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American Resources Policy Network
Promoting the development of American mineral resources.
  • U.S. Senate To Take Up Comprehensive Bipartisan Legislation Containing Critical Minerals Provisions As Early As This Week

    The U.S. Senate may cast a vote on a comprehensive bipartisan energy legislation package that contains provisions pertaining to critical mineral resource supply issues as early as this week.  

    S. 2657 is the legislative vehicle for the American Energy Innovation Act (AEIA), a package consisting of several pieces of legislation, which reflect the “priorities of more than sixty members” and have “undergone extensive regular order process.”

    Key provisions of the bill package focus “on energy efficiency; renewable energy; energy storage; carbon capture, utilization, and storage; advanced nuclear; industrial and vehicle technologies; the Department of Energy; mineral security; cyber and grid security and modernization; and workforce development.”

    Of particular interest to followers of ARPN is Title II of the AEIA — which is focused on “Supply Chain Security.”  Title II contains provisions to streamline the federal permitting system for mining projects, calling for research and development on recycling and developing alternatives to critical minerals, the development of analytical and forecasting tools to evaluate critical minerals markets, and the strengthening of the critical minerals workforce. With regards to Rare Earths specifically, Title II calls for the enactment of a program to “develop advanced separation technologies for the extraction and recovery of rare earth elements (REEs) and minerals from coal and coal byproducts,” and respective reporting to Congress.

    Speaking on the floor after the Senate voted to invoke cloture on the motion to proceed to S. 2657,  U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources (ENR), who has long championed critical minerals legislation in the U.S. Senate said:

    “It has now been more than 12 years since Congress enacted comprehensive legislation to update our nation’s energy laws. During that time the shale revolution has turned America into an energy superpower. The costs of renewable resources have come down dramatically. New technologies are emerging, but our policies have not kept pace. We are missing out on opportunities to further our energy leadership, and we are failing to adequately address some very significant challenges.” 

    The bill package is perhaps more timely than ever, as the recent outbreak and ongoing spread of the coronavirus — aside from being a massive public health crisis with pandemic potential — is revealing significant supply chain vulnerabilities stemming from an over-reliance on foreign supplies of mineral resources. 

    With a Senate vote on the American Energy Innovation Act expected as early as this week, here’s hoping that members understand the urgency of the situation. 

    For information on the bill package, check the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources website here.

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  • Moving Beyond the Report Stage? – Specter of REE Supply Disruptions Prompts Congressional Action on Critical Minerals

    The U.S. and China have resumed trade talks after last month’s meeting between U.S. President Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Osaka broke a deadlock — but key issues remain far from settled.

    Against the backdrop of both sides preparing for a protracted battle, Jeff Green, president of Washington, D.C.-based government relations firm J.A. Green & Company and member of the ARPN panel of issue experts, zeroes in on the potential ramifications of a looming REE supply cutoff on the U.S. defense industry and appropriate responses in a new piece for Defense News.

    Green laments that supply chain experts for years warned about the “potential for China to cut off access to the critical materials in almost every major weapon system”– but their concerns were often “downplayed by free-trade theorists and policy makers who claimed that China would not take such aggressive action to upset the market.” Green argues that recent statements made by China’s state economic planner, the National Development and Reform Commission, or NDRC, suggest otherwise, and says that “the Chinese strategy is based on a harsh calculus:”

    “Depriving only defense contractors of rare earth supplies will drive costs and production lead times up for the U.S. military and cause concern within the U.S. government, but it will not lead to widespread public discontent. Any student of Clausewitz can see the targeting of a particular center of gravity in the U.S. with this move. The strategy threatens U.S. military supplies rather than cheap consumer goods in what may be an attempt by China to force U.S. policymakers to abandon efforts to counter abusive Chinese trade practices in favor of addressing greater national security concerns.”

    Thankfully, Green says, the U.S. is taking steps to secure supplies of rare earths and other critical materials. He specifically highlights the long-awaited Critical Minerals Strategy put forth by the Commerce Department in early June which  “begins operationalizing the identification and mitigation of supply chain gaps” and a passage in the FY 2019 National Defense Authorization Act which limits “the ability of defense contractors to use rare earth magnets from China (and other non-allied countries).”  

    This, coupled with DoD beginning to query American contractors about their “ability to begin rebuilding pieces of the supply chain, including rare earth separation and magnet production” are “prudent and necessary,” says Green, who concludes:

    “[T]here is more to be done, particularly in Congress, to defend against hostile foreign actions. Mine-permitting reform would help get U.S. supplies of critical minerals flowing again, and Alaska’s Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s American Mineral Security Act and Nevada’s Republican Rep. Mark Amodei’s mine-permitting reform bill both provide strong momentum forward on that effort.

