(UnitedVoice.com) – In January, President Joe Biden’s administration established a 20-year ban on mining from Minnesota’s Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. The area contains one of the world’s largest unmined copper deposits. It’s been in the middle of a battle over a proposal to build a nickel and copper mine.
US Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland recently went before the House Appropriations Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Subcommittee to talk about her budget. During the session, a congressman who used to hold her job grilled her.
On March 28, Rep. Ryan Zinke demanded to know more about the Interior Department’s decision to shut down mining projects. The congressman was in a unique position to ask Haaland questions because he held the position from 2017 to 2019 under former President Donald Trump.
The congressman released a transcript of the interaction between himself and Haaland. During the questioning, he asked the secretary if she realized China is responsible for producing “more emissions than any other country on the planet.” She responded that she had “probably” come across that before.
Zinke went on to ask Haaland if she was aware that multiple studies show that in order for the country to meet the current electric vehicle requirements, an increase of 2,000% in minerals is necessary over the next 20 years. Haaland responded, “Thank you for that information.” The representative asked her if she knew Northern Minnesota, the area where the moratorium was enacted, is where those critical minerals are located. The secretary told Zinke that she was “not sure.”
In a statement above the transcript, Zinke slammed the secretary for not being able to “answer basic questions” about the decision to kill mining projects, American dependency, or critical mineral deposits.
Haaland signed the Minnesota moratorium in January. At the time, The New York Times reported she said she made the decision after a scientific review was completed on the area. The government also had conversations about mining rights with tribal leaders.
Haaland said that protecting areas like “Boundary Waters is key to supporting the health of the watershed,” the wildlife in the area, the economy, and “upholding our Tribal trust and treaty responsibilities.”
The study found that mining in the area would cause irreparable harm to the Rainy River watershed, the $540 million annual tourism industry, and hurt the fishing and hunting rights of the Chippewa tribes.
Republicans argue the US will have to rely on countries like China to meet its mineral needs now that Biden is preventing mining in the area.
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