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We do not need more dirty mining to achieve a clean energy future

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What’s At Stake

To avoid the worst effects of the climate crisis, we must quickly ramp down our reliance on fossil fuels and transition to clean energy. But as we transition to clean energy, we also must be aware of the increased demand for critical minerals like lithium and cobalt that are required to build out solar panels, electric vehicles, wind turbines, and battery storage. We cannot justly move to a clean energy future at the cost of harming people or the environment. That’s why we need to find sustainable solutions to meet the demands for these critical minerals.

The Biden administration is taking steps in that direction and recently announced plans to update our country’s mining laws and regulations. Since 1872, the law governing mining operations on public lands has remained unchanged. The current policies in place do not guarantee a sustainable supply chain that protects communities from the impacts of mining and extraction of critical and other minerals.

As we look toward our clean energy future, we know that we do not need more dirty mining to get there. We have the opportunity to do what the fossil fuel industry never did — to set out from the beginning to better protect the communities and environments impacted by energy development.

There is a comment period open now and the Department of the Interior is looking for your input. Join Earthjustice today in advocating for solutions that together can ensure a sustainable supply chain for critical minerals.

Emigrant Gulch aerial view looking east from Emigrant Peak. There are mine claims on both sides of the gulch on both private and public land.
Photo courtesy of William Campbell

Emigrant Gulch aerial view looking east from Emigrant Peak. There are mine claims on both sides of the gulch on both private and public land.

Your Actions Matter

Your messages make a difference, even if we have leaders who don't want to listen. Here's why.

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You level the playing field.

Elected officials pay attention when they see that we are paying attention.

They may be hearing from industry lobbyists left and right, but hearing the stories of their constituents — that’s your power.

Our legislators serve at the pleasure of the people who gave them their job — you. When you contact your elected official, you’re putting a face and a name on an issue. Whether or not you voted for them, they work for you, for the duration of their term.

Make sure your elected officials know whose community and whose values they represent. (Find your local, state, and federal elected officials.)

Your action is with us in court.

If a federal agency finalizes a harmful action, the record of public comments provides a basis for bringing them into court.

Throughout each of the public comment periods we alert you to, Earthjustice’s attorneys are researching and writing in-depth, technical comments to submit — detailing how the regulation could and should be stronger to protect the environment, our communities, and our planet.

We need you to join us — your specific experiences, knowledge, and voice are crucial to add to the Administrative Record through the comment periods.

Lawsuits we file that challenge weak or harmful federal regulations rely on what was submitted during the comment period. The court can only look at documents that are in the Administrative Record — including the public comments — to decide if the agency did something improper.

Your actions aid our litigation. Taking action and submitting comments during a comment period is substantively important.

It’s the law.

Federal agencies must pause what they’re doing and ask for — and consider — your comment.

Many of us may have never heard of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), but laws like these require our government to ask the public to weigh in before agencies adopt or change regulations.

Regulations essentially describe how federal agencies will carry out laws — including decisions that could undermine science, or weaken safeguards on public health.

Public comments are collected at various points throughout the federal government’s rulemaking process, including when a regulation is proposed and finalized. (Learn more about the rulemaking process.) These comments become part of the official, legal public record — the “Administrative Record.”

When the public responds with a huge outpouring of support for environmental protections, these individual messages collectively undercut politicians' attempts to claim otherwise.

What this means is each of us can take a role in shaping the rules our government creates — and ensuring those rules are fair and effective.