Biden mine permitting report fell short, watchdog says

By Hannah Northey | 04/02/2024 01:27 PM EDT

The Interior Department’s Office of Inspector General said a report released last year failed to comply with some requirements in the bipartisan infrastructure law.

Interior Department headquarters.

Interior Department headquarters. Francis Chung/POLITICO

The Biden administration’s report on how to reform mine permitting failed to provide a clear path for addressing delays that are hampering critical mineral projects, as required by the bipartisan infrastructure law, an agency watchdog found.

The Interior Department’s Office of Inspector General in a March 29 report laid out how and why federal agencies didn’t fully address requirements of the law, which called for tackling delays around federal reviews of mining projects.

The watchdog’s findings highlight the complexity federal officials are facing in attempting to analyze, track and decipher the often complicated permitting processes for mines, including those needed to produce materials like lithium for electric vehicle batteries that are central to President Joe Biden’s climate agenda.


Last year, an interagency working group led by the Interior Department released a raft of 60 recommendations to speed up mine approvals and revamp the nation’s 151-year-old law that governs hardrock mining. The Biden administration is attempting to accelerate permitting, while balancing the need to protect vulnerable and sacred lands.