Sen. Murkowski Introduces Legislation to Promote Domestic Production of Rare Earth Elements

WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today introduced legislation to promote the domestic production of rare earth elements crucial to the high-tech and clean energy industries.

The Rare Earth Supply Technology and Resources Transformation (RESART) Act would help the United States regain its position as a leader in the mining and processing of rare earths elements.

"America's growing reliance on foreign minerals endangers our efforts to advance cleaner energy," Murkowski said. "We have slowly but surely surrendered the front end of the clean energy supply chain."

The United States is estimated to contain 15 percent of the world's rare earth reserves, but the nation remains dependent upon China for imports of nearly all of these critical materials.

"Rather than further restrict mining in this country, the industry could be creating American jobs and producing minerals that are essential to clean energy technologies. Unless action is taken, we will trade our current dependence on foreign oil for an equally unsettling dependence on foreign minerals," Murkowski said.

Rare earths are a group of 17 elements that are increasingly vital to a host of modern defense and clean energy technologies, including radar systems, modern weaponry, advanced batteries, next-generation vehicles, high-efficiency lighting, and wind turbines.

"China accounts for 97 percent of global rare earth production and has held clean energy manufacturing hostage by limiting exports. As a direct result, we risk a future in which wind turbines, solar panels, advanced batteries and geothermal steam turbines are not made in the USA, but somewhere else."

Murkowski's legislation comes on the heels of two resolutions passed by the Alaska state Legislature urging Congress to advance development of new rare earth reserves in the United States. Ucore Uranium and its subsidiary, RareEarth One, plan to drill 5,000 feet of new core samples this year at their Bokan Mountain site in Alaska to improve mineral estimates.

U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Colorado, introduced a companion measure (H.R. 4866) in March that has attracted bipartisan support in the U.S. House of Representatives.

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