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Sen. Murkowski Comments on WTO Rare Earths Ruling

Ranking Member Applauds Decision but Points to Larger Need

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) released the following comment after the World Trade Organization ruled that China has unfairly restricted its export of rare earth elements:

“While I am happy to see this ruling come out in our favor, it by no means resolves the fact that we are almost entirely dependent on a foreign nation for our supply of rare earth elements,” Murkowski said. “We can file trade complaint after trade complaint, but there is no substitute for the steps that we know we must take to reconstitute our own domestic supply chain. To truly protect our security and promote our competitiveness, we must begin producing more of the minerals we have here at home, including rare earth elements. And we can take a first step toward that crucial goal by passing the bipartisan minerals legislation that I have introduced with Sen. Wyden and 17 other senators.”

One recent example of the pressing need for a stable, secure, and domestic supply of minerals are reports that a number of highly sophisticated American weapons systems rely on Chinese raw materials (see here and here) – forcing waivers to laws that would otherwise ban such procurement.

The Critical Minerals Policy Act of 2013, introduced by Murkowski in October, would revitalize the United States’ critical minerals supply chain and reduce the nation’s dependence on foreign suppliers. The bill directs the Secretary of the Interior to establish a list of minerals critical to the U.S. economy and provides a comprehensive set of policies to address issues associated with their discovery, production, use, and re-use.

The bill already has the support of 19 total sponsors in the Senate, and received favorable comment from mining, manufacturing, academic, state, and federal witnesses at a January 2014 hearing held by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Murkowski is the committee’s lead Republican.

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