Progress on a Key Competive Issue: Rare Earth Supply

By September 30, 2010Energy, General, Trade

By a vote of 325-98, the House passed H.R. 6160, the Rare Earths and Critical Materials Revitalization Act. The National Association of Manufacturers’ “Key Vote” letter in support is here, and passage is excellent news.

The sponsor, Rep. Kathy Dahlkemper (D-PA), issued a news release, “Dahlkemper Plan to End U.S. Dependency on China for Essential Rare Earths Passes House.” That’s a worthy goal probably beyond the ability of the legislation to accomplish. Here’s what the bill does:

Rare Earths and Critical Materials Revitalization Act of 2010 – Establishes in the Department of Energy (DOE) a research, development, and commercial application program to assure the long-term, secure, and sustainable supply of rare earth materials to satisfy the national security, economic well-being, and industrial production needs of the United States.

Directs the Secretary of Energy (Secretary) to: (1) support new or significantly improved processes and technologies (as compared to those currently in use in the rare earth materials industry); (2) encourage multidisciplinary collaborations and opportunities for students at institutions of higher education; (3) collaborate with the relevant directorates of the European Commission to coordinate activities; (4) establish a Research and Development Information Center to catalogue, disseminate, and archive information on rare earth materials; and (5) submit an implementation plan to Congress.

Amends the Energy Policy Act of 2005 to authorize the Secretary to make loan guarantee commitments for the commercial application of new or significantly improved technologies for specified projects.

It would also be helpful if U.S. regulatory policy encouraged the mining of rare earths and other strategic minerals in the United States.

But that’s a longer-term effort. For now, many thanks to Rep. Dahlkemper and others who supported the measure.

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