    Pentagon programs such as the Defense Production Act Title III — which was responsible for the inquiries into rare earth separation and magnet production — and the Industrial Base Analysis and Sustainment are both good avenues through which the government can directly invest in promising American manufacturers. Congress now must provide them with adequate funding (…).

    The U.S. needs to seriously address its critical materials vulnerabilities, which it has begun to do with recent reports. But reports can only show the way forward; it is now time for Congress to enact prudent policies and to provide the resources to finally blunt the rare earth and critical materials trade weapon once and for all.”

    It appears, though, as if policy makers are finally realizing the urgency of the situation.  Today’s Wall Street Journal features a new bill by Sen. Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) which would “allow investors to form a cooperative that is exempt from antitrust laws, in an attempt to shield it from government-backed competition from China and volatile markets that have made it virtually nonexistent in the U.S. The Secretary of Commerce would secure a charter for the business, though it would need to be privately funded and operated under the terms of the legislation.”

    In a statement, Rubio explained that:

    “[c]ontinued U.S. dependence on China for the mining and processing of rare earths and the manufacture of those metals into useful products is untenable,” because “[i]t threatens our national security, limits our economic productivity, and robs working-class Americans of future opportunities for dignified work.”

    The cooperative would be “a monopoly open to investment from the Defense Department, the military’s private suppliers and technology companies, among others,” with international investors allowed to join contingent on approval from the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S., known as Cfius, reports the Wall Street Journal — a contingency that is likely owed to the much-criticized fact that the only current U.S. REE producer has a Chinese minority stakeholder.

    With the stakes so high, it is good to see that policy makers appear willing to move beyond the report stage.

    We’ll be keeping tabs on critical minerals legislation, including Sen. Rubio’s REE legislation and others as they move forward, so check back for updates. 
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  • Mamula and Bridges: Hardrock “Modernization” Bills Could Do More Harm Than Good

    “Does America stand for self-reliance and innovative discovery of critical minerals for our economy and national defense and security? Or will Congress drive the fatal stake through the heart of our struggling domestic metals mining industry?” According to a new Washington Examiner piece by Cato Institute Adjunct Scholar in Geosciences and ARPN expert panel member [...]
  • ARPN Expert Panel Member in The Hill: U.S. Must Stop Shunning the Importance of Its Mineral Wealth

    In a new piece for The Hill, ARPN expert panel member and author of the recently-released “Groundbreaking! America’s New Quest for Mineral Independence” Ned Mamula laments the United States’ long-standing ignorance and even shunning of “the importance of its mineral wealth.”  In spite of the fact that, as he says, mining is “the one economic sector that meets the [...]
  • Trade Tensions Underscore Need for Mineral Resource Policy Reform

    While 2018 brought the inter-relationship between trade and resource policy to the forefront, this trend is continuing in 2019.   Last week, the White House announced sanctions on Iranian metals, which represent the Tehran regime’s biggest source of export revenue aside from petroleum.  The sanctions on Iran’s iron, steel, aluminum and copper sectors represent the [...]
  • Lawmakers Introduce New Legislation Aimed at Changing United States’ “Bystander” Status in Race for Critical Minerals

    As pressures mount for the United States to bolster its position as a non-fuel mineral raw materials producer amidst the ongoing battery tech revolution, a group of U.S. Senators have introduced legislation to boost domestic production of critical minerals. The legislation, sponsored by Sens. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, Joe Manchin, D-W. Va., Martha McSally, R-Ariz., and [...]
  • U.S. Senators Introduce Legislation in Push to Re-Establish U.S. Domestic REE Supply Chain

    Bearing testimony to a nascent – and long-overdue – broader awareness of our nation’s over-reliance on foreign mineral resources, three U.S. senators have introduced new legislation aimed to reduce U.S. dependence on Chinese imports of rare earth elements (REEs). REEs are key components of a wide range of high-tech products across all walks of life [...]
  • ARPN Expert: Partisan Politics Aside, New Congress Holds Opportunity to Strengthen Defense Industrial Base

    In a new piece for Defense News, Jeff Green, president of Washington, D.C.-based government relations firm J.A. Green & Company, and member of the ARPN panel of experts, calls on lawmakers on Capitol Hill to work towards overcoming partisan divides and “find common ground to support the defense-industrial base.” One of the first analysts to [...]
  • Full Senate Committee to Examine DOI Critical Minerals List and U.S. Mineral Resource Dependence

    Bearing testimony to the growing importance assigned to the issue of critical minerals, the full U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources will hold a hearing to “examine the Department of the Interior’s final list of critical minerals for 2018 and opportunities to strengthen the United States’ mineral security” on Tuesday, July 17, 2018, [...]
  • America’s Critical Mineral Issues are Largely Home-Grown

    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 [...]

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