Commentary: Biden’s Clean Energy Plan Requires US Mining Renaissance | Chroniclers
These new technologies consume much more minerals than the systems they replace. An electric vehicle uses six times the mineral inputs of a conventional car. And an onshore wind power plant requires nine times more mineral resources than a gas power plant.
Unfortunately, the United States is now heavily dependent on China and other countries for these raw materials. In fact, the United States’ dependence on mineral imports has doubled over the past two decades. And thanks to aggressive mercantilist policies, China now controls 70% of global lithium supplies, 80% of rare earth metals, and about 70% of global graphite.
A major concern is that China is using extremely toxic practices to extract these resources. In Inner Mongolia, Chinese miners dumped refinery waste into a poisonous man-made lake large enough to be visible on Google Earth. And the Chinese deposit site of Bayan-Obo is made up of dangerous sludge about three times the size of Central Park.
In contrast, US mining operators adhere to the strictest environmental standards in the world. However, the licensing process for new US mines can often take up to a decade. Countries like Australia and Canada typically approve new mines in just two to three years, even with equally stringent environmental controls.
To meet growing demand and reduce imports from China, the United States must begin to exploit more of these resources at home. The good news is that the United States has over $ 6 trillion in mineral reserves. It is time for federal policies to change in favor of mining and materials processing in the United States. Otherwise, President Biden’s clean energy program might fail to meet its goals – and leave the United States dependent on China’s reckless mining industry.
Michael Stumo is CEO of the Coalition for a Prosperous America. Follow him on @michael_stumo