Ensuring Access to Rare Earths

By September 27, 2010Energy, General, Technology, Trade

On the House’s suspension calendar this week is H.R.6160, the Rare Earths and Critical Materials Revitalization Act. The National Association of Manufacturers sent a letter to the House Science and Technology Committee last week supporting the legislation. From the letter:

Rare earth minerals are commonly used in many applications including renewable energy products, nuclear batteries, catalysts for petroleum refining, defense applications, and consumer electronics. Without access to these minerals, U.S. manufacturing in these sectors will face an uncertain future.

The legislation would authorize $70 million to establish the Rare Earth Minerals Program within the Department of Energy that would conduct the research and development needed to ensure U.S. manufacturers have adequate access to these critical resources. Such funding is needed given China’s recent announcement that it would cut its export of rare earth elements 40 percent by 2012. Manufacturers remain concerned that China will continue to make further reductions in exports. A number of experts are predicting that, at the current rate of growth, China may consume 100 percent of the rare earths that it produces in 2012. We cannot afford to put more good-paying manufacturing jobs in jeopardy due to a shortage of these critical materials.

Meanwhile, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Subcommittee on Energy, will hold a hearing Thursday on strategic minerals and “clean energy’ technologies, including S. 3521, to create task forces, studies and reports.

Lots in the news on the issue.

Leave a Reply