Murkowski: Foreign Mineral Dependence Continues to Grow

U.S. Reliance on Foreign Sources Puts U.S. Security, Prosperity at Risk

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today held a full committee oversight hearing to examine the United States’ increasing dependence on foreign sources of minerals and the opportunities we have to rebuild and improve the domestic supply chain. The hearing touched on numerous issues, including permitting delays, which create a significant obstacle to economically viable domestic mineral production

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Click image to view archived video of the hearing.

In her opening statement, Murkowski underscored the economic and national security risks associated with our growing foreign mineral dependence.

“Our foreign mineral dependence is a threat to our ability to create jobs in America,” Murkowski said. “It threatens our growth, our competitiveness, and our national security.  It may seem abstract right now, for some who are not responsible for managing a supply chain. But there will come a day when it will become real for all of us—when we simply cannot acquire a mineral, or when the market for a mineral changes so dramatically, that entire industries are affected.”

Murkowski explained how the federal government can do more to shore up U.S. mineral security, noting that last year the U.S. imported at least 50 percent of its supply of at least 50 minerals and 100 percent of its supply of 20 minerals, including many that are essential components of defense, medical, energy, electronic, and other advanced technologies.

“Some agencies have begun to wake up to the threats posed by our foreign mineral dependence,” Murkowski said. “Yet, on the whole, the federal government is not paying anywhere near enough attention. Executive agencies are not as focused or as coordinated as they need to be.  And they do not have the direction or authority they need to make lasting progress to restore our mineral security.”

During the question-and-answer portion of today’s hearing, Murkowski pressed the panel on the lack of progress made on this issue.

“Instead of lessening our dependence, we are actually increasing our dependence – we’re not making headway on this issue,” Murkowski said. “So much of this is education. It fits with my view of how many in this country view energy in general. There’s this immaculate conception theory of energy – it just happens. And I am starting to think that same view holds true for minerals. We don’t make the connection to where our minerals fit in with our daily lives.”

For the past three Congresses, Murkowski has introduced legislation to improve our nation’s mineral security, along with members from both sides of our committee. Last Congress, her American Mineral Security Act (S. 883) was included virtually intact in her broad, bipartisan energy bill, which was overwhelmingly approved by the committee and the Senate.

Murkowski is the chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. An archived video of the hearing can be found on the committee’s website.

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