Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke signed a Secretarial Order Thursday aimed at cutting U.S. dependency on foreign countries for many “critical” minerals contained in batteries, computer chips and military equipment.
The United States is wholly dependent on foreign countries, mainly China, for 20 minerals key to national defense and economic security, despite large pockets of some of the minerals existing on U.S. soil, according to a report released Monday. Other countries supplying the U.S. with critical minerals include Brazil, Russia and South Africa.
“The findings are shocking,” Zinke said in a statement. “The fact that previous administrations allowed the United States to become reliant on foreign nations, including our competitors and adversaries, for minerals that are so strategically important to our security and economy is deeply troubling.”
In response to the report, President Donald Trump issued an Executive Order Wednesday identifying issues that contributed to U.S. mineral dependency. A lack of topographical data, slow permitting processes and environmental litigation inhibit private-sector investment in “exploration, production, recycling, and reprocessing of critical minerals,” according to the order.
Trump directed Zinke to publish a list of critical minerals in the Federal Register within 60 days of the order. Alongside other departments, the Department of the Interior must develop strategies and reform regulations to incentivize domestic mineral production, as well as work out critical mineral trading options with allies.
“This executive order will prioritize reducing the Nation’s vulnerability to disruptions in our supply of critical minerals safely and responsibility for the benefit of the American people,” Trump said in a statement. “The United States must not remain reliant on foreign competitors like Russia and China for the critical minerals needed to keep our economy strong and our country safe.”
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