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How to fight climate change and reduce China reliance in one fell swoop

We need more domestic mining to fight climate change. On its surface, this may seem counterintuitive. How does cutting into the earth and extracting its resources lead to a cleaner future? Often regarded as the oil of the clean energy economy, critical minerals — otherwise known as the minerals and metals needed for low-carbon energy — are necessary for constructing everything from solar panels and wind turbines to electric vehicle batteries. Republican Rep. Pete Stauber, from my home state of Minnesota, opened the 118th Congress by introducing a bill to reform mine permitting nationwide. The bill sets time limits on reviews, streamlines interagency communication during the review process, and limits the possibility of lawsuits after a decision is published. Expediting domestic mining projects, Stauber argues, would strengthen supply chains and put America first. This legislation addresses a pressing geopolitical challenge: China controls 90% of critical minerals in the world. Yet, China’s environmental record is shady at best, and nefarious at worst. Allowing a country with duplicitous motives to have such control of a supply chain vital to solving climate change is not just foolish; it’s dangerous. China has already weaponized its power over critical minerals against Japan in 2010 and would, without a doubt, do it again. Demand for these minerals will rise exponentially as the world works to electrify the energy and transportation industries, and we must meet that demand. Currently, mining is synonymous with human rights abuses in the Congo and environmental destruction in China. By contrast, critical minerals mined and processed on U.S. soil and that of our allies — where labor and environmental standards are among the highest in the world — are better for the environment and its inhabitants. Last year, President Joe Biden signed legislation restricting solar panel imports from China because they were constructed with slave labor . China also owns several cobalt mines in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where human rights abuses abound, namely, deeply unethical child labor practices. Reshoring critical mineral production, from mining to processing, is crucial to the United States’ climate strategy, national security, and geopolitical influence. Both Congress and the Biden administration have acknowledged this, and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law contained significant funding for extracting additional critical mineral resources from mining waste. Still, there’s more work to do. We can’t solve our critical mineral problem alone. Countries with both high environmental standards and regard for human rights must collaborate to mine and process critical minerals without the influence of the Chinese Communist Party. The United States, Canada, Australia, South Africa, and other Western nations have significant resources that we can mine and process responsibly. We cannot sit around on our iPhones while children work in dangerous cobalt mines, nor can we accept the destruction of communities around Chinese mining sites. As I’ve written before, we cannot sacrifice human rights for climate action. Depending on China for the building blocks of the clean energy future is not a necessary evil. Here in the United States, we can get the minerals we need without destroying our environment. Danielle Butcher Franz is the executive vice president of the American Conservation Coalition Action. Read the organization’s policy agenda here . Washington Examiner Videos Original Location: How to fight climate change and reduce China reliance in one fell swoop

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Daisie Hobson

Daisie Hobson is a Director at the Reshoring Institute and an engineer with many years of experience in manufacturing and project management.

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