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January 26, 2024 BOISE, IDAHO - Today, the Idaho Mining Association and A Common Sense America convened a strategic roundtable to discuss national security concerns surrounding America’s critical mineral supply and efforts by foreign interests and environmental activists to block domestic development and increase dependence on foreign supply. Moderated by Ben Davenport, Executive Vice President of the Idaho Mining Association, the event brought together key policymakers, industry leaders, and subject matter experts. The panel included: Steve Crim, Executive Director at A Common Sense America; Senator Mark Harris (R-Soda Springs), Senate Majority Caucus Chair; William Myers III, Partner at Holland & Hart; Randy Vranes, Business Unit Manager at Bayer Crop Science; and Claudio Berti, Director at Idaho Geological Survey.

Idaho’s Congressional delegations’ natural resources policy advisors shared policy objectives and initiatives related to mining and land use policy. Darren Parker, of Senator Risch’s office, shared that the Senator is laser-focused on addressing the challenges presented by the Rosemont decision, which changes the interpretation of mining claims and could create limitations to mining operations across the country. Craig Quarterman, of Congressman Simpson’s office, shared that Simpson is working to amend the critical minerals list to include potash and phosphate, key minerals for food production.

Casey Attebery, Senator Crapo’s State Director of Natural Resources and Environment, noted that Senator Crapo has led on the issue of natural asset corporations, in conjunction with Governor LIttle and the entire Idaho delegation. Dirk Mendive, of Congressman Fulcher’s office noted that Fulcher is working closely with his colleagues

and is committed to ensuring that the United States responds proactively to the threat posed by China and other adversaries in defending our mining interests.

A central topic of the roundtable was the Caldwell Canyon mine legal dispute, where environmental groups successfully halted the development of a phosphate mine, a project already approved by the Bureau of Land Management. The case, as discussed by Randy Vranes and William Myers, underscored the complex interplay of legal, environmental, and economic factors in mining operations.To date, the mining operator has invested more than 200 million dollars in permitting, developing, and constructing the project, money lost should the appeals process prove unsuccessful.

Senator Harris reflected on the impact lost mining jobs have at the local level. He remarked that these decisions “come down to people and communities” and that “these mines make our communities.” Mining employees work, live, and recreate in their local communities. He closed by noting that “conservation groups give lip service” to environmental issues by saying that “mining companies are the real environmentalists.”

Davenport asked panelists to share solutions to the issue of foreign influence and environmental activists' success in derailing mining companies. “Idaho’s phosphate production is key to America’s food security and when organizations, like Center for Biological Diversity, can use our court system to shut down Bayer AG’s Caldwell Canyon Phosphate mine Steve Crim shared examples of actions taken in states around the country, including a proposed bill that would mandate that NGO’s disclose any funding received from foreign countries like China and Russia, as well as legislation to limit foreign governments' ability to purchase land. In 2023, the Idaho Legislature passed House Bill 173, legislation that addressed this very issue and prohibited foreign governments from purchasing agricultural land, water rights, mining claims, or mineral rights in Idaho. Crim emphasized that actions could, and should, be taken at both the state and federal levels to ensure a robust and appropriate response.

The roundtable concluded with a strong message on the need for strategic actions to protect and enhance America's critical mineral supply chain, ensuring its security against foreign manipulation and disruptive environmental activism. This event has shed light on the significant role of mining in national security and local economies, underscoring the urgency for continued dialogue and decisive action in this crucial sector.



(Washington DC - 5/3/2023) - Recent national security reports have uncovered efforts by China, Russia and other countries hostile to the United States to shape domestic policies that harm our country’s national security, food security, energy independence and technological advancements.

“Make no mistake, we are at war - not in the traditional military sense - but a new kind of war that strikes at the very fabric of our country. China, Russia and others are aggressively pursuing economic, social, and cultural warfare type tactics to divide Americans and weaken America from the inside - out,” stated Steve Crim, Common Sense America Executive Director. “The use of front groups is one of their key weapons in this war.”

The Office of National Intelligence (ONI) released the 2023 threat assessment for America and this report reveals the growing threat America faces from foreign interests, such as China and Russia. Specifically, the report found foreign interests are “Using a variety of tools”, like front groups, in order to “build influence at the state and local level to shift U.S. policy in [their] favor because of the belief that local officials are more pliable than their federal counterparts.”

A Congressional Committee found that the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD), arranged meetings with US politicians, held press conferences and coordinated publicity events on behalf of foreign activists in efforts opposed to America’s national defense.

“Countries seeking to do us harm may be working in concert with extreme special interest groups on both sides of the aisle to exploit American liberties and destroy our freedoms,” Crim continued.

In 2018, the Center for Biological Diversity and other environmental groups were the subjects of a congressional investigation concerning foreign influence and underreporting of taxpayer funds received through "sue and settle" lawsuits. The Center for Biological Diversity routinely files lawsuits to stop the production of critical minerals; Navy and Airforce training; building and expanding military bases; and most recently trying to stop our space and rocket program by suing the FAA over SpaceX. Collaborating with local activists, these legal actions extend from the federal level to municipal government entities.

Legislation is now pending in Congress to enhance transparency and reporting over foreign influence over these groups; end the use of “sue and settle” tactics that misuses money meant for the Endangered Species Act; and ensures access to critical minerals important to our supply and food chains regarding national security.

A Common Sense America (CSA), a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting transparency and accountability, has called on the Governors and Attorneys General of Idaho, Florida, and South Carolina, as well as the congressional Committee on Natural Resources, to further investigate foreign influence on environmental groups, including the Center for Biological Diversity and Sierra Club. The Committed began an investigation in 2018 and CSA has an ongoing investigation.

To learn more on how Common Sense America is bringing a common sense approach to our government on our website.

Download Common Sense America’s letter to Congress here: Read our Letter to Congress


Common Sense America is a 501c4 grassroots organization committed to bringing a common sense approach to our government. Our mission is to highlight failed extremism on both ends of the political spectrum and hold our leaders accountable to the overwhelming majority of Americans who do not feel represented by the extremist policies being forced upon them.

As an organization, we advocate for a common sense approach to policies and solutions. We support efforts that will strengthen the economy, promote energy diversification and innovation and drive mainstream solutions that make our communities safer.

(May 1, 2023) - Today, we have sent Governor Little a letter urging his administration to investigate the Center for Biological Diversity, Sierra Club and other extremist front groups for potentially utilizing foreign investment and resources to influence policy in the state of Idaho with the goal of undermining America’s food production, and economic and national security interests.

Less than six weeks ago, the Associated Press published an article, “Amid strained US ties, China finds unlikely friend in Utah,” outlining Chinese in the state of Utah via investment in the Mormon Church, to influence state policy issue areas that have direct impact on national security. This is most certainly the tip of the iceberg of efforts from foreign entities to influence domestic policy.

Read our letter by clicking on this here.

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