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The Biden administration has issued a 20-year ban on new mining claims in the upper Midwest’s famed Iron Range, and it is turning to foreign supply chains as it pushes green energy projects.
The move comes as the U.S. continues to rely on foreign suppliers for critical minerals used in wind turbines and electric vehicles.
The ban is part of a broader effort by the White House to reduce reliance on imported minerals, particularly from China, which is accused of dumping cheap products into the U.S., causing prices to plummet.
The Trump administration has been working on curbing this practice through tariffs imposed on steel and aluminum imports from China and other countries. But critics say those efforts are misguided because they would raise costs for American companies that use those metals in their products — from cars and airplanes to solar panels and wind turbines — while doing little to curb Chinese overcapacity.
In addition, they argue that such tariffs would exacerbate America’s trade war with China by driving up prices American consumers and manufacturers paid.
The Biden Administration recently announced a 20-year ban on mining, shifting its focus to foreign supply chains as part of its push for green energy. One significant project affected by this ban was the Twin Metals mining project, which was estimated to contain 88% of the country’s cobalt reserves and large amounts of copper, nickel, and platinum-group elements. These critical minerals are crucial for various green energy technologies, including electric vehicle batteries, battery storage systems, solar panels, and wind turbines.
For instance, producing an electric vehicle requires 500% more minerals than a conventional gas-powered car, while a single onshore wind turbine requires 800% more minerals than a typical fossil fuel plant.
Interestingly, just a week before the mining ban, the Biden Administration signed a memorandum of understanding with Zambia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, two countries that are well-known for their child labor practices in mining rare metals like cobalt and copper. This move raises questions about the administration’s commitment to promoting ethical and sustainable practices in its green energy initiatives.