Ketchikan Daily News: EDITORIAL: Rare U.S. jobs

Sen. Lisa Murkowski has proposed legislation that would bring jobs home.

When we say "home," we mean the Ketchikan area.

With all of the jobs exported these days (check your closet to find even one item of clothing made in the good old U.S.A. and it'll be difficult to find), work needs to be returned home. Exporting our jobs is exporting our economy.

Right now China benefits greatly indeed in terms of clothing, but in many other items, too, many of which are dependent on rare earth elements.

Murkowski has written legislation that would promote the use of U.S. sources of rare earth elements needed by high-tech and clean energy industries.

China is responsible for 97 percent of the world's production of rare earth elements. The elements are needed for national security and clean energy technology, such as radar systems, modern weaponry, advanced batteries, motor vehicles, high-efficiency lighting and wind turbines.

The United States depends on China for 100 percent of its rare earth elements despite the fact that it has 15 percent of the world's resources, part of which is in Ketchikan's backyard - Bokan Mountain on Prince of Wales Island.

The Rare Earth Supply Technology and Resources Transformation Act would advance developments like Bokan during the next five years. Ucore Uranium and its subsidiary, RareEarth One, are to drill 5,000 feet of new core samples this year.

Not only should the jobs that result from rare earth extraction be in the United States, but they might need to be soon. China is considering an export ban on certain elements and a limit on others. Such actions would give China a vise-grip control over production of technology dependent on rare earth elements, technology imperative to U.S. defense and energy production.

Bokan Mountain is recognized as a likely site to provide substantial quantities of rare earth elements, particulary the most valued types, such as terbium, used in computer hard drives and mobile telephones.

Energy and jobs are two of the nation's and Alaska's top priorities. The Murkowski legislation supports both for Alaskans. Congress, let's bring it home.

# # #

Source: Published June 23, 2010