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February 13, 2016

Critical-Minerals Bill Faces Conservative Backlash

Rare-earth ytterbium metal (Energy Department)

Rare-earth ytterbium metal (Energy Department)

Conservative groups are pushing against a critical-minerals bill the House is expected to vote on Tuesday evening.

The Club for Growth and Heritage Action for America urged House members to vote against the bill by Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., which would authorize a program within the Energy Department to focus on creating a long-term supply of domestic critical minerals, Geof Koss reports on (subscription).

The measure would reauthorize a research and development program to improve production methods, develop alternatives and evaluate methods of recycling chemical elements that are at risk of supply disruptions and are critical to energy-related technologies. Lithium and lesser-known minerals such as neodymium, europium and yttrium (three of the “rare earths“) are often small but significant ingredients in manufacturing electronics for advanced weapon systems, medical imaging machines and renewable energy technology.

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee considered a similar measure in January, introduced by the committee’s ranking Republican, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.

“Our mineral-related polices remain outdated,” Murkowski said at the time, citing figures that the United States relies on China for most of its processing of rare-earth minerals. “All along the supply chain, our mineral related capabilities have slipped,” she said.

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  2. 1barbaradurkin

    July 28, 2014
    5:56 p.m.

    Courting disastrous pollution, rare earth mineral mining, in order to save the planet using wind turbines that require them begs the question, “Is wind really green?”

    “Jamie Choi, an expert on toxics for Greenpeace China, says villagers living near the lake face horrendous health risks from the carcinogenic and radioactive waste.
    ‘There’s not one step of the rare earth mining process that is not disastrous
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    ground, and then they are processed using more acid and chemicals…”

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