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American Resources Policy Network
Promoting the development of American mineral resources.
  • resource dependence

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  • A “Dangerous Dependence:”  Mineral Resource Security Goes Mainstream

    In recent weeks, we have seen a flurry of articles and commentaries in national publications discussing reforms to address our ever-growing reliance on foreign mineral resources.  The two most recent examples are member of the ARPN expert panel Jeffery A. Green’s piece in Real Clear Defense entitled “Dangerous Dependence on China for Critical Minerals Runs Deep,” and a piece in The Hill by American Enterprise Institute scholar Mark J. Perry scholar entitled “To reduce China’s leverage, rebuild America’s minerals supply chain.”

    Both pieces draw attention to China’s mineral resource dominance and point to current efforts to curb China’s leverage.

    Writes Perry:

    “Imagine a scenario where the U.S. is entirely dependent on a single nation for oil. You can’t. It’s inconceivable. We would never let one nation — much less a sometimes adversarial rival — dominate our supply of a critical resource. Or would we?

    Astoundingly, we have. We are completely import-dependent for 21 mineral commodities, and imports account for more than half of our consumption for 50 critical minerals. Who’s our largest supplier? China.”

    Citing USGS numbers highlighting our dependence on materials sourced from China, Green agrees:

    “We have gifted China robust trade leverage should they chose to use it. In 2010, during a geopolitical spat over disputed waters, China cut its exports of rare earth elements to Japan. China could easily cripple American supply chains and significantly limit our ability to produce advanced radar and weapon systems by limiting or disrupting the supply of any one of these minerals. Allowing a non-allied foreign nation to control such a broad swathe of critical minerals is a significant security threat to the U.S. and its warfighters.”

    The growing awareness of these issues in the mainstream media thanks to experts like Green and others spreading the word is a welcome development. However, whether we succeed in reducing Chinese leverage over our domestic industrial production and national security will depend in large part on how policy makers respond.

    Both authors cite recent legislative language pending in Congress that would go far in streamlining our outdated and duplicative permitting framework for mining projects that has so far hampered responsible domestic resource development.

    But while the U.S. House of Representatives has passed said provisions, the U.S. Senate has already failed to include them in its version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), once more underscoring that while awareness is growing, meaningful change will still face an uphill battle.

    In Perry’s words:

    “The opportunity to put a halt to our deepening reliance on imports for dozens of critically important minerals is within reach. Let’s ensure we have the robust domestic supply chain to guarantee our military has the supply of materials it needs when it needs them.”

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  • Happy Birthday, America – Onward to Resource Independence Day?

    It’s that time of the year again – we load up our shopping carts with fireworks and burger buns, and gear up for parades to honor of the men and women who have fought, and continue our safeguard our freedom today. Many of us will have already traveled this week – and according to AAA, a record-breaking 46.9 million Americans are expected to travel 50 miles or more away from home this Independence Day holiday.

    Holiday travel, as much fun as it can be, is often fraught with a certain level frustration, some of which may be owed to our crumbling infrastructure. Bridges, roads and highways have become the poster child – but they’re only the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

    As ARPN’s Dan McGroarty wrote last year:

    “[t]oday, our infrastructure extends to the national power grid — currently a patchwork of lines, nodes and often antique switching towers we rely on to move energy to where we need it — to the internet itself, which has a physicality we easily overlook in this Age of the Cloud and Wireless. These systems, marvels that they are, come closer to tin-can-and-string contraptions than the modern version we would build if we began the work today.”

    Threats against our infrastructure, as we pointed out previously, are as diverse as they are real, and dealing with them requires a comprehensive approach.

    “Securing access to Copper, Graphite, Cobalt, Manganese, and Rhenium may not be the first things that come to mind when we think critical infrastructure protection – but they, and many other tech metals and minerals, have to be on our shopping list if we’re serious about a 21st Century infrastructure that is competitive and can withstand threats from the outside and within.”

    All of which brings us back to our Independence Day theme. Over the past few years, we have used the occasion of Independence Day to remind ourselves that “while we cherish the freedom we are blessed with in so many ways, we must not become complacent, as there are areas where we’re increasingly becoming less independent” – with our reliance on foreign mineral resources being a case in point.

    We point now as in years past to a troubling trend, as for decades, our reliance on foreign non-fuel minerals has significantly increased both in terms of number and type, as well as percentage of import reliance.

