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Panel Discussion: Stakeholders from Across the Political Aisle Agree Time to Secure Critical Mineral Supply Chains is Now

At last week’s RealClearPolitics panel discussion sponsored by the National Mining Association, speakers discussed the extent of our nation’s critical mineral resource supply chain challenges.

During the first panel, U.S. Reps. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.), and Guy Reschenthaler (R-Penn.), who recently launched the bi-partisan Critical Materials Caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives, made the case for solving “this problem here in America.”

While Rep. Swalwell underscored the role reclamation and leveraging our national research laboratories can play, Rep. Reschenthaler pointed to domestic mining and argued that “it is much better for the environment as a whole if we mine these [critical] elements here.” Both congressmen said they appreciated President Trump’s most recent executive order on critical minerals, but maintained that “more needs to be done to reduce permitting times for mining in the U.S. and expand U.S. production power.”

Rep. Swalwell pointed to the need of congressional codification of the administration’s efforts to “make this a priority that lasts beyond any administration.”

Issue experts Morgan Bazilian, Director of the Payne Institute, Professor of Public Policy, Colorado School of Mines; Joe Bryan, Senior Fellow, Atlantic Council Global Energy Center; and Jane Nakano, Senior Fellow, Center for Strategic and International Studies, took the virtual stage after the congressmen, and echoed the sentiment that much more remained to be done.

They also underscored the opportunity for the mining industry, which can play an important role underpinning the transition to a low-carbon future, which, as Mr. Bazilian stressed, will be resource-intensive. Ms. Nakano highlighted the challenges associated with the United States’ current permitting framework, arguing that while “[t]he U.S. is known for its abundant natural resources, including minerals and metals (…) [i]t is also known for its lengthy permitting process.”

Stressing geopolitical, economic and national security implications, panelists went on to discuss efforts currently underway and possible future ways to address our critical mineral resource supply chain challenges.

Bearing further testimony of the urgency of the situation, the U.S. House Republicans’ China Task Force, issued a new report earlier last week calling on Congress to take action to strengthen U.S. domestic critical minerals production as a means to combat China’s growing global influence.

You can rewatch the complete panel discussion here.

With the stakes ever-increasing, it is encouraging to see that even weeks before a highly politically charged election, policy makers from across the political spectrum can find agreement on the need to prioritize our nation’s critical material woes. As ARPN’s Daniel McGroarty has frequently pointed out“we have spent enough time admiring the problem.” The coming weeks will show if stakeholders will come together for 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.”