Senator Josh Hawley from Missouri took an authoritative stance on an issue during Thursday’s Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources hearing. The discussion focused on the Biden administration’s decision to halt nearly a quarter of a million acres in Minnesota from mineral mining. After a sixteen-month review, the Department of Interior concluded that the land should be protected for two decades due to possible water contamination from mining.
Hawley started his questioning by inquiring Hall-Rivera about the importance of critical minerals to the nation’s energy security. After agreeing that the minerals are essential, he moved on to the current state of mineral refinement across the world. He discovered that current production stands as 68 percent of the world’s nickel from China; with 40 percent of copper, 59 percent of lithium, and 73 percent of cobalt also mined there.
With the importance of minerals firmly established, Hawley looked to Hall-Rivera for explanation of the administration’s decision to prohibit mining of the 225,000 acre reserve in Minnesota. Effective as of early 2021, the decision means that the United States is becoming reliant on foreign nations with an abysmal record with environmental practices, both green energy and domestic energy dependent on mineral availability.
Hawley wanted to know the administration’s reasoning, to which Hall-Rivera could only assume it had to do with the nearby Boundary Waters Wilderness Area. She was not knowledgeable of the proceedings, but offered to send more detailed information about the decision. Hawley believes it would be detrimental to the nation, making us poorer while simultaneously allowing China to become wealthier.
The Biden administration’s commitment to transitioning to green energy has brought multiple mining projects to a halt. Copper, nickel and lithium are integral to the construction of renewable methods, and a disruption of such production would make any advancement difficult. This is only compounded with the halt of a mine that produces the nation’s largest reserve of cobalt and nickel.
Hawley’s confronting and questioning of Hall-Rivera was an effort to gain more insight into the apparent disconnect between the need for critical minerals and the understanding that zinc, cobalt and lithium refine from foreign nations in hazardous and unsustainable manners. He declared that we must do all that is in our power to develop the nation’s domestic mining, and that should never be disregarded for foreign nations.