8.1. Trump moves to loosen mining regulations, approve projects as he exits
Outgoing U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration is moving to loosen mining regulations and green light new mineral projects before leaving office this month, with successor Joe Biden unable to reverse some of the changes. Administration officials tell Reuters they plan to publish a raft of decisions on Jan. 15 that will expand miners’ access to federal lands, give final approval to Lithium Americas Corp’s Nevada lithium mine and approve a land swap for a Rio Tinto Ltd Arizona copper mining project, among other steps. Biden will be able to reverse some of Trump’s changes, especially proposed rules under regulatory review. But some of Trump’s steps will either be irreversible or require Biden to restart the rule-making process, a years-long effort, which is a concern to environmentalists. “The Trump Administration’s midnight dance to aggressively push these proposed rules follows four years of gutting already weak community and environmental oversight of the hard rock mining industry,” said Lauren Pagel of Earthworks, an environmental advocacy group. Trump administration officials finalized a rule on Friday that added mining to a list of industries that can receive fast-tracked permitting, part of a law signed by former President Barack Obama in 2015, according to government records here. The change becomes effective immediately. The law, known as FAST-41, was intended to streamline permitting for utility projects, such as power transmission lines.