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“Keep It In The Ground” Too Simplistic — We Need Holistic “All of the Above” Approach to Critical Minerals

After several positive steps indicating an openness towards a holistic “all of the above” approach on critical minerals, it appears that the Biden Administration may be backpedaling.

As Reuters reported earlier last week, the Administration is planning to “rely on ally countries to supply the bulk of the metals needed to build electric vehicles and focus on processing them domestically into battery parts, part of a strategy designed to placate environmentalists.”

Described by Reuters as a “blow to U.S. miners who had hoped Biden would rely primarily on domestically sourced metals, as his campaign had signalled last autumn,” the Biden plan would reportedly focus on processing rather than “digging a hole.”

In a piece for the Deseret News, several weeks before the Reuters story, Thom Carter, energy adviser to Utah Gov. Spencer Cox and executive director of the Governor’s Office of Energy Development, outlined the pitfalls of the “keep it in the ground” mantra the Biden administration appears to be succumbing to, and how an “all of the above” energy strategy has helped Utah thrive.

Writes Carter:

“This [all of the above] policy has served Utahns well. We have some of the lowest energy costs in the country. Our energy sector provides good jobs with high wages. According to the Utah Department of Workforce Services and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Utah energy sector had the second-highest paying jobs of any sector in the state in 2019, with the tech and information sector coming in higher by a very small margin.”

He cautions that the “keep it all in the ground” push by “Washington, D.C. and the East and West Coasts” provides little more than a “talking point,” but that “anyone who says that you can get power through a ‘keep it in the ground’ policy isn’t telling you the truth. (…) All power, whether traditional or renewable, is impacted by what comes out of the ground. Advocating for renewable energy sources also means maintaining, if not expanding, our mining infrastructure.”

Recent studies — we featured the latest IEA study here — and policy experts agree: against the mounting pressures of the 21st Century Tech Metals Age, keeping it all in the ground is too simplistic, and a holistic “all of the above” approach to energy and critical minerals is the only viable path to success.