Why Democrats Must Support American Mining

Why Democrats Must Support American Mining
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Recently, my organization Power The Future released an important study documenting China’s virtual monopoly of rare earth elements (REE). These elements are used in products that range from everyday appliances to military tools and weapons, but, they are also essential for creating solar panels, electric cars, and other green tech that the eco-left insists we must use to stop climate change. Our study illustrates an inconvenient truth environmentalist would like to ignore: going green is a boon to China and a detriment to our national security.  

Despite acknowledging China’s monopoly over rare earths as an issue, the eco-left refuses to increase domestic mining for these critical resources. PTF’s study focuses on the dangers of continued inaction and outlines the threat that this dependence poses to America’s economy and national security. Thankfully, Senate Republicans are taking action to eliminate these threats.

This past week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) introduced the most recent coronavirus relief bill. The Covid-19 pandemic exposed China’s control over the world supply chain. This was most immediately apparent regarding medical equipment as the world responded to the initial outbreak. But, it quickly became clear that our reliance spread far beyond medical supplies, including REEs. Fortunately, Leader McConnell’s legislation addresses this issue by promoting secure and robust domestic supply chains.

Encouraging domestic supply chains is essential to the future of U.S. manufacturing and competitiveness. Specifically, the legislation being included in McConnell’s larger bill to do this is the American Mineral Security Act. This legislation would identify critical minerals; cut down on unnecessary permitting delays to produce domestic deposits; promote workforce development; invest in research and development to increase the production of alternatives; and more.

Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), the sponsor of the American Mineral Security Act, said, “The COVID-19 pandemic has brought renewed attention to the fact that our nation is heavily dependent on imports for a wide array of goods and technologies that are essential to our health, economy, and security. We need to reverse our damaging dependence on China and other nations and rebuild domestic supply chains for everything from personal protective equipment to clean energy technologies.” This renewed attention is important, and Sen. Murkowski should be applauded. This week’s legislation is a great first step, but we must follow through and execute right now.

Following an Executive Order by President Trump in 2018, the Interior Department released a list of 35 minerals the administration considers to be “critical.” The U.S. is fully dependent on imports for 14 of those 35 critical rare earth materials, and imports 75% of its supplies of at least 10 of the listed critical materials. Also, as the most recent PTF study pointed out, China controls 95% of the entire world’s REEs. Covid-19’s economic fallout made clear that this level of dependence is unacceptable, and China has made clear that they are willing to exploit this weakness.

As I wrote in a piece last week, China has already made their intentions clear. Regarding our ongoing trade war, China’s rare earth producers said that the industry “resolutely supports the nation’s counter measures against US import tariffs on Chinese products.” The U.S. can no longer allow their leverage to grow, which means that we have to encourage development here at home. Still, despite the blatant risks to our economy and national security, the eco-left insists on “going green.”

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden (D-DE) released his new climate plan which portends attempts to eliminate carbon emissions in the U.S. by 2035, put Americans into electric vehicles and zero-emissions mass transit, and rebuild the country’s infrastructure. To put it simply, it would mean spending $4 trillion over four years on eco-left policies that require massive amounts of REEs, effectively transferring trillions of dollars of wealth into China and even further increasing our dependence on them.

If the environmental left insists we “go green” will they at least insure that we do it without putting America under the thumb of China? America needs to be fighting for independence from our communist adversary, not allowing them more leverage. This past week’s legislation out of the Senate is a practical, positive step toward strengthening America’s domestic supply chain and, therefore, our economy and national security. Biden and the eco-left are eager to implement energy policies to save the world, but they would only allow China to control even more of it. When China controls our wind, solar, batteries, EVs, and all green technology by maintaining its monopoly on rare earths, “climate change” will be the least of our problems.


Daniel Turner is the founder and executive director of Power The Future, a national nonprofit organization that advocates for American energy jobs. Contact him at daniel@powerthefuture.com and follow him on Twitter @DanielTurnerPTF

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