The Canary in the Pebble Mine – A Classic Example of Why the United States is Vulnerable to Foreign Mining and Mining Extortion – Greeley Tribune


Politicians demand that the United States become more self-sufficient in crucial metals and minerals, but then block domestic mining at every opportunity. The Pebble Mine project in Alaska is the latest to join the list of victims.

The Pebble site holds between $300 billion and $500 billion in mineral resources and could be one of the world’s biggest suppliers of copper and gold. Electric cars as well as wind and solar power require huge amounts of copper. Investors have invested nearly $1 billion in exploration, engineering and studies to meet regulatory requirements.

Yet last month, the Biden Environmental Protection Agency issued a ruling under the Clean Water Act that would ban the disposal of mining waste within the 308 square miles of the Pebble site, whether or not it poses an environmental risk. It could be a fatal blow to the mine.

The political onslaught against the project began when Obama’s EPA preemptively vetoed the government even before conducting an environmental review. The Trump EPA then let the US Army Corps of Engineers conduct an environmental analysis, and in July 2020 the Corps found the mine would have “no measurable effect” on local fish populations. But then Donald Trump Jr. spoke out against the mine, and weeks after the November election, the Corps rejected Pebble’s permit.

The Pebble developers challenged the Corps’ seemingly arbitrary decision and were able to prevail. But Alaska’s two Republican senators, Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan, also oppose the Pebble mine even as they oppose the EPA’s veto on the legal principle, so that could be the end of it. of the project.

Resource development can be done while protecting the environment. Yet the same climate activists who are working to stop fossil fuel development are also trying to block the mining essential to renewable energy.

For example, a recent report from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) calls for a moratorium on most lithium brine mining. Lithium is essential for making batteries for electric vehicles. Instead, the NRDC wants “longer-term solutions that reduce the need for new batteries”, such as “public policy tools to enable better access and use of public transport, cycling and walking”. The Greens want to ban petrol cars and block the extraction of minerals for electric cars.

Politicians will claim that the surrounding Pebble area is unique in its environmental value, but there is always another excuse to ban the next mine. In January, the Department of the Interior revoked long-standing federal leases for mining Minnesota’s Duluth complex, which accounts for 95% of US nickel, 88% of its cobalt and more than a third of its copper. .

Minerals and metals will still be mined, but in countries where environmental protection is much less important, such as Indonesia, the Democratic Republic of Congo and China. The next time a politician bemoans the vulnerability of America’s supply chain, ask him what specific mining project he supports.

— Wall Street Journal, May 30


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