Eco-Groups Push For EVs, But Refuse To Back US Mining Projects For Necessary Materials

FILE PHOTO: Workers at BHP Billiton's Escondida, the world's biggest copper mine, are seen in front of the open pit, in Antofagasta,

Eco-Groups Push For EVs, But Refuse To Back US Mining Projects For Necessary Materials

Bronson Winslow on February 1, 2023

Environmental advocacy groups continue to oppose mining efforts within the US, despite pushing for a green future through electric vehicles that require large amounts of copper and other mined resources.

The advocacy groups, the Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Earthjustice and Center for Biological Diversity have pushed to decarbonize the grid and the auto market in the coming years, but continue to advocate against mining projects that would support the green transition. The advocacy groups on Tuesday celebrated the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Final Determination that restricted the possible mining of 1.4 billion tons of copper, gold, molybdenum, silver and rhenium, which could have provided “tens of millions” in tax dollars for the state of Alaska and helped source crucial EV materials.

Earthjustice, a nonprofit public interest environmental law organization, referred the Daily Caller News Foundation to an article about sustainable mining when asked how the transition to EVs can be accomplished without mining efforts in the US. The article states that there is a need for mining to successfully transition to EVs, but argues that it must be done in a sustainable way.

“Updating our laws and regulations is part of the sustainable solutions needed to meet the demands for critical minerals and ensure that our clean energy future isn’t built on a foundation of dirty mining,” Earthjustice wrote in the article.

When asked if they support any mining efforts in the US or would provide examples of any eco-friendly mining groups, Earthjustice did not respond to the DCNF. The Sierra Club, NRDC, and Center for Biological Diversity did not respond to the DCNF’s request for examples of a single mine in the US that they support.

In February, environmental activists threatened to stop two mining projects that were critical to Biden’s climate agenda. The groups, the Great Basin Resource Watch (GBRW), the Western Watersheds Project, Basin and Range Watch and Wildlands Defense, filed a lawsuit to block the Thacker Pass and the Rhyolite Ridge lithium mines.

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Lithium is a crucial component for electric vehicle batteries.

The Biden administration’s push for 50% of all vehicles being electric by 2030 aligns with the advocacy groups’ mission of transitioning away from fossil fuels as a major source of energy, but both the Biden administration’s EPA and the advocacy groups have worked to restrict mining efforts within the US, most recently the Pebble Limited Partnership’s copper-heavy mine in Alaska.

A standard vehicle uses 18 to 50 pounds of copper, and an EV powered by a battery requires 85 to 183 pounds, accordingto the Copper Development Association. The demand for copper due to electric vehicles is expected to increase by 1,700 kilotons by 2027.

The administration has canceled numerous mining efforts within the US over the past two years, opting to outsourcemining efforts to other countries.In January, the Biden administration agreed to a memorandum of understanding with Zambia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to strengthen the EV battery value chain.

Just one week prior, the administration canceled a major mining project on 200,000 acres of land in Minnesota, saying it was for water protection.

Before the administration signed the memorandum of understanding, the Department of Labor’s (DOL) Bureau of International Labor Affairs (ILAB) found in October that Chinese lithium-ion EV batteries were possibly tainted by child labor, as the cobalt used to make the batteries is often mined by children in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

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