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Waltz Introduces Bill to Reduce U.S. Dependence on China for Critical Minerals

WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Thursday, U.S. Rep. Michael Waltz (R-Fla.) introduced a bill to reduce America’s dependence on foreign sources of critical minerals and bring the U.S. supply chain from China back to America.

The American Critical Mineral Exploration and Innovation Act of 2020 would reduce American dependence on foreign minerals, which are essential to modern life.

The bill is co-sponsored by Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.), House Natural Resources Committee Ranking Republican Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah), House Science, Space and Technology Committee Ranking Republican Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) and House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).
Minerals have applications in healthcare, defense systems and renewable energy. China has dominated and controlled the critical minerals market for years. Fourteen of the 35 critical minerals identified by the United States Geological Survey are imported to the U.S. at a rate of 100 percent.

“From healthcare to electronics and our defense systems, critical minerals are integral to our way of life. Unfortunately, China currently has a stronghold on the supply of these natural resources,” said Waltz. “As coronavirus has unfortunately demonstrated, if China can threaten to cut off our pharmaceutical supply, they can do the same with their supply of rare earth minerals. We need to bring this supply chain back to America – and this bill will be an important step to do that.”

“I am proud to sponsor the American Critical Mineral Exploration and Innovation Act of 2020 with Representative Waltz,” said Gosar. “This dual-committee effort will make significant strides toward securing our nation a domestic supply chain of critical minerals from the United States for the United States. Critical minerals are the building blocks of modern life, necessary for applications in defense systems, renewable technologies, healthcare and more. For years, our country has become increasingly dependent on China and other nations to fulfill our demand for minerals. The global pandemic has demonstrated the severe consequences of allowing this longstanding overreliance on China to go unchecked and this legislation will begin the complex process of unraveling our addiction and addressing this problem. This bill tackles impediments to domestic critical mineral development including inefficiencies in the Federal permitting process and shortsighted mineral withdrawals, and also promotes technological advancements such as minerals recycling. Our need for critical minerals will skyrocket in the coming decades, especially as demand for renewable energy and battery storage increases. That demand can only be met with new mining and new resources, the American Critical Mineral Exploration and Innovation Act will help us meet this challenge head on.”

“The global pandemic has highlighted significant supply chain vulnerabilities, particularly our reliance on China and other nations to meet our demand for critical minerals,” said Rep. Bishop. “The introduction of the American Critical Mineral Exploration and Innovation Act is an urgently needed step in the right direction. Shortsighted federal policy has left us reliant on our adversaries and with an abundance of domestic minerals untapped, leaving our renewable energy technologies, healthcare and modern way of life with dangerous uncertainties. From overhauling our permitting process to prioritizing advancements in mineral refining, this legislation provides solutions for rebuilding every aspect of the domestic critical mineral supply chain. I look forward to working with Representatives Gosar and Waltz, our Senate committee counterparts and Leadership in both chambers to advance this legislation to the President’s desk.”

“Critical minerals power technologies ranging from cell phones to medical equipment to renewable energy storage. China holds an overwhelming advantage in access to critical minerals and the COVID-19 pandemic has made it dangerously clear that we can’t take our supply for granted,” said Rep. Lucas. “We need to be forward-thinking about how we develop our resources and manage our access to critical minerals. I’m proud to join my colleagues on this bill which not only helps secure our supply of critical minerals but also accelerates research into critical minerals development and technologies.”

“The world has paid a costly price for China’s dangerous missteps on how they have handled this pandemic. The Chinese Communist Party hid the severity of the virus, manipulated statistics and still refuse to allow international experts to investigate or share viral samples with the scientific community,” said Leader McCarthy. “What this health crisis has also exposed is our dangerous dependence on China when it comes to our supply chain. We can no longer afford inaction. That is why I am proud Republicans on the Natural Resources and Science, Space and Technology Committees, an effort led by Representatives Waltz and Gosar, are working together on a legislative fix that would restore stability and independence to our critical minerals supply chain. The American Critical Minerals Exploration and Innovation Act will make sure our country continues to become stronger on the other side of this pandemic and will help us follow through on a national commitment to put America’s energy future into our own hands.”

For highlights of this legislation, click here.

For bill text, click here.