Biden Administration Is Helping China By Restricting Domestic Mining: Minnesota State Senator

Biden Administration Is Helping China By Restricting Domestic Mining: Minnesota State Senator
Wheel loaders fill trucks with ore at the MP Materials rare earth mine in Mountain Pass, Calif., on Jan. 30, 2020. (Steve Marcus/Reuters)
Michael Clements
7/10/2023
Updated:
7/12/2023
0:00

The Biden administration’s restrictive stance towards domestic mining projects is making the United States dependent on the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), according to former Minnesota state Sen. Tom Bakk.

“We need to change the narrative on mining in this country,” Mr. Bakk told the House Ways and Means Committee on July 10. “It’s contrary to their own objectives.”

Mr. Bakk testified during a field hearing in Kimball, Minnesota. He said northeast Minnesota has the largest deposits of copper, cobalt, nickel, platinum group metals, and other products the renewable energy industry needs.

Mr. Bakk said the United States could be a net exporter of these items. The CCP’s July 3 announcement of new state controls that restrict exports of germanium and gallium, elements used in producing high-performance computer chips, shows it is willing to disrupt supply chains, he said.

“It’s bad for Minnesota; it’s bad for the country. Frankly, I think it’s bad for the world,” Mr. Bakk said.

Tesla Superchargers in San Rafael, Calif., on Feb. 15, 2023. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Tesla Superchargers in San Rafael, Calif., on Feb. 15, 2023. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

According to Mr. Bakk, the Biden administration has severely restricted mining in the United States, leaving China with a monopoly.

“It’s urgent that we stop putting up roadblocks to domestic mineral production because our ability to avoid devastating supply chain disruptions and build a greener future depends on it,” Mr. Bakk said.

Mr. Bakk referenced the Duluth Complex in the northeast tip of the state along the north bank of Lake Superior.

He said mining had been a significant industry in the area for 140 years and, with the growing interest in green energy, it could be again. The rich deposits would not only supply America’s green energy needs, they could be exported to help other countries while creating thousands of jobs and revitalizing the economy in a region that is struggling.

“That deposit would have supported several generations of miners,” he said.

Joe Biden speaks at the 2022 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Mich., on Sept. 14, 2022. (Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images)
Joe Biden speaks at the 2022 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Mich., on Sept. 14, 2022. (Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images)

However, he said the U.S. government appears to be split in its green energy support. On the one hand, President Joe Biden promised Detroit auto workers that they would be building electric cars in a speech at the North American International Auto Show in September 2022.

“Companies have announced new investments of more than $36 billion in electric vehicles and $48 billion in batteries manufacturing in the U.S.,” Mr. Biden said.

Mr. Bakk said that for that to happen, the Biden administration needs to make the supply chain for raw materials more secure.

“It’s a fact of life; if you don’t get the minerals, you won’t be able to complete them,” Mr. Bakk said.

In 2016, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) refused to renew two mining leases in the Superior National Forest that had been in place since the 1960s. BLM cited the possible environmental danger to Lake Superior.

Mining Leases Canceled on Duluth Complex

Mining had yet to take place on the site to that point.

In 2018, the Trump administration reversed that decision and renewed the leases. In January 2022, the Interior Department determined that the Trump decision violated the law, did not consider the U.S. Forestry Service’s consent authority, and failed to consider all possible environmental impacts.

Not only were the leases canceled, but all mining operations in the forest were prohibited. This includes any studies related to mining.

According to Mr. Bakk, this will cause the kind of environmental damage the lease opponents want to prevent. At the same time, it will make the United States more vulnerable to the CCP. He said importing the products would have an added environmental impact.

“Consider the greenhouse gas emissions associated with [importing the metals],” he said.

China Has Too Much Control

Mr. Bakk said the best way for America to address climate change is with its raw materials.

“The data is clear. We need to mine these materials, and we’re going to successfully combat the negative effects of climate change,” he said.

Committee member Rep. Pete Stauber (R-Minn.) agreed with Mr. Bakk. He expressed concern over China’s willingness to engage in trade wars with the United States and the rest of the world. He said the United States is squandering an opportunity to become more prominent internationally and to solidify its relations with other countries.

“China has a long history of engaging in trade wars with the United States and other countries, and the world is increasingly dependent on critical minerals.

“We have an incredible opportunity to export these minerals to allies and partners around the globe, lessening the grip of countries like China and global supply chains,” Mr. Stauber said.

Michael Clements focuses mainly on the Second Amendment and individual rights for The Epoch Times. He has more than 30 years of experience in print journalism, having worked at newspapers in Alabama, Florida, Texas, and Oklahoma. He is based in Durant, Oklahoma.