November 17, 2010
On the heels of a Wall Street Journal report
outlining America’s dependence on China’s tightening rare earth element (REE) market, the USGS released a report
today revealing 13 million metric tons of REEs exist within known deposits in 14 U.S. states. While the largest deposits exist in California, Alaska and Wyoming, additional known REE deposits are found in Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, and South Carolina.
China currently accounts for 96 percent of the world’s REE supply, which among other high-tech uses are essential components to emerging renewable energy technologies. Much like our current reliance on foreign oil, America will not be able to implement an all-of-the-above energy strategy if we continue to import all of the REEs necessary to facilitate alternative energy technologies. Further, thousands of high paying mining jobs are currently being sent overseas to China due to America’s lethargic mine permitting process.
“As we forge ahead with the goal of creating jobs and producing more energy at home, America cannot afford to trade a dependence on foreign oil for a dependence on foreign minerals,” said Natural Resources Committee Ranking Member Doc Hastings. “This report proves that America has the resources to implement an all-of-the-above energy strategy, including the rare earth elements that are vital to the development of alternative energy technologies like solar and wind. But our supply of domestic rare earth minerals is meaningless if we don’t bring them into production. We need to make development of these resources a national priority - creating jobs and protecting our energy security.”
According to Green Car Advisor, “The Toyota Prius is one of the most rare-earth-intensive consumer products ever made, with each Prius containing about 2.2 pounds of neodymium and about 22 pounds of lanthanum.”
Other examples of rare earth elements necessary for alternative energy sources:
- Uranium is used to produce nuclear energy.
- Silicon and titanium are used to produce solar panels.
- Zinc is used to produce wind turbines.
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