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A new mining fight ropes in NASA

Cattle in Railroad Valley, Nevada

Cattle in Nevada's Railroad Valley. Photo Bernard Friel/UCG/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Nevada Rep. Mark Amodei is raging at a mining ban that NASA wanted.

Why it matters: Nevada's desert sprawl is mostly undeveloped and chock-full of lithium needed for EVs and battery storage projects.

Driving the news: Amodei yesterday released a bill to undo an Interior Department order banning new mining on roughly 23,000 acres in Nevada.

  • Nevada-based 3 Proton Lithium is trying to develop the area for mining lithium used in batteries. 3PL is one of several firms that want to mine in that region, known as Railroad Valley.
  • NASA is seeking the land where 3PL wants to mine for a satellite calibration site. Interior implemented the space agency's wishes, withdrawing the acres in April.
  • The Railroad Valley region is a dry lake bed, home to an imperiled toad species and natural springs crucial to nearby farmland.

Yes, but: NASA has said the spot is only one of a few available in the U.S. to do this work. It requested this withdrawal in 2019 under President Trump.

  • No matter — conservatives call it an anti-mining chess move.
  • "It is supposedly a goal of the Biden administration to boost the development of renewable energy technology.... This is a prime example of this administration saying one thing and then doing the exact opposite," Amodei said in a news release.

What's next: A House Natural Resources subcommittee will discuss the bill at a hearing next week.

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