‘Massive Payday For China’: Biden’s Mining Strategy Is Undermining His Agenda And Helping China, Experts Say

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  • The Biden administration’s climate agenda is empowering China economically and geopolitically by simultaneously inhibiting American mining and promoting green technologies, multiple energy sector experts told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
  • China dominates the global supply or refining capacity of numerous minerals that are essential components in the manufacturing of products like electric vehicles and solar panels.
  • “The Biden administration’s policies are sacrificing our energy security while empowering China to control our energy future at the same exact time,” Tom Pyle, president of the American Energy Alliance, told the DCNF.

President Joe Biden’s mining efforts are making America more dependent on China while handicapping America’s ability to source key raw materials to build green technologies, experts told the Daily Caller News Foundation.

The Biden administration has blocked several domestic opportunities to mine raw materials for which China is the global leader in extraction, refining or both, according to a 2022 report on electric vehicles (EVs) by the International Energy Agency (IEA). Many of the minerals and materials that Biden’s agenda is restricting domestically are essential components for green technologies that his climate agenda depends upon at the same time, such as electric vehicles and solar panels, according to a different report by the IEA.

“The Biden administration’s policies are sacrificing our energy security while empowering China to control our energy future at the same exact time,” Tom Pyle, president of the American Energy Alliance, told the DCNF. The Biden administration aims to have the U.S. power sector achieve net-zero carbon dioxide emissions by 2035, and to have the overall economy reach net-zero by 2050.

These raw materials and minerals include lithium, copper, cobalt and rare earth minerals, such as germanium and gallium, according to the IEA’s minerals report. The total combined green energy-related demand for lithium, nickel and cobalt will be 23 times higher in 2035 than it was in 2021, and overall demand for copper will be twice as high by then, according to a new study by S&P Global. (RELATED: Chinese Solar Companies Have Been Dodging Tariffs, Biden Admin Says)

The administration’s general strategy rests on the assumption that the energy transition will present an opportunity for a boom of new working-class jobs to manufacture green technologies using repatriated supply chains for sourcing. Numerous experts told the DCNF that the administration’s moves to restrict mining activity in the U.S. poses a major issue for its overall strategy and plays into China’s geopolitical interests.

EVs are one of several technologies that the administration is hoping can reduce U.S. carbon dioxide and greenhouse gas emissions, according to the White House. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed new tailpipe emissions standards in April, which would effectively require American auto manufacturers to have their new fleets consist of 67% EVs by model year 2032.

The National Highway Safety Traffic Administration (NHTSA) supplemented the EPA’s desired tailpipe regulations with its own July proposal to update the Corporate Average Fuel Efficiency (CAFE) standards, which would amount to “an EV mandate,” Dan Kish, senior fellow for the Institute for Energy Research, told the DCNF at the time.

The administration effectively blocked a major Alaskan mining project in January, imposed a 20-year moratorium on new mining claims in South Dakota in May and revoked a permit for a Minnesota nickel mine in June, according to Fox News and E&E News. Other minerals affected by these decisions and others like them include graphite and copper, both of which are needed to build the green technologies that would be needed to usher in the green transition, according to the IEA minerals report.

Biden “and his appointees will go to great lengths to support its chosen rent-seeking donors in the wind and solar industries,” David Blackmon, a 40-year veteran of the oil and gas business who now writes and consults on energy, told the DCNF. There are “a thousand examples of Biden energy policies rendering the U.S. increasingly dependent on China for its energy security,” he added.

The batteries that power EVs require lithium, a mineral which must be refined in a chemical-intensive process before it is used for batteries, according to SAMCO Technologies. China controls well above 50% of the globe’s refining capacity despite its relative lack of control of lithium extraction, according to the IEA’s EV report.

China also controls production of two key components of battery cells used for EVs and solar panels, with more than 60% of the world’s battery cathode production and more than 75% of global anode production under its control, according to the IEA’s EV report. Together, China produces more than 75% of the world’s battery cells and more than 50% of the world’s EVs.

China’s domestic EV market appears currently to be far ahead of that of the U.S. Nearly 25% of passenger vehicles sold in China in 2022 were electric or plug-in hybrid vehicles, as opposed to approximately 7% of new car sales in the U.S., according to NBC News.

“Joe Biden’s forced transition will be nothing but a massive payday for China,” Larry Behrens, Western states director for Power The Future, told the DCNF. “The market for the rare-earth metals needed for Biden’s electrification demand is dominated by China by up to 80% at the same time he brags about shutting off lands from domestic production while spending billions on unreliable energy,” Behrens continued, adding that “it all points to one conclusion: Joe Biden has never seen a cash giveaway to China he doesn’t like.” (RELATED: US Turns To Country Notorious For Child Labor And Unsafe Mines To Source Its EV Ambitions)

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) sources about 70% of the global supply of cobalt, which is also used to build battery cells that power EVs and solar panels, according to the IEA’s EV report. Though the DRC nominally controls the cobalt supply, Chinese entities own or co-own 15 of the country’s 19 cobalt mines, according to a 2022 report by The Diplomat.

Additionally, many of the cobalt mining operations in the DRC are known for being unsafe and taking advantage of child labor, with as many as 40,000 children working in Congolese mines, according to a 2021 report by the Wilson Center. Republican Rep. Chris Smith of New Jersey introduced a bill in June that would ban imports containing key minerals extracted by child labor in Congolese mines and counter Chinese control of the global critical minerals supply if it were to become law.

The U.S. only has one operational cobalt mine, located in Michigan, according to E&E News. Another cobalt mine project located in Idaho halted construction in May, as inexpensive product from the DRC made the project economically unviable.

Some critics of the Biden administration’s green agenda, like Republican Rep. Rick Allen of Georgia, have suggested that the U.S. ought to embrace nuclear energy as a power source because it is reliable, could ensure energy independence and does not generate greenhouse gas emissions. The U.S. imports a considerable share of its uranium from Russia, even after the February 2022 invasion of Ukraine led to sanctions against the Russian economy, according to The New York Times.

Biden declared in August that nearly 1 million acres near the Grand Canyon would become a national monument, making the uranium-rich protected lands off-limits for future mining claims. That designation followed the Senate’s July vote to overwhelmingly pass the Nuclear Fuel Security Act, which would instruct the Department of Energy to prioritize actions that would boost domestic production of two types of uranium to fuel U.S. nuclear reactors.

The national monument “designation from President Biden is his latest doubling down on an incohesive energy strategy that forces Americans to use so-called ‘green’ energy while simultaneously blocking development of the very resources necessary to achieve that objective,” Jack Spencer, senior research fellow for energy and environmental policy for the Heritage Foundation’s Center for Energy, Climate, and Environment, told the DCNF. The U.S. is setting itself up “to depend on adversarial nations like Russia and China to provide the same mineral and fuel resources necessary to produce the sorts of energy these green energy policies demand,” he added.

The White House did not respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.

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