ICYMI: An Extra Reason for New Year’s Fireworks

December 31, 2020

ICYMI: It would be easy to miss amid the passage of coronavirus relief and government funding for the rest of the fiscal year, but another significant milestone occurred last Sunday, when President Trump signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, into law.

One of the measures that we are celebrating at the Energy and Natural Resources Committee is the enactment of most of Chairman Murkowski’s American Mineral Security Act, which will begin to reverse our nation’s damaging dependence on foreign minerals.

As a result of this important policy directive, federal agencies are now required to maintain a list of minerals critical to our economy and national defense, survey lands to determine where we have viable deposits of those minerals, and forecast supply and demand to shed more light on often-dark minerals markets. 

The measure also provides for workforce development, supports R&D for new refining methods, and promotes recycling and alternatives for the minerals that we lack. We have more work to do – particularly on permitting reform – but these are all improvements that will help secure domestic supply chains needed to manufacture the products that Americans use every single day.

This action – the most significant that Congress has taken on minerals in decades – comes at a pivotal time. In 2019, the United States imported over 50 percent of our supply of 46 different minerals, including 100 percent of 17 of them. The International Energy Agency recently highlighted how that vulnerability could impede the transition to renewable energy technologies.

As reported by Reuters, the American Mineral Security Act provides a comprehensive framework to address the entire mineral supply chain. It is essential for combating the growing economic and national security threats raised by China’s aggressive moves to control the global mining and mineral processing sectors.

Fortunately, we have world-class mineral deposits in Alaska and the Lower 48, willing entrepreneurs in the private sector, and experts at the U.S. Geological Survey and our National Labs, which combined will put us on a better track to reverse our foreign dependence. So as the world prepares to welcome 2021 tonight, we will be toasting not just the New Year – or all of the minerals used in fireworks – but also our newfound opportunities to strengthen our mineral security right here at home.