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Senators Introduce Bipartisan Critical Minerals Legislation

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Mark Udall (D-Colo.), Dean Heller (R-Nev.), and 13 of their Senate colleagues today introduced legislation to prevent future supply shocks of critical minerals needed for the defense, energy, electronics, and medical industries.

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

Murkowski: “Minerals affect our daily lives, our standard of living, and our ability to prosper, yet the United States lacks clear policies to ensure an affordable and abundant domestic supply. This is one of our greatest needs, and it’s going unmet. Our bipartisan bill will help solve that problem by providing clear direction to keep the United States competitive and begin the process of modernizing our federal mineral policies. While it took time to develop a bill we could all agree on, we have done just that – and the result will be more opportunities for domestic jobs, technological innovation, increased national security, and greater competitiveness.”

Wyden: “So many parts of our 21st Century economy depend on critical minerals that it just makes sense to bring federal policies up to date. This bill creates a more secure domestic supply chain for critical minerals, and makes sure that our country’s national defense, high-tech jobs, energy security and advanced medical care are not held hostage by foreign suppliers.”

Udall: “Rare earth minerals support high-skill jobs across Colorado while making possible innovative technologies like high definition TVs, military aircraft and advanced wind turbines. Every gram of these rare elements, like lithium and cobalt, is essential to our nation's ability to win the global economic race. This bill will help restore the United States as a global leader in critical mineral production, create jobs in Colorado and across the country, and strengthen our national security.”

Heller: “In Nevada and across the country, we have an abundance of critical and strategic minerals that play a vital role in our daily lives, as well as our nation’s economic success. Unfortunately, the United States still relies almost entirely on foreign countries such as China for many of these materials. Congress can take steps now to reduce our reliance on other countries for the resources we need to power our economy by developing policies to address these critical components. I am proud to join this bipartisan group of senators and look forward to the Senate passing this legislation.”

The Critical Minerals Policy Act would update critical minerals policies for the 21st Century, by coordinating efforts across federal agencies. It also focuses on the broader supply chain for critical minerals. From resource assessments to recycling and alternatives, it takes a comprehensive approach to ensure the development of strong national mineral policies.

According to the National Academy of Sciences, more than 25,000 pounds of new minerals are needed every year for each person in the United States to make the items we use every day for infrastructure, energy, transportation, communications, health care and defense. While America’s foreign oil dependence often receives the most attention, our nation’s growing dependence on foreign minerals also constitutes a significant threat to our security and economy. According to the U.S Geological Survey, the United States was 100 percent dependent on foreign sources for 17 mineral commodities in 2012 and more than 50 percent dependent on foreign sources for some 24 more. 

The full text of the bill can be found on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee website. In addition to the sponsors listed above, Sens. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), Kay Hagan (D-N.C.), John Thune (R-S.D.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Mary Landrieu (D-La.), Dan Coats (R-Ind.), Mark Begich (D-Alaska), Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), and Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) have also signed on as co-sponsors. In total, nine Republicans and eight Democrats are supporting the Critical Minerals Policy Act.

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