Critical and strategic minerals are essential to our economy, livelihood and national security. Renewable energy, medical devices, national defense equipment, agriculture and everyday items such as computers or light bulbs are all dependent on minerals.
Because critical minerals are vital to renewable energy production and other new technologies, their domestic production must be an integral part of an all-of-the-above energy approach to create jobs and decrease our reliance on foreign energy.
There are many concerns with the current state of our national mineral policy:
The United States’ reliance on foreign minerals has significantly increased over the last 25 years and today we are 100% reliant on foreign sources of rare earth minerals. This dependence is sending American jobs overseas, harming our economy and jeopardizing our national security.
China currently accounts for 97 percent of the world’s rare earth mineral supply. Last year China announced an embargo of rare earth minerals to Japan and quietly restricted exports to the U.S. and Europe.
Leaving our manufacturing base and economy to the whims of foreign nations that control the resources needed for our modern economy is unacceptable.
Last year, the USGS released a report revealing 13 million metric tons of REEs exist within known deposits in 14 U.S. states. However, our supply of minerals is meaningless if they are not brought into production.
Our dependence on foreign sources of minerals not only cost American mining jobs, but American manufacturing jobs, renewable energy jobs and technology jobs.
The National Strategic and Critical Minerals Policy Act of 2011 will provide essential facts to help us strengthen and improve our national mineral policy.
Specifically, the bill:
Directs the Secretary of the Interior to coordinate a government wide assessment of the Nation’s mineral resources and availability to meet current and future strategic and critical mineral needs.
Requires the Secretary of the Interior to evaluate factors impacting domestic mineral development, including workforce, access, permitting and duplicative regulatory requirements as well as identify areas for improvement.
Directs the Interior Department to assemble the report within six months.
Requires an annual progress report, beginning one year after the date of enactment of the Act for the following two years, outlining the progress made in reaching the policy goals described in the bill.