President Joe Biden claims he wants America to lead in “clean energy” production, but he’s again blocking American producers from developing the critical, rare-earth minerals to make it happen.
The federal government owns huge chunks of America’s West, home to critical minerals like lithium essential to technologies like electric-vehicle batteries — yet Biden blocks their development beneath federal lands.
Biden banned access Tuesday to nearly 514,000 acres of public lands, including a new national park in Nevada, Avi Kwa Ame.
Nevada Gov. Joe Lombardo says Biden failed to consult him before this designation, though the Silver State contains massive lithium deposits.
This is particularly frustrating because Nevada is a whopping 80% federally owned — compare that to New York, less than 1%, Pennsylvania (home to robust shale drilling) 2.2%, South Dakota 5.4% and Texas only 2%.
Blocking the critical mineral mining required to meet Biden’s “clean energy” goals denies reality — the mining infrastructure isn’t there.
China dominates, with around 80% of the market for mining these minerals, and undermines human rights to do so, through child and slave labor.
By the way, “clean energy” requires minerals mined using acid drainage, wastewater runoff and other environmentally sensitive factors, a big reason US resources have gone untapped.
“We believe it’s hypocrisy across the board. It’s illogical across the board, and it’s harming Alaska and the United States. Not everybody is buying their story that they’re really wanting to produce critical minerals,” Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy told me by phone.
“I’d be the first one to praise the Biden administration if I did see it, but all we see are a continual series of actions against Alaska’s ability to develop its resources, including minerals.”
Alaska is 61% federally owned, and Dunleavy pointed to Biden’s preemptive veto, through the Environmental Protection Agency, of the Alaskan Pebble project, which the governor said contains an estimated $1 trillion worth of copper — potentially the largest copper mine in the world. (It was blocked for supposedly endangering salmon streams.)
The governor said federal agencies stymied Alaskans trying to build a road to the Ambler mining district.
“It’s a continual fight with these guys,” Dunleavy said.
Dunleavy noted America’s energy-production regulations are more stringent than those of market leaders China and Russia.
He expressed disappointment about a Biden White House June 2021 report referencing critical minerals, a 250-page missive that mentions Australia 60 times and Canada 32 times but Alaska only once, as a footnote.
Last week, House Majority Leader Steve Scalise introduced HR 1, the Lower Energy Costs Act, which aims to revive America’s energy producers, in part through permitting reform for critical minerals.
Scalise told me he wasn’t surprised by the Biden energy report highlighting foreign countries ahead of Alaska and other US states.
“President Biden has made it clear from Day One, when he declared war on American energy, that he would rather make our country dependent on other countries for energy and critical minerals than making it here in America,” Scalise said.
“The energy costs are through the roof in part because President Biden’s made us dependent on foreign countries by shutting America down when it comes to energy production and critical minerals. It’s lunacy.
“But that’s the Biden agenda.”
Mark Mills at the Manhattan Institute examined the underreported realities behind Biden’s ambitious environmental goals, reviewing a 2021 International Energy Agency report on wind, solar and battery technologies.
Mills notes, “The IEA finds that with a global energy transition like the one President Biden envisions, demand for key minerals such as lithium, graphite, nickel and rare-earth metals would explode, rising by 4,200%, 2,500%, 1,900% and 700%, respectively, by 2040.”
Greg Todd, Utah Office of Energy Development director, told me that 73% of Utah’s mining districts are on federal lands, and the state hosts at least 40 of the federally recognized critical minerals, among other resources.
“It’s difficult to understand an administration that both intentionally complicates the permitting processes and throws millions of dollars in funds towards developing those same resources,” Todd said.
“A benign administration is critical to our work in the state, and the resources we can extract on federal lands have implications nationwide, including for energy security.”
“Benign” is a low bar for Biden.
Americans deserve far better than that — a president who proactively puts his citizens’ interests ahead of foreigners’ and doesn’t spout green rhetoric belied by his actions.
Carrie Sheffield is a senior fellow at Independent Women’s Voice and Tony Blankley Fellow for American Exceptionalism at The Steamboat Institute.