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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.