Press Release

TWS: Dramatic ramp up of toxic mining leaves communities behind


Shane McLendon/Unsplash

Shane McLendon/Unsplash

Today’s Executive Order would subsidize increased mining, without any reforms to the archaic 1872 mining law the industry currently operates under.

The Biden administration announced plans to issue an Executive Order today to use the Defense Production Act to increase domestic mining for minerals and materials used for large capacity batteries – including lithium, nickel, cobalt, graphite, and manganese.

In response, The Wilderness Society released the following statement from President Jamie Williams:

“We should not be subsidizing a dramatic ramp up of toxic mining on public lands when our nation’s 150-year-old mining law leaves vulnerable communities without a sufficient voice in decisions about the pollution and runoff that results.

“We can and must pivot our country to a clean energy economy, and that must be paired with reforms and stronger commitments to tribal consultation, public input and comprehensive regulations to protect the vital watersheds and wildlife corridors that make our country habitable.”

The majority of untapped nickel, copper, lithium and cobalt reserves are located near Native American reservations and tribal lands.

The mining industry currently operates on public lands under an archaic 1872 mining law that contains inadequate environmental protections for communities and allows miners to pay zero royalty fees, unlike other industries. The Biden administration has highlighted the need to reform this law and agency regulations, but today’s Executive Order would subsidize increased mining before such reforms could be implemented.


Alex Thompson, Senior Communications Manager