Deb Haaland, the Interior Secretary, justified her action to close a critical mineral mine in Minnesota by citing the abundant employment opportunities already accessible to the American workforce.

During a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing on Tuesday afternoon, Senator Josh Hawley from Missouri questioned Deb Haaland about her choice to prohibit mining on 225,504 acres close to Duluth, Minnesota earlier this year. Haaland's response to Hawley's inquiry was in defense of her decision, pointing out that the project's developer's estimate of over 1,000 job opportunities was outweighed by the already available employment options. Hawley, on the other hand, criticized the move, emphasizing the predicted favorable economic outcomes of the initiative.

"Your decision to trade off our energy security in favor of a radical climate change agenda is making us more and more dependent on China. And, at the same time, you are blocking permits for mines in this country," Hawley said.

"The jobs for blue collar workers in this nation are valuable resources. The livelihood and well-being of American families are valuable resources," Hawley continued. "The ability of America to have our own industry and not be dependent on China is a valuable resource. Why should those things for millions of Americans be sacrificed in favor of your agenda for radical climate change?"

Haaland's response was to highlight the large quantity of employment opportunities available throughout the country.

"Senator, I know that there's like 1.9 jobs for every American in the country right now. So, I know there's a lot of jobs," Haaland claimed.

"Wait a minute, wait a minute, wait a minute, wait a minute," Hawley fired back. "You're telling me we've got too many jobs in the country?"

"Well, I'm saying that we don't have enough people," she responded. "That's why we are having a hard time finding folks to work at our department."

The Department of Labor's most recent report, released on Tuesday, revealed that the United States currently has around 9.6 million job vacancies. The data showed that there are approximately 0.6 jobless individuals per job opening.

Senator Hawley strongly condemned Haaland's statements, claiming that decisions such as exporting employment opportunities overseas have devastated entire communities in the Midwest, including the ones he represents in Missouri. He further stated that over three million positions had been moved to China.

"They are blue collar workers. And you're sitting here and telling me that we have too many jobs in this country. Are you serious?" he continued.

"I want to take the strongest possible exception to that comment and that entire mentality which I think is very honest. I think it reflects the mentality of your administration which is, when it comes to blue collar workers in this country, 'you're on your own. Good luck.'"

Hawley also claimed that her statement was possibly "the most unbelievable statement I have heard from a member of this administration."

Later on, Haaland emphasized that her management of the Interior Department had resulted in the creation of job opportunities by initiating a program to cap abandoned oil and gas wells.

"These are communities that rely on this government to find a way forward for them," she said. "There is, unfortunately, a dearth of legacy pollution in this country. Those are jobs, good paying, well-paying jobs with benefits that Americans are having because of President Biden and his policies."

"We're proud to move those issues and those programs forward for the American people."

In January, Haaland declared a 20-year ban on mineral leasing on lands near the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in Minnesota, citing environmental apprehensions. This announcement followed her decision to revoke Twin Metals Minnesota's two leases situated in the Superior National Forest outside of the wilderness region, which occurred about a year prior.

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