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Freedom Fridays

June 22, 2018 - Freedom Fridays – Securing America’s Critical Mineral Independence

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What are critical minerals?

Critical minerals are resources such as aluminum, chromium, cobalt, lithium, and titanium that play an integral role in our national security.   They support our armed forces’ defense systems, including plating of nuclear submarines, the internal structure of ballistic missiles, and our warfighters’ equipment.  According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS) the gear of one U.S. Navy SEAL contains at least 23 nonfuel mineral commodities, for which the United States relies on its imports.

 

How do critical minerals affect our national security?

While the Western United States has a wealth of deposits of these minerals, the Unites States also relies heavily on foreign suppliers.  The U.S. has difficult diplomatic relationships with some foreign suppliers, like China or Russia.  This reliance on uncertain trading partners place our nation’s defense and national security at risk. U.S. imports of critical minerals have doubled over the last two decades, further increasing our dependence on other nations.  As China and Russia flex their economic and military power, it is irresponsible for the U.S. to continue to be import-reliant for these critical minerals.

 

What is President Trump doing about it?

President Trump and his Administration have taken active steps to break America’s dependence on foreign minerals. In a recent executive order, President Trump released his strategy to identify and prioritize supply chains of vital natural resources. Acting on the order, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke announced 35 minerals considered to be critical to the U.S. economy and national security. Lastly, the President’s fiscal year 2019 budget request includes funding to address our foreign dependence on critical minerals.

 

What am I doing about it?

In March, I lead a letter to the House Appropriations Committee echoing the President’s request for critical minerals funding at the USGS.  This funding will produce data for our domestic defense, trade, economic, and national security strategies, and provide guidance to curtail our reliance on foreign-sourced minerals.

In April, I led a letter with my Arizona colleague Representative Paul Gosar urging Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Secretary Zinke to add copper and various other resources to the critical minerals list.  Arizona has large deposits of copper that have the potential to create jobs and supplement our critical minerals strategy.

Most recently, I cosponsored Representative Mark Amodei’s amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019.  This amendment streamlines the permitting process for critical minerals in the U.S. by delegating review of all projects to one federal agency and establishing permitting timelines for mineral exploration.  It is imperative we continue to secure our national interests by reinforcing America’s natural resource independence.

 

What are they saying?

“The Trump Administration is on the right track to recognize the importance of critical minerals in the American Economy. However, the time is ripe to complete the task and end our foreign dependence when we are ready to responsibly mine here at home. $9.2 Billion and 16,500 jobs are waiting to be unleashed benefiting rural economies.” – American Exploration & Mining Association.