Energy & Environment

Sanders attacks ‘corporate welfare’ to coal industry included in relief package

The latest coronavirus stimulus package introduced by Senate Republicans on Tuesday includes efforts to aid the mining and coal industries in a move already angering some in the Democratic caucus.

The Tuesday bill includes a bipartisan effort by Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) to establish a critical minerals program along with another section that includes millions for research into extracting rare earth metals from coal.

“How pathetic,” Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) wrote on Twitter after the Republican rollout of the bill, which also includes a $300 per week federal unemployment benefit boost, a reduction from the $600 in extra benefits approved in the first coronavirus package.

“While Senate Republicans tell us we can’t afford to give $2,000 a month to the working class during the economic crisis, the COVID-19 ‘relief’ bill they just released provides $161 million in corporate welfare to the coal industry during a climate emergency,” Sanders added.

Rare earth metals and other critical minerals are used in a variety of products, from medical technologies to batteries that could prove useful in increasing reliance on renewable energy sources.

But mining of those sources raises many of the same environmental concerns that accompany extraction of any resource.

The Murkowski-Manchin bill that is incorporated into the package would require the Interior Secretary to designate a mineral as critical for national security purposes. The department would be required to review and update the list every three years.

“Our nation’s mineral security is a significant, urgent, and often ignored challenge. Our reliance on China and other nations for critical minerals costs us jobs, weakens our economic competitiveness, and leaves us at a geopolitical disadvantage,” Murkowski said when the bill was first introduced.

Tags Bernie Sanders Coal coronavirus relief COVID Joe Manchin Lisa Murkowski
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