CRES recently testified in front of the jointly hosted House Committee on Natural Resources Republicans and Congressional Western Caucus Oversight Forum on ‘Minnesota Mining and American Potential: An Opportunity for a Brighter and More Secure Future.’ CRES President Heather Reams joined the panel of mining, energy, and environmental experts to discuss the future of mining in United States—particularly the Duluth Complex in Northern Minnesota.
Without More Minerals, We Can’t Meet Clean Energy Goals
The Biden Administration’s tight timelines for rapidly increasing renewable energy rollout—for example: mandating half of new cars and light trucks be zero-emissions vehicles by 2030—would require six times more energy input than is delivered today.
Multiple witnesses drove the point that if the United States does not maintain and increase its ability to supply critical minerals such as copper, nickel, and cobalt, we will soon be reliant on foreign sources for those materials.
Yet, the Administration is moving forward to reactivate an end to new mining in the Iron Range of Minnesota. It is not based on “facts, science, and truth,” said the Honorable Mike Jugovich, District Commissioner and Chair of the St. Louis County Board.
“We can’t have the thing we’re pushing for without the minerals,” concurred Jason George, International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 49.
Moving Mining Overseas Brings More Concern
Witnesses overwhelmingly agreed that not only are foreign sources dirtier and less regulated; they also employ child labor, implement fewer safety practices, and are typically owned by countries that are not U.S. allies.
As Reams noted, “we have a China problem.” Putting the responsibility of mining onto less-developed countries brings with it more global pollution and more humanitarian issues abroad.
Mining Practices Have Changed, Economic Boost is Needed
The local voices, those living and working in the Iron Range, said over and over the economic boon is badly needed in the region. This project means “security, education, and jobs.” Mining jobs pay well and put significant resources back into the community as well as ensuring jobs for decades to come.
Mr. Jugovich spoke to the benefits of mining to Iron Range communities. “Our children go to school here, our grandchildren go to school here,” he explained, and the mining dollars put back into the community and also the school districts mean new opportunities for these communities. “Mining is the backbone of our economy,” he added. We must “unshackle the Iron Range” to be able to grow local economies and source our much-needed resources here at home.
Policies, Not Politics
Brian Hanson, Chair of Jobs for Minnesota, stated “trust the science, trust the regulators.” The group reiterated repeatedly this has turned into a political debate disguised as an environmental or regulatory issue.
Congresswoman Marianne Miller-Meeks (R-IA) emphasized that, “This is not a Minnesota issue, this is an American issue.”
Ultimately, experts and advocates came together in support of moving forward with mining exploration in the Duluth Complex. The U.S. will not be able to achieve the political goals being touted by the Administration if it does not. This has become a “mutually exclusive” proposition. Without the needed minerals, we won’t be able to produce the technology needed to lower emissions. We must bring the mining and processing of critical minerals home to the United States.
If we continue to push mining overseas, emissions and humanitarian concerns will worsen, and we won’t hit global standards. You cannot have responsible energy without sourcing our own minerals.