    Thankfully, this year’s narrative may be changing, as a comprehensive effort to reduce our often unnecessary and largely homemade mineral import dependence is underway. The recently-released Department of Interior list of 35 metals and minerals deemed critical for our national security is a good starting point,as is the attachment of the Amodei critical minerals bill as an amendment to the 2018/2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Unfortunately, the U.S. Senate has since passed NDAA language which excludes the Amodei amendment.

    As the latest Senate developments show, much will depend on how policy makers and stakeholders follow through on their commitments. Paying mere lip service to previously stated lofty goals will not suffice. We can neither maintain our modern economy nor rebuild our infrastructure without a steady supply of metals and minerals. There are several reasons why we will likely never achieve full resource independence – but that does not mean we shouldn’t strive towards reducing policy barriers to the responsible harnessing of our domestic resources.

    As Dan McGroarty put it several years ago:

    “Those we do not possess here at home, we must source from other countries. But those we possess but choose not to produce perpetuate a needless foreign dependence – leverage that other nations may well use to America’s disadvantage.”

    On the eve of this year’s Independence Day, the momentum for meaningful policy reform is finally here — and too much is at stake to let it slip.

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  • Critical Mineral List Finalized – Now Comes the Hard Part

    “Identifying which minerals are ‘critical’ is the easy part. Working out what to do about them is going to be much harder.”  – That’s the conclusion Reuters columnist Andy Home draws in his recent piece on the current Administration’s efforts to develop a strategy to reduce import reliance for metals considered “critical to the economic and [...]
  • The Daily Caller: DOI Critical Minerals List Highlights United States’ Over-Reliance on Foreign Mineral Resources

    Heavily quoting from ARPN’s statement on the issue, The Daily Caller’s Michael Bastasch earlier this month reported on the Department of the Interior’s finalized list of minerals deemed critical for U.S. national security. Writes Bastasch: “President Donald Trump’s administration’s release of a list of 35 critical minerals highlights just how reliant the U.S. is on [...]
  • ARPN’s Daniel McGroarty Comments on DOI’s Release of Final Critical Minerals List

    The Department of the Interior released its final list of Critical Minerals today. The following is ARPN principal Daniel McGroarty’s statement on the list: “DOI issued its final list of Critical Minerals, unchanged at 35.  What we see is the degree of US dependency – the US is 100% import-dependent for 14 of the 35 [...]
  • Congressional Western Caucus Members Call for Expansion of Critical Minerals List

    Earlier this month, members of the Congressional Western Caucus sent a letter to Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, and Acting Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) Mary Neumayr calling for the inclusion of additional metals and minerals into the draft critical minerals list released by Secretary Zinke [...]
  • Mamula & Moore on Mineral Resource Policy: Time for a Change in Strategy and Philosophy

    “Why is the United States reliant on China and Russia for strategic minerals when we have more of these valuable resources than both these nations combined?” Stephen Moore, senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation and an economic consultant with Freedom Works, and ARPN expert panel member Ned Mamula, a geoscientist and adjunct scholar at the [...]
  • An Early Christmas Present? New Executive Order Calls for National Strategy to Increase Domestic Resource Development

    Only one day after USGS released its new report “Critical Minerals of the United States” – a study which underscores the United States’ over-reliance on foreign minerals – a new executive order directs Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to publish within 60 days a list of critical minerals to be followed by a report (after another [...]
  • Panelists at U.S. House Hearing Stress Dangers of America’s Growing Resource Dependence

    During yesterday’s oversight hearing on the subject of “Examining Consequences of America’s Growing Dependence on Foreign Minerals,” before the House Natural Resources Committee, panelists raised some of the key issues we have consistently highlighted on our blog. Panelists included: Mr. Ronnie Favors, Administrator, U.S. Defense Logistics Agency, Strategic Materials, U.S. Department of Defense Dr. Murray [...]
  • House Committee to Hold Hearing on Growing Resource Dependence on Tuesday

    On Tuesday of this week, the U.S. House Committee on Mineral Resources will be holding an oversight hearing on “Examining Consequences of America’s Growing Dependence on Foreign Minerals.” Witnesses at the hearing, which will begin at 2pm EST, include: Mr. Ronnie Favors, Administrator, U.S. Defense Logistics Agency, Strategic Materials, U.S. Department of Defense Dr. Murray [...]

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