Biden Admin Could Use ‘Indigenous Knowledge’ To Kill Critical Mining Project

Biden Admin Could Use ‘Indigenous Knowledge’ To Kill Critical Mining Project

  • March 28, 2024

Joseph Simonson, Free Beacon

The Biden administration could use “indigenous knowledge” to jettison a critical mining proposal projected to yield billions of dollars in precious metals used for renewable energy projects.

Documents and emails obtained by Protect the Public’s Trust and reviewed by the Washington Free Beacon show that senior Interior Department staff consulted with tribal leaders in an environmental review of the Ambler Access Project, a proposed 211-mile road in northwest Alaska that leads to copper and zinc deposits, considered to be some of the largest in the country. Those two metals are used in a variety of consumer products, such as batteries and wind turbines.

The White House released a draft of its environmental review for the project, which is expected to cost $2 billion, last October. The over 1,000-page draft contains at least 14 references to “indigenous knowledge,” a pseudoscientific belief that posits native peoples possess unique insights about the workings of the universe.

In her first months as Interior Secretary, Deb Haaland promised to ‘unleash the science.’ Yet, when it matters, her department is using undeniably subjective approaches that are not subject to evaluation, validation, or duplication—that are decidedly not science—in making major decisions,” said Michael Chamberlain, director of Protect the Public’s Trust.

The documents show the proliferation of “indigenous knowledge” throughout the government since the White House’s 2022 memorandum directing federal agencies to consider the belief system in “research, policies, and decision making.” Senior White House officials have already cited “indigenous knowledge” in the decision to deny oil drilling leases, and the Centers for Disease Control recently added the practice to its scientific integrity guidelines.

“Indigenous knowledge,” emails show, could eventually make its way into the environmental evaluation process for the Ambler Access Project. Among the new types of analysis in the environmental review, a summary of the report states, is the expanded “incorporation of Indigenous Knowledge gained through consultations, ethnographic interviews, comment letters and testimony.”

Read more