope they see the error of their ways, immediately reverse this unscientific decision, and allow safe, reliable mineral extraction in the Duluth Complex.” – House Committee on Natural Resources Ranking Member Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.)

“Biden and his fellow elitist Democrats in Washington and St. Paul are denying my constituents of our way of life. Joe Biden has made his position clear: he’d rather have foreign and child slave labor produce minerals instead of American union miners working to deliver Minnesota’s mineral wealth to the nation and world using the best environmental and labor standards. Time after time, he chooses the wealthy, elite, keep-it-in-the-ground lobby over our workers. Americans are seeing the results of Joe Biden’s devastating policies and they have had enough. Instead of reviewing the project-specific proposal offered by Twin Metals, the Biden Administration decided to rely on a political study to find the end result they want: to permanently ban mining in northern Minnesota. Rest assured, I will fight this on behalf of northern Minnesotans, who deserve high-quality mining jobs.” – Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources Ranking Member Pete Stauber (R-Minn.)

Background

The Duluth Complex in Northern Minnesota contains nearly 8 billion tons of copper, nickel, cobalt, and platinum group metals. These minerals will soon see huge upswings in demand due to their use in batteries, electric vehicles and other rapidly expanding sectors. If developed, the Duluth Complex could constitute 95 percent of U.S. nickel reserves, 88 percent of U.S. cobalt reserves and 75 percent of U.S. platinum-group reserves. Northern Minnesota is also home to the historic Iron Range, where taconite mining has occurred for more than 130 years. Developing this region is in the national interest due to the many important uses of the resources. Mining would also provide immense economic benefits to the surrounding area. Today, the Biden administration announced another step toward locking up these important resources and preventing mineral development in the area for the next 20 years.

The USFS announced that public comment will begin on June 28, 2022 on an Environmental Assessment requesting to withdraw lands from new mineral leasing for 20 years in the Rainy River watershed in Northern Minnesota, where the Duluth Complex is located. The Bureau of Land Management has the final authority to make a recommendation to the Secretary of the Interior on whether or not to accept the USFS’s request for a mineral withdrawal in this area.

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