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Today President Biden signed the $1 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which includes a new $3 billion program to help remediate the more than 500,000 abandoned mines that have posed environmental and public health dangers for decades or centuries, mostly in the West. This program was proposed by Senators Heinrich (D-NM), Daines (R-MT), and Kelly (D-AZ), proving that cleaning up abandoned mines is a bipartisan, popular issue. The infrastructure to support the transition to renewable energy requires a variety of minerals (cobalt, lithium, and nickel, among others) that must be sourced responsibly without creating new or exacerbating existing sacrifice zones, many of which are Indigenous communities. 

Statement from Lauren Pagel, Earthworks’ Policy Director:

“We applaud the inclusion of a dedicated program to address the problem of abandoned mines and thank Congress and the President for working together on behalf of mining-impacted communities. Too many American communities live with, and pay for, pollution left behind by mining companies. This investment is an essential first step towards holding them accountable for their pollution, while providing needed jobs transforming landscapes scarred by hardrock mining. 

“We face an existential climate crisis, and must move quickly to convert our infrastructure to support low-carbon energy. While this bill does not adequately meet the demands of the moment, the Build Back Better Act contains a number of critical programs to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. We urge Congress to swiftly pass the Build Back Better Act, including the Methane Emissions Reduction Plan.”

FOR MORE INFORMATION

  • Just Minerals: Safeguarding protections for community rights, sacred places, and public lands from the unfounded push for mining expansion

Earthworks is dedicated to protecting communities and the environment from the adverse impacts of mineral and energy development while seeking sustainable solutions.

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