WASHINGTON – Last week, U.S. Senators for Idaho Jim Risch and Mike Crapo joined Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah) in sending a bicameral letter to U.S. Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue encouraging them to finalize rulemakings that will modernize and simplify regulations governing the domestic production of locatable minerals.
“There are opportunities to improve the regulatory environment by streamlining authorizations, reducing costs, and improving security of tenure. Such changes would help to strengthen domestic supply chains for every facet of the manufacturing economy,” the lawmakers wrote. “Modernizing these regulations will serve as a catalyst for investment, which is vital as the U.S. works to overcome the economic impacts of COVID-19.”
In 2017, President Trump issued Executive Order 13817, outlining a federal strategy for mineral security. The Department of the Interior (DOI) subsequently finalized a list of 35 critical minerals in mid-2018. In June 2019, the Department of Commerce released a strategy report with 61 recommendations to rebuild the United States’ critical minerals supply chain, including recommendations that DOI and the U.S. Department of Agriculture update and make their regulations as consistent as possible.
According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the United States imported at least 50 percent of its supply of 46 different nonfuel minerals in 2019, including 100 percent of 17 of them. China, in particular, has consolidated control over the supply chains of many minerals and the technologies they are used to manufacture.
Additional signers of the letter included Sens. John Barrasso R-Wyo., John Hoeven, R-N.D., Bill Cassidy, R-La., James Lankford, R-Okla., Steve Daines, R-Mont., Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-Miss., Kevin Cramer, R- N.D., and Martha McSally, R-Ariz., as well as Reps. Don Young, R-Alaska, Mike Simpson, R-Idaho-2, Louie Gohmert, R-Texas-1, Doug Lamborn, R-Colo.-5, Tom McClintock, R-Calif.-4, Rick Crawford, R-Ark.-1, Jeff Duncan, R-S.C.-3, Paul Gosar, R-Ariz.-4, David B. McKinley, R-W.Va.-1, Austin Scott, R-Ga.-8, Scott Tipton, R-Colo.-3, Daniel Webster, R-Fla.-11, Mark Amodei, R-Nev.-2, Paul Cook, R-Calif.-8, Chris Stewart, R-Utah-2, Tom Emmer, R-Minn.-6, Jody Hice, R-Ga.-10, Dan Newhouse, R-Wash.-4, Bruce Westerman, R-Ark.-4, Greg Gianforte, R-Mont., John Curtis, Kevin Hern, R-Okla.-1, R-Utah-3, Kelly Armstrong, R-N.D., Jim Baird, R-Ind.-4, Russ Fulcher, R-Idaho-1, Guy Reschenthaler, R-Penn.-14, and Pete Stauber, R-Minn.-8.
Read the full text of the letter here.
Risch and Crapo have long advocated for legislation to reduce our nation’s foreign mineral dependence and are cosponsors of S. 1317, the American Mineral Security Act.