FGI files suit seeking records on domestic critical minerals ban

The federal government pushing a transition to electric technologies while blocking domestic sources of minerals makes our energy security dependent on China

March 7, 2023

(Washington, DC) – Today, the Functional Government Initiative (FGI) announced transparency litigation against the Department of Agriculture (USDA) for failing to release records related to the cancellation of the Twin Metals lease in the Duluth Complex in northeastern Minnesota.

In March 2022, FGI filed multiple Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests for records surrounding the Biden administration’s cancellation of the Twin Metals mine. The proposed mine would have tapped into 95 percent of the U.S. nickel reserves and 88 percent of its cobalt, minerals necessary for electric battery technology. FGI’s FOIA request seeks to uncover what USDA communicated about the area with outside special interests as the agency pushed Interior to block mining. Those records would be even more enlightening now after recent actions by the administration. In January 2023, the Interior Department imposed a 20-year ban on the project, prohibiting any mining in the area for the foreseeable future. The stated reason blocking the mine is its proximity to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, managed by USDA’s Forest Service. Almost a year after FGI filed the initial FOIA request, litigation appears to be the only path to obtaining the documents.

While the Biden administration pushes increased use of electricity technologies, it has simultaneously placed roadblocks on the ability to reach that goal using domestic sources. The actions appear to put America’s green future in the hands of the Chinese Communist Party. Shortly after canceling the Twin Metals lease, the administration acknowledged that the United States was behind China, which already accounts for 60 percent of the world’s rare earth minerals. The incident represents yet another aspect of the federal government’s perplexing and dysfunctional energy policies.

Peter McGinnis, spokesman for FGI, issued the following statement:

“The Biden Administration appears set on tying the fate of the country’s green transition to the whims of the Chinese Communist Party. The Twin Metals Mine is one such project that could have made the United States a competitor in the global critical mineral supply chain. Inexplicably, supply chain, human rights, and geopolitical concerns over the rise of China seem to have given way to the wishes of special interest groups opposed to any domestic mining or energy production. The public deserves to know why this mining project was really cancelled and who the key players were in this decision.”