China manufactures and refines the lion's share of the world's rare earth material supply required for essential energy technologies.
Rep. Guy Reschenthaler (R-Pa.) questioned Interior Secretary Deb Haaland on Tuesday on how the Biden administration's climate strategy strengthens China during a House Appropriations Committee hearing, according to Fox News.
Tuesday, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland admitted that the Biden administration's climate strategy, which relies on global key mineral supply lines, strengthens China. At a House Appropriations Committee hearing on her agency's planned 2024 budget, Haaland was frequently questioned about the administration's environmental policies preventing further American production of essential minerals and allowing for more reliance on Chinese-sourced minerals.
In a conversation with Pennsylvania Republican Representative Guy Reschenthaler, Haaland stated that green energy sources "deepen" dependency on China imports.
"I'm telling you right now that 63% of rare earth mining [occurs in China]," Reschenthaler stated. "By deductive reasoning, that would mean that electric vehicles and renewables deepen our reliance on China. Correct?"
"Yes," Haaland responded.
Green energy technologies such as electric car batteries, solar panels, and wind turbines necessitate a significant increase in the production of cobalt, copper, lithium, nickel, graphite, zinc, and other minerals.
According to an estimate by the International Energy Agency, an electric vehicle requires 500% more mineral resources than a conventional gas-powered vehicle, and a single onshore wind turbine facility requires 800% more minerals than a conventional fossil fuel plant.
The great bulk of mining and processing of these commodities, however, occurs outside the United States, leaving the country more dependent on foreign minerals despite its abundant local resources. A report produced by the White House in 2021 stated that China controls more than half of the world's rare earth mining capacity and an astounding 85 percent of rare earth refining capability.
"The United States must secure reliable and sustainable supplies of critical minerals and metals to ensure resilience across U.S. manufacturing and defense needs, and do so in a manner consistent with America’s labor, environmental, equity and other values," the report added.
Yet, under Haaland's leadership, the Department of the Interior has taken a number of steps to reduce the production of essential minerals statewide.
One year after cancelling mining permits in the region, Haaland finalized a 20-year ban on mining across 225,504 acres in a northern Minnesota forest with large key mineral deposits earlier this year.
In addition to a substantial quantity of cobalt, copper, nickel, and platinum-group metals, the region has around 88% of the nation's cobalt deposits. Additionally, a DOI subagency stated earlier this month that it will explore a second 20-year mining restriction on 20,574 acres containing lithium, gold, copper, and silver resources near Rapid City, South Dakota. Haaland's organization has also obstructed significant mining projects in Arizona and Alaska.
"Whether it’s northern Minnesota, southern Arizona, Alaska, or now South Dakota, these sorts of land restrictions from the anti-mining Biden administration hamstring domestic development of minerals we need for national defense, energy technology, and everyday life," Rep. Pete Stauber, R-Minn., the chairman of the House Natural Resources Energy and Mineral Subcommittee, recently told Fox News Digital.
"We need to be using our resources we have here with our workforce, not taking them offline," he continued.Later in her conversation with Reschenthaler, Haaland denied that Biden administration policies favored Chinese supply networks over local options. You just told me that your department banned critical mineral mining in Rapid Creek watershed and in northeast Minnesota. You also told me that we're heavily dependent on China," the Pennsylvania Republican said. "Would your actions not make us more heavily dependent on China?"
"No. Since 2021, the [Bureau of Land Management] has approved 20 new mines," Haaland responded.
Later in the session, when questioned whether the permitted mines would generate essential minerals, the interior secretary responded that she was uncertain.