A group of seventeen U.S. senators has introduced legislation aimed at addressing the United States’ mineral supply issues. The bill, titled Critical Minerals Policy Act of 2013, was put forth by Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) and the Ranking Member of the committee, Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), both of whom were joined by a bipartisan group of senators from mining states.
Among other things, the bill would:
- Require the Secretary of the Interior to maintain a list of minerals and elements designated as critical (no more than twenty minerals and elements can be designated at any given time);
- Amend existing law to:
- Establish an analytical and forecasting capability for identifying critical mineral demand, supply and other market dynamics relevant to policy formulation to allow informed actions to be taken to avoid supply shortages, mitigate price volatility, and prepare for demand growth and other market shifts;
- Encourage Federal agencies to facilitate the availability, development, and environmentally responsible production of domestic resources to meet national critical material or mineral needs.
Agency efforts should be coordinated to:
- Avoid duplication, prevent unnecessary delays in the administration of applicable laws and issuance of permits and authorizations necessary to explore for, develop and produce critical minerals, and to construct critical mineral manufacturing facilities in accordance with environmental and land management laws;
- Strengthen research and educational efforts
- Foster international cooperation;
- Promote the efficient production, use an recycling of critical minerals; develop alternatives to critical minerals; and establish contingencies for the production of, or access to, critical minerals for which viable sources do not exist within the United States.
ARPN has long considered the need to secure a stable supply of critical minerals and reduce foreign mineral dependencies one of the most pressing issues affecting our economy and national security.
At a time when Washington is mired in partisan gridlock, the fact that lawmakers from both sides of the political aisle realize this need, and are coming together to put forth this legislation is encouraging — especially, when it is lawmakers from the very legislative body where previous iterations of critical minerals bills have died a silent death.