Senators Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Improve Critical Minerals Supply Chain

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today introduced the Critical Minerals Policy Act, along with Sens. Ben Nelson (D-Nebraska), Jim Webb (D-Virginia), James Risch (R-Idaho), Kay Hagan (D-North Carolina), Roy Blunt (R-Missouri), John Barrasso (R-Wyoming), Mike Enzi (R-Wyoming), Kent Conrad (D-North Dakota), Thad Cochran (R-Mississippi), Mark Begich (D-Alaska), Dean Heller (R-Nevada), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Debbie Stabenow (D-Michigan), John Hoeven (R-North Dakota), Claire McCaskill (D-Missouri), and Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia).

The legislation seeks to revitalize the United States’ critical minerals supply chain and reduce the nation’s growing dependence on foreign suppliers by directing the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) to establish a list of minerals critical to the U.S. economy and providing a comprehensive set of policies to address each economic sector that relies upon critical minerals. 

Murkowski: “Minerals shape our daily lives, our standard of living, and our ability to prosper.  We rely on minerals for everything from the smallest computer chips to the tallest skyscrapers, and yet the United States somehow lacks clear policies to ensure an affordable and abundant domestic supply.  The Critical Minerals Policy Act will help solve that problem by modernizing our policies for production, processing, environmental protection, manufacturing and recycling.  Through this Act, we will ensure more opportunities for domestic jobs, technological innovation, increased national security and greater competitiveness.”

Nelson: “Improving access to these minerals will help keep American companies competitive, protect the U.S. economy and help create jobs. They are found in every high tech device and are critical for defense and aerospace technologies, necessary for the continued development of the renewable energy industry, and have many agricultural applications. This is an issue of making sure American companies have access to the resources they need to be successful. With the finding of nobium in my home-state, which is used to harden steel, Nebraska also has the resources to help meet this challenge.”

Webb: “Just fifteen years ago, more than two-thirds of our rare minerals came from below U.S. soil, but today we are entirely dependent on foreign imports. Our economic and energy security are national imperatives, therefore we must reclaim our mineral independence.  This legislation is a practical approach to ensure the United States is able to meet its own mineral needs, remains a leader in high-technology, and is another step toward a clean energy future.”

Risch: “Everything we use each day was either grown or taken out of the land. Locating and mining critical minerals is not only important from an economic standpoint, it is a matter of national security.”

Hagan: "Our dependence on foreign sources for critical minerals is unacceptable. The bipartisan Critical Minerals Policy Act ensures the American critical mineral supply is stable and affordable to support next-generation manufacturing. The legislation includes my Powering America's Lithium Production Act, which increases domestic production of advanced lithium products that will power the cars and smart grid of the future. With gas prices sky high, it's more vital than ever to support clean energy research and development."

Blunt: “Critical minerals are vital to our economy and national security. From rare earth elements to lead, we need to set a greater priority on domestic mineral production.  This bill is an important step to keeping America competitive with foreign nations, and will help to fuel our economy with significant opportunities for job creation.”

Barrasso: “America’s abundant and affordable minerals are crucial for our economic security as well as our national security.  This legislation is an important step to make sure that the U.S. has the domestic supply chain for critical minerals.”

Enzi: “If we want to compete with China, the country that controls more than 90 percent of the world’s known rare earth minerals, American companies need access to American rare earth minerals. Expanding the development of domestic sources will expand American businesses, help us compete internationally and is key to our economic growth.”

Conrad: "These minerals play a fundamental role in our economy. They are part of virtually every product we use, from cell phones, computers and pace makers to cars. We should not be dependent on foreign states to provide the U.S. with critical minerals that are available domestically, especially those that are crucial to our national security and energy production."

Begich: “The United States used to be the leader in mining, processing and manufacturing. We can lead again, and this bill is an important step to getting us there.”

Heller: “Access to our own natural resources is critical to both our economic and national security. Some of the largest concentrations of rare earth minerals are in the United States, but instead of developing our own resources, we are increasingly becoming more dependent on foreign countries. Our nation needs a policy that supports mineral development, not one that discourages it.”

Crapo: “The United States has fallen behind other nations as a producer and exporter of critical minerals, and that is simply unacceptable. These minerals support key industries that are essential to our economic recovery and future, such as communications, construction, technology and transportation, among others. Critical minerals are in abundant supply right here in America, and we need to start accessing them in order to help put our country back to work. This legislation will put us on the right path to doing so, and I am proud to take part in this critical effort.”   

Hoeven: “Our country is fortunate to have a diversity of minerals, which can serve as a foundation to grow our economy and create much needed jobs. This legislation will help empower American businesses to use our mineral resources in productive and innovative ways to make our country safer and our economy stronger.”

McCaskill: “These elements have become increasingly important as global demand has soared.  Our ability to build fighter engines, missile guidance systems and space satellites will be jeopardized in the coming years if we don’t encourage entrepreneurship and innovation. China’s choke hold on world markets diminishes our national security and threatens our economy.  We should support domestic research and production, especially in Missouri, to secure an independent supply of these vital elements.”

A full bill text and a summary of the bill are attached.