America’s mining industries are booming. Here’s why.

America’s mining industries are booming. Here’s why.

America's mining industries are booming. Here's why.

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Q: Some observers have noted that the development of the domestic manufacturing and mining industry could easily take years, as the IRA’s domestic content requirements will soon come into force. Is there a risk that we could stall cleantech and climate progress in the United States if we don’t develop these sectors fast enough to qualify for government support?


A: We try to be both aggressive and smart about it. And we work with our Treasury colleagues and our IRS colleagues who do the heavy lifting on tax incentives and timelines. There are some flexibilities in the way Congress has drafted the legislation, but there’s also clear policy direction and some areas where it’s not very flexible in that sense.

Q: It takes a long time to authorize a large project. And we’ve already seen rejection against some mining proposals, including a lawsuit against the Thacker Pass lithium mine in Nevada. How will the DOE or the administration ensure that the nation can build adequate capacity to achieve climate goals, while balancing environmental impacts and community concerns?

A: There’s a reason we have the (National Environmental Policy Act) and other environmental laws, and we have to be true to both the spirit and the wording of them. But we also have a real need, as you said in your question, to try to build fast.

You can make permits that are smart and thoughtful and take into account all the environmental impacts and ramifications. But you can do it in a timely manner and in a way that doesn’t drag on for years and years and years. Especially if you do it in a way that involves community engagement from the start. A lot of times you get sued and delayed if you try to do things and you don’t bring the community up front and make sure there’s a mutually beneficial element.

Tribal members and others protested the proposed Thacker Pass mine outside a federal courthouse in Reno, Nevada, earlier this year.


The other thing that we’re certainly doing on the Department of Energy side is that we’re focusing a lot on recycling, especially as we get higher and higher volumes of these materials. We are also looking at alternative chemicals and other research and development – to try to use less of it, more of it, if it’s easier to see that it has fewer environmental implications. So it’s something that we spend a lot of money, time and energy on.

Q: The IRA has created friction with the EU and other allies, including complaints that local content requirements and other provisions will unfairly favor US industries. Can you describe the efforts made by the administration to address these concerns?

A: We have many, very constructive, good conversations with our European colleagues about some of their concerns about the IRA and some of the concerns about the provisions. We are stronger if we move forward together, including on critical minerals, including supply chains.


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