The executive order is meant to jump-start the mining of rare earth metals for alternative energy batteries.
As the price of oil and gasoline soars, President Joe Biden continues to focus on alternative energy. His latest executive action may not show real world results for years.
Procuring the raw materials needed for the batteries which are necessary to produce electric vehicles and other alternative energy technologies had become difficult even before the COVID pandemic decimated supply chains.
Most of these metals are currently mined from China. The US has relatively few operating mines. Biden’s order is meant to push markets to invest in domestic mining projects. However, some industry experts are skeptical.
Nadia Schadlow, a former national security advisor, says the move is a “paper response” that will amount to very little. In order to compel quick results, she says the Biden administration would also need to loosen environmental regulations, which it has not been willing to do.
“There’s not going to be a change with community views toward mines or environmental views on mines,” Schadlow said. “While the expression of will might be a good thing, meaningful change is going to require addressing the issues that have blocked mining production over the years.”
Indeed, environmental groups are also publicly opposing the measure. The policy director for Earthworks issued a news release skewering the decision which read in part, “The clean energy transition cannot be built on dirty mining.”