Murkowski, Manchin, Colleagues Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Strengthen America’s Mineral Security

May 3, 2019

U.S. Sens. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., Martha McSally, R-Ariz., and Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, yesterday introduced bipartisan legislation that takes a comprehensive approach to begin reducing the United States’ dependence on foreign minerals. Murkowski made the announcement about S. 1317, the American Mineral Security Act, yesterday morning while delivering remarks at the Benchmark Minerals Summit.

“Our nation’s mineral security is a significant, urgent, and often ignored challenge. Our reliance on China and other nations for critical minerals costs us jobs, weakens our economic competitiveness, and leaves us at a geopolitical disadvantage,” Murkowski said. “I greatly appreciate the administration’s actions to address this issue, but Congress needs to complement them with legislation. Our bill takes steps that are long overdue to reverse our damaging foreign dependence and position ourselves to compete in growth industries like electric vehicles and energy storage.”

“I am grateful to continue working with Chairman Murkowski to find ways to reduce our reliance on foreign countries for critical minerals in a responsible way. Our legislation requires common sense steps to begin restoring American independence regarding critical minerals and strengthen our national security, diversify our economy and create job opportunities in our communities,” Manchin said. 

“Mining and mineral production is central to Arizona’s economy and identity. The bipartisan American Mineral Security Act will modernize our nation’s approach to critical mineral procurement to boost U.S. production, create jobs, and improve our national security – all while maintaining strong environmental protections,” McSally said.

Key provisions of the American Mineral Security Act would:

  • Codify the methodology used in Executive Order 13817 to designate a list of critical minerals and require that list to be updated at least every three years;
  • Require nationwide resource assessments for every critical mineral;
  • Implement several practical, common sense permitting reforms for the Department of the Interior (DOI) and Department of Agriculture Forest Service to reduce delays in the federal process;
  • Reauthorize the National Geological and Geophysical Data Preservation Program for 10 years;
  • Authorize research and development for recycling and replacements for critical minerals, as well as chemistry, material science, and applied research and development for processing of critical minerals;
  • Require coordination and study of energy needs for remote mining deposits with microgrid research and small generation research programs across the Department of Energy’s applied offices; and
  • Require the Secretary of Labor, the National Academy of Sciences, and the National Science Foundation to conduct a study of the nation’s minerals workforce.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the U.S. imported at least 50 percent of 48 minerals, including 100 percent of 18 of them, in 2018. That includes 100 percent of our supply of rare earth elements, graphite, and indium.  

Murkowski has introduced similar standalone legislation in previous Congresses, and included a section on critical minerals in her broad, bipartisan energy bill in the 114th and 115th Congresses. The Committee on Energy and Natural Resources has held several hearings on our nation’s mineral security, including one held early in the 116th Congress.

Click here for the bill text.

Murkowski is chairman of the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, and Manchin is the committee’s ranking member.