Senate Western Caucus Slams Biden Administration’s Attack on American Miners

September 13, 2023

WASHINGTON, D.C.— Today, Senate Western Caucus Chair Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) along with several members of the Senate Western Caucus released the following statement in response to the Department of Interior’s (DOI) out-of-touch Interagency Working Group (IWG) recommendations on mining. This report includes an 8% royalty rate while failing to address permitting delays. 

“The Biden administration’s problematic proposal not only fails to address the painfully slow permitting process but increases our dependence on foreign adversaries like China for our mineral and energy needs,” said Sen. Lummis. “We have the opportunity to empower American miners and bolster our economy, yet this administration continues to push policies that put our nation last. The Senate Western Caucus will continue to fight for the west and push back on this administration’s harmful policies.” 

“President Biden is taking a sledgehammer to affordable, reliable energy. Today’s proposed mining reforms will force us to buy more critical minerals from mines using forced and child labor instead of harnessing our abundant resources here at home,” said Sen. Barrasso.“Permitting mines in the U.S. can take over a decade. These proposals will slow the process even further. If the Biden Administration’s reforms are enacted, Americans will be even more dependent on imports from our adversaries – including China.”

“The recommendations for mining reform included in the Interagency Working Group report are yet another blow to the American mining industry at the hands of the Biden Administration,” said Sen. Sullivan. “Not only do they recommend more red tape for producing our nation’s abundant critical minerals, but also locking up the lands needed to produce them. Since day one, this administration has been focused on shutting down and delaying the production of American energy, and delaying and shutting down our mining projects while pressuring Americans to buy electric vehicles and solar panels. If the Biden administration has its way, America’s future will be reliant on dictatorships such as China and Venezuela for energy and critical minerals—including those vital to our national security—for decades to come. The insanity needs to stop.”

“We must shore up America’s critical and strategic mineral supply chains—resources that are necessary for everything from clean energy to technology manufacturing to national defense. Yet, at the same time, President Biden is recommending policy changes that would decimate the domestic mining industry and make us even more reliant on China for the minerals we use every day. Congress must streamline our nation’s ability to use our domestic natural resources, not hamstring them,” said Sen. Risch.

“Our nation’s mineral and technology independence relies on strong domestic mining and production in mineral-rich states like Idaho,” said Sen. Crapo. “We should encourage new domestic production instead of hampering progress with more arbitrary timeframes and subjective criteria for new leases.” 

“I’m disappointed, but not surprised, that the Biden administration is continuing their attack on American miners at the expense of national security and global competitiveness,” said Sen. Daines. “The IWG’s recommendations would put America at a disadvantage and put good-paying Montana jobs in jeopardy. We should be supporting more responsible mining to meet the growing needs of our nation—not setting up more roadblocks. I’ll continue to push back on Biden and the Democrats’ war on Montana mining jobs.”

“Utah boasts a wealth of mineral resources, with the potential to lead both at home and abroad. However, the IWG’s recent recommendations are out of touch with Utah’s mineral sector realities, especially when demand for these resources is at an all-time high. Instead of prioritizing practical solutions, an undue emphasis on woke environmentalism overshadows the tangible challenges on the ground. We must forge our own way, drawing from our distinct strengths, rather than being influenced by generalized approaches that miss Utah’s unique potential,” said Sen. Lee.