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Legislature Passes Resolution Urging Increased Production of Rare Earth Elements in Alaska

JUNEAU-Today, the Alaska State Legislature passed a resolution aimed at boosting the exploration and production of Rare Earth Elements (REE) in Alaska.  Senate Joint Resolution 8 calls on Congress to support the efforts of Alaska to develop REEs for the benefit of the economic and national security of the United States.

“The United States used to be almost self-sufficient in rare earth elements, but now we almost completely rely upon foreign sources for those important elements,” said Senator McGuire.  “We need to move now to become a dominant world player in the development of rare earth elements which are critical for military and economic security, as well as renewable energy systems.”

China currently produces 95-percent of the world’s rare earth elements, but reduced the exports of those elements by 54-percent between 2005 to 2010, and then another by nearly 50-percent in from 2010 to 2011.

“It poses a huge risk to our national and energy security to be forced to rely on other foreign nations to manufacture our high-tech military equipment as well as our wind turbines, solar panels, advanced batteries, and geothermal steam turbines,” said Senator McGuire.  “That’s why as a nation, we need to start developing and producing the rare earth elements that we have in our own backyard.”

The elements are also needed for manufacturing almost all high-tech consumer goods including flat screen TVs, computers, tablets and cell phones.

“As China continues to withdraw its supply of rare earth elements from the world market, we need to be ready to fill those supplies or we will see devastating economic consequences,” said Senator McGuire.  “On the flip side, building rare earth element research and production facilities here in the 49th state will create new job and career opportunities for Alaskans.”

The resolution also calls for the federal government, including the United States Geological Survey, to work with the State to identify REE deposits in the state, develop an REE information database, and promote the development of Alaska’s REE industry.  Additionally, the resolution calls on agencies that deal with permitting to expedite consideration and issuance of REE permits.

“So far, we have identified at least 70 sites in Alaska that contain rare earth elements.  Several experts have said it is likely that Alaska has one of the most significant rare-earth prospects in North America,” said Senator McGuire.  “If we play our cards right, this could secure our future as the lead supplier of America’s rare earth mineral needs.”

SJR8 now heads to Governor Parnell for his signature. 

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