Against the backdrop of ever-increasing pressures on critical mineral supply chains, we are seeing a flurry of activity on the part of government stakeholders to shore up supply of the metals and minerals underpinning 21st Century.
While it is certainly encouraging that these developments are not only underway but are also increasingly making headlines and garnering the attention of the American people, it is important to ensure that legislative efforts to strengthen our nation’s critical mineral supply chains are not only enacted, but actually implemented, and that timelines set forth in enacted legislation are in fact met.
Unfortunately, new laws are not always effectively implemented. Case in point: that’s the charge made in recent correspondence by U.S. Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV), Chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), a senior member of the committee, in a series of joint letters to key members of the Biden Administration.
In letters to U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland, and U.S. Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines, Sens. Manchin and Murkowski lamented the delayed implementation of a set of provisions included in the Energy Act of 2020 and the bipartisan infrastructure package passed last year, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.
Citing several lapsed deadlines set forth in both legislative packages and highlighting U.S. vulnerabilities “due to the lack of domestic production and processing of critical minerals, including rare earth elements,” the Senators called on the Administration to prioritize
the “substantial new authorities and federal assistance to boost domestic mineral supplies” mandated via the Energy Act of 2020, and the bipartisan infrastructure package, and to “ensure crucial deadlines are met.”
“While we appreciate the President’s focus on this issue, including the recent invocation of the Defense Production Act, a whole-of-government approach is required to meet this challenge. Timely implementation of the provisions of the Energy Act are crucial to ensuring that America’s critical mineral supply chains are strong, responsibly produced, and ethically sourced.”
Meanwhile, momentum appears to be building to strengthen the U.S. strategic minerals stockpile. The Department of Defense has submitted a legislative proposal to request authorization of $253.5 million to procure critical minerals in the FY 2023 defense authorization bill, while the House Armed Services Committee is reportedly seeking to bolster the United States’ supplies of specifically Rare Earths as part of the National Defense in the same bill.
As the geopolitical stakes continue to get higher in light of Russia’s ongoing war on Ukraine and China’s Xi Jinping doubling-down on its zero-Covid policy earlier this month which may lead to more lockdowns with serious economic disruption and trade consequences, here’s hoping that U.S. stakeholders are ready to not only talk the talk, but also walk the walk.
Click here to read the Senators’ letter to U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin.
Click here to read the Senators’ letter to U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm.
Click here to read the Senators’ letter to U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland.
Click here to read the Senators’ letter to U.S. Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines.