Murkowski: President Should Look Closer to Home for Critical Minerals

Administration Standing in the Way of Domestic Production of Rare Earth Elements

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today issued the following statement in response to President Obama’s announcement that the administration was filing a complaint with the World Trade Organization over China’s policy of restricting export of its rare earth minerals:

“The president wants to sue the Chinese for something that we could – and should – be producing for ourselves. Instead of settling for Chinese imports, the president should be taking steps to jumpstart development of our own supplies of rare earth elements and other critical minerals. All he has to do is look north to Alaska, which has already identified roughly 70 rare earth elements sites.

“We have some of the strictest environmental standards in the world, but the president prefers to import minerals critical to our competitiveness and security from a country that has some of the lowest. If the president wants to address China’s dominance in critical minerals production, he should support changes to U.S. federal minerals policy to allow domestic mining.”

The United States is 100 percent dependent on foreign sources for 17 critical minerals. Murkowski, the ranking member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, has been calling for reforming federal minerals policy for the past two years. Murkowski introduced the Critical Minerals Policy Act (S. 1113) last year, with 19 bipartisan cosponsors, to update federal mining policy, but the legislation has languished in the committee waiting for the Majority to schedule a markup.