A recent commentary piece by Printus LeBlanc, contributing editor at Americans for Limited Government, draws attention to the home-grown nature of America’s critical mineral resource issues and their geo-political context.
LeBlanc sets the stage using the example of a relatively unknown Chinese phone company becoming the focus of Congressional concern because the Administration was in discussions to lift or modify sanctions on the company linked to the Chinese government. A Senate committee recently passed legislation blocking the easing of the sanctions imposed on said company with Senators from both sides of the political spectrum, including Sen. Marco Rubio, a Republican representing Florida, and Sen. Chuck Schumer, a Democrat from New York arguing for a tough stance on China.
As LeBlanc argues:
“What the Senate is ignoring or doesn’t know, is it played a rather large part in creating the problem with ZTE.
Not a peep about the reason China dominates the technology manufacturing industry from either side of the aisle in the Senate. It seems both Senators forget the core problem. Yes, communications equipment made in China is probably being used as spying devices and should not be trusted, but environmentalist regulators have made it next to impossible to mine the rare earth elements (REEs) needed to make the equipment in the U.S.”
Indeed, the United States is 100% import-dependent on foreign supplies of REEs to meet domestic needs, which range from military to clean energy applications, communications technology and household gadgetry. China has long played politics with its near-total supply monopoly, and U.S. efforts to lower our import reliance faltered when a North American mining company sourcing REEs domestically went bankrupt.
LeBlanc argues that an amendment in the recently passed National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), H.R.5515 by Rep. Mark Amodei (R, NV), which would streamline the permitting process for mining projects, would go far in addressing the REE problem:
“The amendment passed with bipartisan support showing the House understands the problem. Now if the camera hogging Senate wanted to show it was truly serious about the danger of Chinese telecommunications equipment, it should easily pass the same amendment in the Senate version of the NDAA.”
Read the full piece here.
And, for more context on the NDAA discussions, read ARPN Principal Daniel McGroarty’s recent Investor’s Business Daily piece on the importance to make the connection between critical minerals and national defense.