Amid Biden push for electric vehicles, debate grows over “green” mining

Minnesota, long known as the Land of 10,000 Lakes, is a heralded haven for people and wildlife alike, a state rich in natural resources.

But now, a nickel mine proposed for northern Minnesota poses a threat to the stability of precious wetland ecosystems, according to critics trying to block the project. Though backers of the mine claim it will be an environmentally friendly operation that provides crucial material for the production of electric vehicle batteries, challengers say the mine could actually create more environmental problems than it will solve.

The battle illustrates one of many challenges arising as the Biden administration pushes for a rapid transition away from fossil fuels and toward so-called clean energy. In May, the Biden Administration paused the environmental review process for an Arizona copper mine in the face of similar concerns from Indigenous tribes about what the mine there might do to water quality.

“We’re not opposed to mining, but we have to ensure that these activities do not endanger our natural environment or our Indigenous communities,” said Kelly Applegate, commissioner of natural resources for the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe. A community of Mille Lacs members live near the site designated for the Minnesota mine, which would sit just outside the tiny town of Tamarack.