American Resources & JobsNovember 2 2011
Congressman Doug Lamborn (CO-05) today called again for legislation to increase access to domestic minerals that are critical to defense and other technologies. Rare earth and other strategic minerals are found in everyday products like phones, clocks, and televisions and are also essential components of renewable energy technologies, life-saving medical devices, and the equipment used to protect our men and women in our Armed Forces.
The United States currently relies on foreign countries like China for over half of its non-fuel mineral materials and is entirely dependent on foreign sources for rare earth metals. China currently controls 97% of the world’s rare earths supply.
Speaking to members of the National Center for Policy Analysis today, Lamborn promoted legislation that he authored and passed in the House Natural Resources Committee to address the problem.
Below are highlights of his speech:
Reliance on foreign suppliers
It is never wise to depend on someone else for something you can do on your own. In this case, the United States has many of the mineral resources required to meet our defense needs. We just need to have a better inventory of what we have, where they are located, and the ability to access to them.
H.R. 2011 – The National Strategic and Critical Minerals Policy Act of 2011
It’s a common sense solution that will “provide for our common defense,” bring in revenues to our treasury, and provide for private sector job creation.
Abundant Domestic Resources
According to the National Research Council, one of the primary advantages the United States possesses over our strongest industrial competitors is our domestic resource base -- in other words we have a lot of mineral resources that could be developed.
Loss of American Jobs and Competitiveness
Without increased domestic exploration, significant declines in U.S. mineral production are unavoidable as present reserves are exhausted. We will continue to ship American jobs overseas and forfeit our economic competitiveness unless we take steps to develop our own mineral resources.
By not accessing America’s vast mineral supply, we are losing out on high-paying American jobs. The United States mining industry currently supports over 700,000 jobs nationwide and is fundamental to a healthy economy and strong manufacturing sector. There is no doubt that the development of our abundant mineral resources would have an immediate positive impact on both job creation and economic development.
H.R. 2011 -The National Strategic and Critical Minerals Policy Act of 2011
- It requires the Secretary of the Interior to coordinate a government wide inventory of the Nation’s non-fuel mineral resources on federal lands and to identify any restrictions that may inhibit development of non-fuel mineral resources required to meet current and future strategic and critical mineral needs of the Nation.
- It requires the Secretary of the Interior to evaluate factors impacting domestic mineral development, including workforce, access, permitting and duplicative regulatory requirements as well as identify areas for improvement.
- It directs the Interior Department to assemble a report within six months and require them to include a specific inventory of the rare earth element potential on federal lands, and identify impediments or restrictions on the exploration or development of rare earth elements, and provide recommendations to lift the impediments or restrictions while maintaining environmental safeguards.
- It requires an annual report outlining the progress made in reaching the policy goals described in the bill and National Research Council, Department of Energy and Department of Defense reports on aspects of domestic mineral policy.
- It provides guidance to the United States Geological Survey (USGS) on what mineral commodities they should focus on for their planned National Mineral Assessment. The USGS is currently developing models to be used in the National Mineral Assessment scheduled to begin in fiscal year 2013.
- It directs the USGS to expand their Global Mineral Assessment to include rare earth elements and other minerals that are critical based on the impact of a potential supply restriction and the likelihood of a supply restriction.
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