‘It’s China’: Biden Interior Secretary Flunks Hawley’s Quiz On Who Dominates Critical Mineral Production

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Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland was unable to answer questions Tuesday from Republican Sen. Josh Hawley on which country dominates the production of critical minerals that are utilized in the manufacturing of electric vehicles.

“On the subject of the sweeping mandates related to electric vehicles that the Biden administration has imposed, including now for our military, the metals needed to make the lithium-ion batteries in those vehicles are of course lithium, nickel, graphite, and cobalt,” Hawley said during a hearing of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on the Biden administration’s budget request for the U.S. Department of the Interior for Fiscal Year 2024. “Now, can you tell me what nation is the largest producer of refined lithium in the world?” (RELATED: ‘It’s Not Going To Work’: ‘Shark Tank’ Star Pours Cold Water On Pentagon’s Plan For ‘All-Electric Fleet’)

Haaland said she did not know. China refines 60% of the world’s lithium and 80% of the world’s cobalt, according to a 2021 Department of Defense report.


“It’s China,” Hawley said before asking similar questions about refined cobalt and graphite. Haaland said she did not know that most of the refined cobalt and graphite in the world were produced in China.

President Joe Biden set a goal to have half of all light trucks and passenger vehicles be electrically-powered by 2030, while also calling for all heavy and medium trucks to be “zero-emission” by 2040, according to a White House fact sheet released April 12. Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act into law in August, which included a tax credit for electric battery production and tax credits for various energy-efficient appliances and electric cars.

Despite Biden’s push for electric vehicles, the Biden administration blocked efforts to start mining for copper and nickel near the Boundary Waters Canoe Area in January, the Wall Street Journal reported. In addition, the Environmental Protection Agency made a determination Jan. 31 that would block the mining of 1.4 billion tons of copper, gold, molybdenum, silver and rhenium in Alaska in order to protect salmon.

“In all of these instances, these mandates, your decision to trade off our energy security in favor of a radical climate change agenda is making us more and more dependent on China, and at the same time, you are denying mining, blocking mining, blocking permits for mines in this country that would allow us to develop nickel and copper and cobalt,” Hawley said. “Why? Why block the development of these resources in our own nation in favor of making us dependent on China?”

Haaland cited environmental concerns as the justification for blocking mining near the Boundary Waters area.

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