Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

Trump Signs Executive Order to Mine the Moon for Minerals

Politics
The moon sets over the border fence between the U.S. and Mexico on March 14, 2017 in Hidalgo, Texas. John Moore / Getty Images

In the midst of a global pandemic, President Donald Trump found time earlier this week to sign an executive order for U.S. companies to mine the moon's mineral resources, according to Newsweek.


The executive order makes it clear that the administration does not view space and celestial bodies as global commons, allowing for mining operations without any international treaties, as The Guardian reported.

"Outer space is a legally and physically unique domain of human activity, and the United States does not view space as a global commons," the order, called Encouraging International Support for the Recovery and Use of Space Resources, states.

According to Mining Technology, the order states that commercial partners participate in an "innovative and sustainable program" headed by the U.S. to "lead the return of humans to the Moon for long-term exploration and utilization, followed by human missions to Mars and other destinations." The document adds that successful long-term exploration of space will require commercial entities to recover and use resources, including certain minerals, in outer space.

While the order specifically noted that a return to the moon would allow the country to explore and exploit lunar minerals, it implied a future commercialization of the solar system would apply to "the Moon, Mars, and other celestial bodies," as The Palm Springs Desert Sun reported.

The U.S. never signed the 1979 moon treaty, which states that non-scientific use of space resources must be governed by international regulations. Then in 2015, Congress passed a law to allow American companies and citizens to use resources from the moon and asteroids, as Newsweek reported.

As The Guardian points out, the willingness to plunder natural resources is part and parcel with the administration's policies on Earth. The Trump administration has opened up wide swaths of public land to mining and rolled back environmental regulations in an attempt to prop up the coal industry.

The federal government has routinely ignored requests to update the main law governing hardrock mining, even as the planet careens towards a climate crisis. The law has been effectively untouched since its inception in 1872, according to The Palm Springs Desert Sun.

The U.S. interests in the moon seem to revolve around building a sustainable settlement. In 2024, the Artemis 3 mission will touch down at the moon's South Pole, brining one female and one male astronaut who will become the first moonwalkers of the 21st century, as Forbes reported. While that will be a brief visit, NASA has plans for future Artemis missions to create "a sustained lunar presence" in 2028.

The Artemis program is seen as a program to create a waystation for an eventual U.S. voyage to Mars, though it's not clear how these long-term plans will work nor what role private companies like SpaceX will play, as Popular Mechanics reported.

According to Popular Mechanics, "Scientists and researchers are investing a lot of time and resources in ways astronauts will be able to gather what's around them on the moon or on Mars in order to make building materials, life-sustaining shelter, and even renewable fuel for people staying on these celestial bodies."

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Residents plant mangroves on the coast of West Aceh District in Indonesia on Feb. 21, 2020. Mangroves play a crucial role in stabilizing the coastline, providing protection from storms, waves and tidal erosion. Dekyon Eon / Opn Images / Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Mangroves play a vital role in capturing carbon from the atmosphere. Mangrove forests are tremendous assets in the fight to stem the climate crisis. They store more carbon than a rainforest of the same size.

Read More Show Less
UN World Oceans Day is usually an invite-only affair at the UN headquarters in New York, but this year anyone can join in by following the live stream on the UNWOD website from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST. https://unworldoceansday.org/

Monday is World Oceans Day, but how can you celebrate our blue planet while social distancing?

Read More Show Less
Cryptococcus yeasts (pictured), including ones that are hybrids, can cause life-threatening infections in primarily immunocompromised people. KATERYNA KON/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY / Getty Images

By Jacob L. Steenwyk and Antonis Rokas

From the mythical minotaur to the mule, creatures created from merging two or more distinct organisms – hybrids – have played defining roles in human history and culture. However, not all hybrids are as fantastic as the minotaur or as dependable as the mule; in fact, some of them cause human diseases.

Read More Show Less
National Trails Day 2020 is now titled In Solidarity, AHS Suspends Promotion of National Trails Day 2020. The American Hiking Society is seeking to amplify Black voices in the outdoor community and advocate for equal access to the outdoors. Klaus Vedfelt / DigitalVision / Getty Images

This Saturday, June 6, marks National Trails Day, an annual celebration of the remarkable recreational, scenic and hiking trails that crisscross parks nationwide. The event, which started in 1993, honors the National Trail System and calls for volunteers to help with trail maintenance in parks across the country.

Read More Show Less
Indigenous people from the Parque das Tribos community mourn the death of Chief Messias of the Kokama tribe from Covid-19, in Manaus, Brazil, on May 14, 2020. MICHAEL DANTAS / AFP / Getty Images

By John Letzing

This past Wednesday, when some previously hard-hit countries were able to register daily COVID-19 infections in the single digits, the Navajo Nation – a 71,000 square-kilometer (27,000-square-mile) expanse of the western US – reported 54 new cases of what's referred to locally as "Dikos Ntsaaígíí-19."

Read More Show Less
World Environment Day was put into motion almost fifty years ago by the United Nations as a response to a multitude of environmental threats. RicardoImagen / Getty Images

It's a different kind of World Environment Day this year. In prior years, it might have been enough to plant a tree, spend some extra time in the garden, or teach kids the importance of recycling. This year we have heavier tasks at hand. It's been months since we've been able to spend sufficient time outside, and as we lustfully watch the beauty of a new spring through our kitchen's glass windows, we have to decide how we'll interact with the natural world on our release, and how we can prevent, or be equipped to handle, future threats against our wellbeing.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Experts are worried that COVID-19, a primarily respiratory and airway disease, could have permanent effects on lungs, inhibiting the ability for divers to continue diving. Tiffany Duong / Ocean Rebels

Scuba divers around the world are holding their metaphorical breath to see if a coronavirus infection affects the ability to dive.

Read More Show Less