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New Critical Minerals Executive Order Declares National Emergency, Invokes Defense Production Act

In perhaps the strongest acknowledgment of the urgency of our critical mineral resource woes and over-reliance on foreign (and especially Chinese) supplies to date, U.S. President Donald Trump this week triggered rarely-used emergency government powers to address the issue.

On his way to a campaign rally in Minnesota, the president on Wednesday signed an Executive Order declaring a national emergency on critical minerals, determining that

“our Nation’s undue reliance on critical minerals, in processed or unprocessed form, from foreign adversaries constitutes an unusual and extraordinary threat, which has its source in substantial part outside the United States, to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States.”

Among other provisions, the executive order calls for the Department of the Interior to invoke the Defense Production Act to expand and strengthen domestic mining and processing capacity in an effort to “guard against the possibility of supply chain disruptions and future attempts by our adversaries or strategic competitors to harm our economy and military readiness.”

Agencies are directed to “prioritize the expansion and protection of the domestic supply chain for minerals and the establishment of secure critical minerals supply chains,” and to direct agency resources accordingly, to ensure that these “do not depend on resources or processing from foreign adversaries.”

ARPN Principal Daniel McGroarty, who has long advocated the application of an all-of-the-above approach we’ve come to know from the energy policy discourse – in the context of working toward resource independence – called the executive order welcome, if also long overdue.

He said:

“Last July [2019], we saw the President use the Defense Production Act to designate the rare earths as essential to the national economy and national security. In this new Executive Order [EO], the extension of the U.S. Government’s ‘national emergency’ authority across not only the rare earths but the full range of critical minerals is a dramatic step, and clear recognition of the breadth and depth of the dangerous dependencies we focus on at ARPN.

As I’ve said before, we’ve spent enough time admiring this problem. The question now will be whether this EO triggers an immediate and active response on the part of the U.S. Government – one that will encourage American ingenuity, innovation and investment to bring new sources of supply into production.”

To read the full text of the order, click here.

The White House will be holding a stakeholder call later this afternoon to provide more information, so expect more coverage on our blog over the next few days.