In its bid to reduce dependence on Chinese imports, the Biden administration is eyeing to produce rare earth minerals at home with the help of Republicans. These minerals are critical to producing electric vehicles and electronic appliances.
A bipartisan bill in Congress would reduce American dependence on China
A bipartisan bill, namely the Restoring Essential Energy and Security Holdings Onshore for Rare Earths (REEShore) Act, was introduced by GOP lawmaker Tom Cotton and Democratic lawmaker Mark Kelly.
Congressional lawmakers are currently trying to accelerate the passage of this bill, as depicted by Senator Kelly while speaking to Yahoo News.
A Republican and Democratic senator introduced legislation Friday that aims to end U.S. reliance on rare-earth metals sourced from and produced in China. The Restoring Essential Energy and Security Holdings Onshore for Rare Earths (REEShore) Act would prevent supply disruptio… pic.twitter.com/RY1fLCMntu
— theconservativeworld.com (@TheConsworld) January 15, 2022
Labeling the bill a “national security risk,” Kelly urged the Pentagon to act immediately and eliminate all the Chinese metals from military weapon systems.
Emphasizing the need to amass the rare earth metals, the senator also said China can knock out America from the competition any time because the USA depends upon them.
As of now, China has a monopoly on the production of nearly 17 rare metals that are used for almost everything in the contemporary world, ranging from wind turbines to smart electronic gadgets.
According to the data of the US Geographical Survey, China has the authority to control 80 percent of global trade of these metals, putting the American adversary in the driving seat.
Still, China is busy fending off any remaining competition in the industry; the country recently absorbed some top companies into a conglomerate that will increase the development of mines in China.
The legislation introduced by Cotton and Kelly is asking the Interior Department and the Department of Defense to develop minerals’ strategic reserves for at least one year.
By 2026, the bill is envisioning banning Chinese minerals in military systems and allowing defense contractors to track equipment that they deliver to America.
China's control of rare earths is a national security threat.https://t.co/LPUhQXHK9Z
— Michael Ron Bowling (@mrbcyber) January 21, 2022
Kelly maintained once the US can make stockpiles and defense contractors get access to it, the country would be free from unnecessary dependence on China, which could exploit this leverage anytime.
China exploited other countries for the rare earth metals
Over a period of time, China tried to exploit the vulnerabilities of many countries. It halted rare mineral exports to Japan in 2010 when the country caught a Chinese fisherman in the disputed waters of the South China Sea.
Likewise, China reduced its export quotas the same year to safeguard its own resources and to get a strategic advantage over the United States.
The only rare Earth mine in America is located in Mountain Pass, California, but the controversies associated with it have often made it controversial.
In the 1980s, its output was slashed, followed by environmental concerns and the poor treatment of workers; however, America tried to revive it in 2010.
However, poor economic decisions made the company bankrupt in less than five years. After that, Las Vegas-based MP Material bought the company in 2017; yet, it is struggling to make it operational.