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Laterite nickel ore is obtained by strip-mining.

Air Quality

Trump Gives Polluting Mining Projects a Pass

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.

Originally published on The Expert Blog, NRDC.

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.”


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NRDC is the nation's most effective environmental action group, combining the grassroots power of 1.3 million members and online activists with the courtroom clout and expertise of more than 350 lawyers, scientists, and other professionals.

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