Murkowski: We Must Improve America’s Mineral Security

May 14, 2019

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today chaired a hearing of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee to examine opportunities to strengthen our nation’s mineral security. As part of the hearing, the committee also received testimony on S. 1052, the Rare Earth Element Advanced Coal Technologies Act, and S. 1317, the American Mineral Security Act.

Murkowski opened the hearing by underscoring the importance of minerals, describing them as the “foundation of our modern society.” She contrasted that with America’s rising dependence on foreign suppliers for many of the minerals used to keep our economy strong and our nation safe.

“In 1997, we imported 100 percent of 11 different minerals and 50 percent or more of another 26,” Murkowski said. “A little over twenty years later, our foreign mineral dependence has increased significantly. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, last year we imported at least 50 percent of 48 minerals, including 100 percent of 18 of them.”

Murkowski pointed to the many times the committee has focused on mineral security under her leadership, and reiterated that Congress must complement the administration’s actions with new legislation to help rebuild the domestic supply chain.

“I hope that this is finally the year that Congress will work together to advance bipartisan legislation that will help rebuild our mineral supply chain,” Murkowski said.

Joe Balash, Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management at the Department of the Interior, testified that “The Department is committed to promoting domestically sourced critical minerals. Doing so will create and sustain jobs, promote U.S. technological innovation, and reduce our Nation’s vulnerability to disruptions in the critical mineral supply chain.”

Balash added, “The Department appreciates the Chairman and the Ranking Member’s recognition of the great importance of critical minerals. We are grateful for the hard work that has been done to draft legislation that will help us fulfill the critical minerals strategy developed in response to Executive Order 13817, A Federal Strategy to Ensure Secure and Reliable Supplies of Critical Minerals.”

S. 1317, the American Mineral Security Act, is sponsored by Murkowski and cosponsored by committee Ranking Member Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., Martha McSally, R-Ariz., and Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska. The bill reflects a comprehensive approach to help reduce our foreign mineral dependence, from codifying a list of critical minerals to requirements for geological surveying, common sense permitting reforms, research into alternatives, the promotion of recycling, and workforce development.   

S. 1052, the Rare Earth Element Advanced Coal Technologies (REEACT) Act, is sponsored by Manchin and cosponsored by Murkowski and Senator Shelly Moore Capito, R-W.Va. REEACT would provide for the development of new technologies to extract rare earth elements from coal and coal byproducts, helping to reduce our nation’s current 100 percent dependence on foreign suppliers.  

Murkowski is chairman of the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. An archived video of today’s hearing can be found on the committee’s website. Click here, here, here and here to view her questions for the witnesses.