Today Earthjustice and a coalition of conservation, human rights, Indigenous, and justice-focused organizations sent a letter to President Joe Biden concerning the President’s directive to invoke the Defense Production Act for sourcing critical minerals. The groups urged the administration to institute strong cultural, environmental, and due diligence standards for any mechanisms involved with the sourcing of critical minerals like lithium, cobalt, nickel, manganese, graphite, and other metals.
“The clean energy era can avoid repeating the mistakes of the fossil fuel era by meeting the demand for critical minerals in the most sustainable way possible: by recycling, reusing, and extending the life of materials we already have,” the groups wrote. “Research shows that circular economy solutions such as recycling can significantly reduce demand. By prioritizing demand reduction strategies like mineral recycling, reuse, and substitution, the country and the world can move away from extraction reliance. Where new mining is necessary, we must take special care to protect communities, biodiversity, and natural resources, particularly those relied on by Indigenous peoples and protected by treaties.”
The Ukrainian aid bill that will likely pass this Senate this week currently contains funding to implement President Biden’s executive order. The groups strongly cautioned the administration against using those funds to subsidize mining operations that could run contrary to the administration’s commitment to environmental justice.
“We do appreciate the administration’s commitments to Justice40, environmental justice, and Indigenous Traditional Ecological Knowledge (ITEK),” the groups continued. “We also support the Interior Department’s new Missing and Murdered Unit, which seeks to address the staggering rates of violence against Indigenous persons — much of which is connected to extraction. These commitments compel the administration to use this PD, as well as the interagency working group on mining reform, to reduce demand, require free, prior, and informed consent (FPIC), due diligence, transparency, and update our mining laws and rules.”
Read the full letter.