Chair Grijalva Statement on President Biden’s Decision to Use Defense Production Act to Boost Mining of Select Minerals

Washington, D.C. – Natural Resources Committee Chair Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) released the following statement on President Joseph R. Biden’s newly announced decision to issue a determination permitting the use of Defense Production Act (DPA) to boost mining on U.S. public lands.

“There’s no situation in which I’m going to feel good about giving even more subsidies to the mining industry. Hardrock mining is governed by a severely outdated 150-year-old law that lets mining companies get away with destroying the environment and hurting nearby communities, without paying a cent in federal royalties or paying to clean up toxic abandoned mine lands.

"I’m heartened, however, that the White House recognizes the fundamental flaws in the rules governing mining on public lands and is committed to putting much-needed safeguards in place. I’m also optimistic that President Biden and Interior Secretary Haaland will move this decision forward with the same commitment to consulting affected tribes and local communities they have demonstrated throughout this administration.”

The determination will not apply to uranium and copper mining, both of which have threatened to permanently destroy tribal sacred sites like Oak Flat and the Grand Canyon for years. Chair Grijalva recently published an opinion piece countering the uranium industry’s calls for increased uranium mining following Vladimir Putin’s attack on Ukraine.

Earlier this week, Chair Grijalva and Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-Calif.), chair of the Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources, sent a letter to President Biden expressing serious concerns about the use of DPA to increase mining on public lands. The lawmakers urged the administration to instead prioritize “improving regulations that protect public lands, clean water, and tribal communities from the harmful impacts of mining.”

The Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources held a hearing on July 17, 2021 examining the toxic legacy of the Mining Law of 1872 and the need to strengthen environmental safeguards for mining.

Chair Grijalva plans to reintroduce comprehensive mining reform legislation later this spring.

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