RARE EARTH PROJECT
Background on H.R. 6160
The political and financial relationship
between China and the United States has taken center stage for quite some
time. A great deal has been written regarding trade imbalance, currency
manipulation and, of course, our country’s dependence on China’s purchases
of our debt, (U.S. bonds). China is the largest importer of U.S. goods and
the largest holder of U.S. debt. This relationship has given many in
Congress cause for concern as it relates to our national security.
According to the Science and Technology
Committee, China holds control of approximately 90-97% of the world’s supply
of rare earth materials. China has imposed export quotas on many of these
rare earth materials and has consistently decreased those quotas. In fact,
over the past year they have reduced quotas by 72%.
There is growing concern that if, nothing is done, we
could become dependent on Chinese-made electronics made specifically for
military use, energy storage and power generation. As we search and develop
alternative energy sources, we find rare earth elements in all of them
ranging from wind turbines and hybrid vehicles, to batteries and electric
We are putting our nation in a compromising
situation. An example of this
potential problem is the Japanese relationship with China. According to a
New York Times article dated 10/10/2010 “ Amid a diplomatic spat with Tokyo,
China started to block exports of all rare earths to Japan.” What would our
response be if supplies were cut to the United States? Imagine the potential
repercussions to commerce and our military capability if we continue to be
reliant on China for these important materials?
H.R. 6160 was written and introduced to
deal with the issue of China’s monopolistic approach to the accumulation of
raw materials. This “resource free-for-all” attitude ranges from oil, gas,
coal and tar sands just to name a few. As our world has continued to use
greater amounts of all resources, it is no wonder rare earth metals and
China’s method of accumulation are now forcing our lawmakers to act in our
country’s best interest. Bravo.
6160 Rare Earths and Critical Revitalization Act
Kathleen A. Dahlkemper (Science and Technology Committee)
Status: Bill Has Passed the House on
9/29/2010 as the “Rare Earths and Critical Materials Revitalization Act of
Purpose of the Bill: to establish a program
within the Department of Energy to research and develop advancing technology
to assure the long-term, secure, and sustainable supply of rare earth
materials sufficient to satisfy the national security, economic well-being
and industrial production needs of the U.S.
To accomplish this Department of Energy
(D.O.E.) will collaborate with relevant government agencies and foreign
countries with interests relating to rare earth materials.
In addition, the bill would allow the
D.O.E. to make loan guarantees for the commercial application of new or
improved technologies for the separation, recovery, or application of rare
The bill has considerable implications for
new commercial ventures in the rare earth arena. Loan guarantees could be
approved for the application of rare earth materials in the production of
improved magnets, batteries, refrigeration systems, optical systems,
electronics, and energy catalysts. The authority to enter into guarantees
would expire September 30, 2015.
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