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Rare Earth Elements in National Defense

to a long-term balance between resource production, energy use, a healthy environment, natural resources conservation, and social needs. 74

H.R. 618, the Rare Earths and Critical Materials Revitalization Act of 2011

On February 10, 2011, Representative Leonard Boswell introduced the Rare Earths and Critical Materials Revitalization Act of 2011. The bill was referred to the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology.

The bill seeks to develop a rare earth materials program and amend the National Materials and Minerals Policy, Research and Development Act of 1980. If enacted, it would provide for loan guarantees to revitalize domestic production of rare earths in the United States.

S. 1113, the Critical Minerals Policy Act of 2011

On May 26, 2011, Senator Lisa Murkowski introduced the Critical Minerals Policy Act of 2011, which was referred to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. On June 9, 2011, the Subcommittee on Energy held a hearing. The bill generally defines what critical minerals are but would request that the Secretary of the Interior establish a methodology (in consultation with others) that would identify which minerals qualify as critical. The Secretary of the Interior would direct a comprehensive resource assessment of critical mineral potential in the United States, including details on the critical mineral potential on federal lands. S. 1113 would establish a Critical Minerals Working Group to examine the permitting process for mineral development in the United States and facilitate a more efficient process, specifically, a draft performance metric for permitting mineral development and report on the timeline of each phase of the process. The DOI would produce an Annual Critical Minerals Outlook report that would provide forecasts of domestic supply, demand, and price for up to 10 years. DOE would lead research and development on critical minerals and workforce development that would support a fully integrated supply chain in the United States. Title II of the bill recommends mineral-specific action (led by DOE) for cobalt, helium, lead, lithium, low-btu gas, phosphate, potash rare earth elements, and thorium. Title III would, among other things, authorize for appropriation $106 million.

Legislation Introduced in the 111th Congress

In the 111th Congress, two bills were enacted that contain provisions affecting rare earth policy. The first was P.L. 111-84 (H.R. 2647), the National Defense Authorization Act for FY2010. Section 843 of P.L. 111-84 required GAO to examine rare earths in the defense supply chain, and it also required the Secretary of Defense to assess the defense supply chain and develop a plan to address any shortfalls or other supply chain vulnerabilities.75 The second bill was P.L. 111-383, the Ike Skelton National Defense Authorization Act for FY2011, which contains a provision (Section 843) that requires the Secretary of Defense to undertake an assessment of the supply chain for rare earth materials and determine which, if any, rare earths are strategic or critical to



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    383, Section 6, Supply of Critical Minerals and Materials.

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    L. 111-84 was signed into law on October 28, 2009.

Congressional Research Service


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