Thursday, June 20, 2024
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Forget Tariffs: Biden Should Look to Domestic Mining to Thwart Chinese EVs



The Biden administration’s decision to raise tariffs on Chinese-manufactured electric vehicles, steel, computer chips and other technological products is the epitome of a penny wise and a pound foolish.

To much of the nation, the news was a re-election flip-flop, or an attempt to prop up the electric vehicle industry Biden has prioritized since he took office, as part of his green agenda. The international supply chain for electric vehicles isn’t going to magically stop running through the Chinese Communist Party anytime soon.

If Biden really wanted to curb Chinese geopolitical power, he would make fundamental changes to his administration’s history of attacking domestic mining opportunities. Allowing development of copper, graphite, nickel, cobalt and other critical and strategic minerals right here at home would go much further than imposing tariffs.

Biden has demonstrated affinity for promoting “net zero” policies and forcing transitions away from traditional energy supplies of oil, gas and coal. In a nutshell, the attacks on domestic mining projects seem completely counterproductive.

According to the International Energy Agency, staggering quantities of subsurface elements will need to be mined by at least five times their current worldwide production by 2040 to meet the Biden administration’s green energy goals. Graphite, cobalt and lithium all will be needed in quantities exceeding 25 times (or more) their current supplies. In the next quarter century, we will need twice as much copper than has been produced in the last three thousand years.  All of which is impossible when Joe Biden won’t let us dig.

The U.S. has tremendous opportunities to have our own mineral resources. Yet, the Biden Administration has thwarted their development at nearly every turn. For example, massive copper and nickel deposits could be developed in Minnesota at the Twin Metals and Duluth Complex projects, but Biden has ordered each of them off-limits for development. The Resolution copper prospect in Arizona met a similar fate, with the Department of Interior placing on “indefinite hold” on its approval.

The western hemisphere’s largest copper prospect is Alaska’s Pebble Mine. Kowtowing to environmental extremists – and ignoring a clean U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) – the EPA continues to stymie progress on a deposit worth more than $500 billion. All the while shutting down the possibility of 700 full-time jobs in an area of rural Alaska that has seasonal unemployment exceeding 20%.

Alaska has been the target of more than 60 administrative and executive orders targeting its resource-based economy since Biden assumed office.  One of the most recent took place on Earth Day, when a congressionally-authorized road to the Ambler Mining District – an area rich in copper, zinc and other strategic and critical minerals – was stopped by the Department of Interior. 

Just like with the Resolution mine in Arizona, Interior used “Indigenous opposition” as its deciding factor, even though many villages and tribes closest to the mining district publicly support the project and its future employment opportunities. In Alaska, the Biden administration literally blocks the road to the minerals his tariffs claim to protect.

Alaska’s Governor, Michael Dunleavy, along with its entire Congressional delegation, has been openly critical of the continued hypocrisy of the Biden administration when it comes to talking “net zero” and acting with vigor to oppose domestic mining projects. The same response has come from many within the Minnesota and Arizona congressional community. They’ve been unable to break through to the administration, as Team Biden chooses to listen to eco-activists and career bureaucrats with an anti-development agenda.

What would hurt China, empower America, and begin to chip away at the global imbalance would be mining and processing our crucial minerals and elements domestically. Let’s see if the Biden Administration wises up to that fact, or if America tires of being subservient to the CCP and makes fundamental changes to federal leadership in November.

Rick Whitbeck is the Alaska State Director for Power The Future, a national nonprofit organization that advocates for American energy jobs and fights back against economy-killing and family-destroying environmental extremism. Contact him at [email protected] and follow him on X (formerly Twitter) @PTFAlaska

This article was originally published by RealClearEnergy and made available via RealClearWire.