Rick Whitbeck: If Biden wants to thwart Chinese EVs, he should should look to domestic mining

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Rick Whitbeck

By RICK WHITBECK | REAL CLEAR ENERGY

The Biden administration’s decision to raise tariffs on Chinese-manufactured electric vehicles, steel, computer chips and other technological products is the epitome of a penny wise and a pound foolish.

To much of the nation, the news was a re-election flip-flop, or an attempt to prop up the electric vehicle industry Biden has prioritized since he took office, as part of his green agenda. The international supply chain for electric vehicles isn’t going to magically stop running through the Chinese Communist Party anytime soon.

If Biden really wanted to curb Chinese geopolitical power, he would make fundamental changes to his administration’s history of attacking domestic mining opportunities. Allowing development of copper, graphite, nickel, cobalt and other critical and strategic minerals right here at home would go much further than imposing tariffs.

Biden has demonstrated affinity for promoting “net zero” policies and forcing transitions away from traditional energy supplies of oil, gas and coal. In a nutshell, the attacks on domestic mining projects seem completely counterproductive.

According to the International Energy Agency, staggering quantities of subsurface elements will need to be mined by at least five times their current worldwide production by 2040 to meet the Biden administration’s green energy goals. Graphite, cobalt and lithium all will be needed in quantities exceeding 25 times (or more) their current supplies. In the next quarter century, we will need twice as much copper than has been produced in the last three thousand years.  All of which is impossible when Joe Biden won’t let us dig.

The U.S. has tremendous opportunities to have our own mineral resources. Yet, the Biden Administration has thwarted their development at nearly every turn. For example, massive copper and nickel deposits could be developed in Minnesota at the Twin Metals and Duluth Complex projects, but Biden has ordered each of them off-limits for development. The Resolution copper prospect in Arizona met a similar fate, with the Department of Interior placing on “indefinite hold” on its approval.

The western hemisphere’s largest copper prospect is Alaska’s Pebble Mine. Kowtowing to environmental extremists – and ignoring a clean U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) – the EPA continues to stymie progress on a deposit worth more than $500 billion. All the while shutting down the possibility of 700 full-time jobs in an area of rural Alaska that has seasonal unemployment exceeding 20%.

Alaska has been the target of more than 60 administrative and executive orders targeting its resource-based economy since Biden assumed office.  One of the most recent took place on Earth Day, when a congressionally-authorized road to the Ambler Mining District – an area rich in copper, zinc and other strategic and critical minerals – was stopped by the Department of Interior. 

Just like with the Resolution mine in Arizona, Interior used “Indigenous opposition” as its deciding factor, even though many villages and tribes closest to the mining district publicly support the project and its future employment opportunities. In Alaska, the Biden administration literally blocks the road to the minerals his tariffs claim to protect.

Alaska’s Gov. Michael Dunleavy, along with its entire congressional delegation, has been openly critical of the continued hypocrisy of the Biden administration when it comes to talking “net zero” and acting with vigor to oppose domestic mining projects.

The same response has come from many within the Minnesota and Arizona congressional community. They’ve been unable to break through to the administration, as Team Biden chooses to listen to eco-activists and career bureaucrats with an anti-development agenda.

What would hurt China, empower America, and begin to chip away at the global imbalance would be mining and processing our crucial minerals and elements domestically. Let’s see if the Biden Administration wises up to that fact, or if America tires of being subservient to the CCP and makes fundamental changes to federal leadership in November.

Rick Whitbeck is the Alaska State Director for Power The Future, a national nonprofit organization that advocates for American energy jobs and fights back against economy-killing and family-destroying environmental extremism. Contact him at [email protected] and follow him on X (formerly Twitter) @PTFAlaska

17 COMMENTS

    • From Cyrus Fogg Brackett Professor of Physics at Princeton University William Happer:

      “A major problem has been the co-option of climate science by politics, ambition, greed, and what seems to be a hereditary human need for a righteous cause. What better cause than saving the planet, especially if one can get ample, secure funding at the same time? Huge amounts of money are available from governments and wealthy foundations for climate institutes and for climate-related research. Funding for climate studies is second only to funding for biological sciences. Large academic empires, prizes, elections to honorary societies, fellowships, consulting fees and other perquisites go to those researchers whose results may help “save the planet.” Every day we read about some real or contrived environmental or ecological effect “proved” to arise from global warming. The total of such claimed effects now runs in the hundreds, all the alleged result of an unexceptional century-long warming of less than one degree Celsius. Government subsidies, loan guarantees, and captive customers go to green companies. Carbon-tax revenues flow to governments.”

    • Right, Frank. Whatever you say.

      Road access to a mining district rich in rare earths doesn’t make economic sense. Truck whatever is shipped to Fairbanks, load it on the AKRR and ship it to wherever for processing. Yup. No economic sense at all.

      Now about Pebble……

      Cheers –

  1. Give up Rick, The Biden Crime syndicate is completely bought out by the CCP.
    My experience with UTV’s ATV’s motorcycles cars (junk) the Chinese have engineered and sold to “unsuspecting Americans” (fools) at a very low price has been a complete failure and ended up in landfills.
    I think the chinese engineered EV’s will flood the market for average Americans who cant afford all the expensive EV’s and end up in landfills like most everything else from China.

    Mining for the materials needed for EV’s is off the table for America so we are stuck with whatever crap the “clean Mines of china” can produce just like the “clean oil” we are buying from Venezuela.

    We may be broke but at least Alaska will be “clean”

  2. The Polymet project in Minnesota would provide a domestic source of nickle except it has been trying to get permits for something like 18 years. What is the NPV of a cash flow starting over a decade in the future? If we want to have investment in domestic mineral production, we have to fix these permitting delays that are pushed by well funded activists.

  3. What world are you living in? Grandpa Bloodstains is opposed to any and all energy and material development. You should know this by now.

  4. I can only assume Rick also thinks Trump’s Chinese tariffs were pennywise and pound foolish. I would disagree with both assessments, but I’m sure there are many that will overlook pot vs. kettle aspect here.

  5. Whitbeck is incorrect on pebble as President Trumps Army Corp. of Engineers denied permits to pebble after getting caught on audio tape lying about the size of the would be mine in the their security’s fraud conviction, and I haven’t even mentioned the U.S. EPAs permit denial of or their Cook Inlet Gas scheme that would require Coast Guard permits.
    Plus, most all Alaskans don’t want foreigners participating in a resource giveaway, go to hell pebble and do let the door hit you in the ass.

  6. Another Biden term and AK907 will be ‘Locked-Up!’ Left-Wing Hedge Funds (aka: insiders) will merely buy mineral rights … ‘CHEAP’ for ‘Pennies on the Dollar!’ Then, the aligned political machine (ie: Lisa and Mary) will vote for access, exploration and production while pocketing campaign donations and their fair-share vig.

    Open Your Eyes … That’s the poker play here!

  7. You’ll pay ten bucks more for a lithium motorcycle battery than its lead acid counterpart. A couple years ago that difference was an order of magnitude and you’re not going to fix American industry by putting it on a stipend. Use whatever you want from China and know that the key to your children’s future is not subsidizing yet another foreign entity (Canada in much of Alaska’s mineral effort) to extract whatever wealth might lie underground here.

  8. The sanctions against China are empty. The 3 largest Chinese EV manufacturers are building massive plants in Mexico. The EVs will be made in Mexico and imported without added tariffs accordingly with our trade agreements with Mexico. The profits will be sent to China through the alternative to the US Dollar financial system BRICS.

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