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Lankford, Colleagues Lead Effort to Bring Mineral Supply Chain Away from China to the US

WASHINGTON, DC – Senator James Lankford (R-OK) today joined Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) to introduce legislation to improve the quality and timeliness of federal permitting and review processes with respect to critical mineral production on federal land. Senators Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), James Risch (R-ID), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Steve Daines (R-MT), and Mike Crapo (R-ID) are original cosponsors of the bill. The current federal permitting process has been an impediment to mineral production and the mineral security of the United States. Permitting times in the US rank among some of the longest in the world and are a threat to our national security and economy.

“Bad actors and human rights abusers like China continue to control the market on key minerals Americans use every day in batteries, smart phones, cars, and more,” said Lankford. “The US and our allies have an opportunity to take the lead on responsibly sourcing these materials and moving that supply chain in a stable direction, but some in the Biden Administration want to limit US energy and mineral production and prefer to rely on Russia and China. We should open up mineral leasing in the US, including on federal lands, to ensure we can access our own supply and use it along with our strategic allies. We can press our advantage in the mineral supply chain now to ensure we can continue to access these key technology components for US innovation.”

“America’s reliance on foreign countries for the production and recycling of our critical minerals is a vulnerability to our national security, a disadvantage to our economy, and a hindrance to our global competitiveness. Unfortunately, the current federal permitting and review process is painfully inefficient—a major deterrent for producers, refiners, and recyclers who desire to supply the minerals that make our modern life possible,” said Murkowski. “By improving the permitting processes we have in place, we are creating greater for America to rebuild a robust domestic critical minerals supply chain.”

“Critical minerals and metals are essential for virtually all modern technology, from cellphones and solar panels to vital military defense technologies, like components in the F35s,” said Sullivan. “It is outrageous that we have allowed China to dominate the production and processing of these minerals, and it’s a threat to our economy and to our national security. The United States has a tremendous opportunity to bring home the production of these critical minerals and create good-paying jobs, particularly in states like Alaska, where these minerals are found in abundance. I’m pleased to cosponsor Senator Murkowski’s bill, which will allow the United States to secure our critical minerals supply chain, create a domestic market for critical minerals, and decrease our dependence on China.”

“American manufacturing and technological development can’t be beholden to the whims of foreign nations, especially when we have these resources in our own back yard,” said Cramer. “If we don’t develop critical minerals in the United States, we force ourselves to rely on adversarial countries like China who have little-to-no labor or environmental protections. Our bill would responsibly develop these resources while prioritizing American workers, reducing emissions, and safeguarding our economy and national security.”

“In Idaho, we have the nation’s only significant domestic deposit of cobalt, a mineral that’s used to produce everything from jet engines to cell phones. Yet instead of mining and processing cobalt in the US, we import our supply from China. The same is true for most critical minerals,” said Risch. “We must prioritize our energy and domestic security and pass this crucial reform.”

“It’s imperative to our national security and economic growth that the United States have a robust domestic critical mineral supply chain,” said Tillis. “This commonsense legislation is key to achieving that goal. I am proud to work with my colleagues so we can improve transparency within the permitting process, strengthen our domestic mineral supply, and stop relying on outside resources.”

“It’s past time we stop outsourcing our nation’s critical mineral supply when states like West Virginia have the resources and capacity to produce them right here at home,” Capito said. “This bill would bring much-needed permitting reform and put in place better procedures that not only improve efficiency, but also put America’s economic and national security interests first.”

“If we don’t increase domestic critical mineral production we will continue to be reliant on hostile, foreign nations,” Daines said. “This bill ensures we don’t take a backseat to China and other countries who have terrible environmental standards and atrocious human rights violations. We can produce these minerals here in the US and grow jobs, protect the environment and bolster our rural communities.”

“Idaho has significant deposits of rare earth elements and has a critical role to play in the domestic supply of rare earth minerals,” said Crapo.  “Decreased reliance on foreign minerals by reducing permitting delays would increase US production of these minerals domestically and meet long-term economic and national security demands.”

The legislation improves the efficiency and effectiveness of the Federal permitting and review process by requiring federal agencies to:

  • Establish clear timelines for decisions regarding applications, operating plans, leases, licenses, permits, and other use authorizations for critical mineral-related activities on Federal land.
  • Create clear, quantifiable permitting performance goals and to track progress toward those goals.
  • Engage in early collaboration with agencies, stakeholders, projects sponsors, and to consult with State, local, and Tribal governments to resolve concerns.
  • Provide clear and logical ways to make the process more cost-effective and timely.