President Donald Trump continues to advance his America First agenda, signing an executive order last week to increase the domestic production of critical minerals vital to the U.S. economy and national security — potentially lessening reliance on foreign adversaries like Communist China.
The president also declared a national emergency over the threat dependence on China and other hostile nations poses.
The Executive Order says, in part:
I, Donald J. Trump, President of the United States of America, find that a strong America cannot be dependent on imports from foreign adversaries for the critical minerals that are increasingly necessary to maintain our economic and military strength in the 21st century. Because of the national importance of reliable access to critical minerals, I signed Executive Order 13817 of December 20, 2017 (A Federal Strategy To Ensure Secure and Reliable Supplies of Critical Minerals), which required the Secretary of the Interior to identify critical minerals and made it the policy of the Federal Government “to reduce the Nation’s vulnerability to disruptions in the supply of critical minerals.”
These critical minerals are necessary inputs for the products our military, national infrastructure, and economy depend on the most. Our country needs critical minerals to make airplanes, computers, cell phones, electricity generation and transmission systems, and advanced electronics. Though these minerals are indispensable to our country, we presently lack the capacity to produce them in processed form in the quantities we need.
The order noted that 31 of 35 critical minerals American producers need for annual consumption are imported.
It also noted that the United States has no domestic production of 14 of the critical minerals it needs, leaving the country “completely dependent” on imports.
Much of that dependence is directly linked to China.
“Our dependence on one country, the People’s Republic of China, for multiple critical minerals is particularly concerning. The United States now imports 80 percent of its rare earth elements directly from China, with portions of the remainder indirectly sourced from China through other countries,” the order states. “In the 1980s, the United States produced more of these elements than any other country in the world, but China used aggressive economic practices to strategically flood the global market for rare earth elements and displace its competitors.”
“Since gaining this advantage, China has exploited its position in the rare earth elements market by coercing industries that rely on these elements to locate their facilities, intellectual property, and technology in China,” the order states.
The effort involves multiple federal agencies, led by Interior, including the Treasury, the Department of Defense, the Department of Commerce, and the Department of Energy.
The order also will provide resources to encourage domestic critical mineral production in the form of grants and loans. And reforms to the mining permitting system also will advance domestic production.
American stakeholders are reacting positively to the move.
“This executive order is an important step toward ensuring the U.S. is free from price manipulation and other aggressive economic maneuvers, particularly as perpetrated by China,” Pini Althaus, CEO of USA Rare Earth, said in a statement provided to Breitbart News. “Our processing facility in Colorado is already up and running; our magnet manufacturing plant should be online in less than 12 months, and in early 2023, the Round Top mine in Texas, which hosts 16 of the 17 rare earth elements, lithium, and a significant concentration of elements on the U.S. Government’s Critical Minerals List, will be fully operational.”
Althaus told Breitbart News that he is also encouraged by bipartisan legislation that has recently been introduced in Congress. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) introduced the Onshoring Rare Earths Act. Reps. Lance Gooden (R-TX) and Vicente Gonzalez (D-TX), introduced the Reclaiming American Rare Earths Act.
Both bills create tax incentives and grant programs to encourage investment in and development of U.S.-based rare earth and critical mineral production, including mining, reclamation, and recycling through processing and advanced materials production.
The Coalition for a Prosperous America issued a statement on Trump’s executive order.
“We congratulate the president and his team for this long-overdue step to save U.S. mining,” Dan DiMicco, chairman of the coalition, said. “Over the past two decades, the United States has become alarmingly reliant on countries like China to supply the metals and minerals needed for both national defense and advanced technologies.”
“As the [Chinese coronavirus] pandemic demonstrated, any nation that is overly reliant on imports of crucial commodities faces a serious chokehold in times of crisis,” DiMicco said. Securing the domestic production of these important resources will put our nation on a stronger economic footing and grow high-tech industries currently dominated by China.”
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