Trump Gives Polluting Mining Projects a Pass

The administration’s latest executive order would allow one of the most damaging industries in the nation to skirt thorough environmental reviews.

A view of the 500-foot-deep open pit mine, part of Molycorp's Mountain Pass Rare Earth facility in Mountain Pass, California

David Becker/REUTERS

The Trump administration issued an executive order today that seeks to both expand and fast-track polluting mining projects—posing substantial risks to critical water resources, nearby communities, and untouched public lands.

“Under the guise of national security, the Trump administration is trying to short-circuit the ability of people to have a say in dirty mining projects near their homes,” says Bobby McEnaney, director of NRDC’s dirty energy project, “and it’s undercutting necessary environmental reviews.”

The order impacts the mining of 35 minerals that the U.S. Department of the Interior identified as “critical,” including those identified as having vulnerable or global supply chains. But the extraction of these minerals—many of which are common, such as aluminum, and used to make things like weapons and electronics—often requires destructive and chemically laden processing techniques that leave behind massive amounts of toxic waste byproduct.

The White House also instructed a number of federal agencies to “use all available authorities to accelerate the issuance of permits and the completion of projects in connection with expanding and protecting the domestic supply chain for minerals,” including those that are not reliant on foreign imports. 

“We need a careful assessment of these projects more than ever, but this action instead is a massive giveaway to some of the most damaging and polluting industries in our nation,” McEnaney says. “We’re looking closely at the legality of the executive order and will be working with our partners around the nation to do all we can to fight it.”

Stop Trump's pro-polluter push to throw out environmental reviews

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