Murkowski pushes for U.S. mineral security

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, says that foreign mineral dependence is a threat to the nation’s ability to create jobs in America.

“It threatens our growth, our competitiveness, and our national security,” Murkowski told those in attendance March 28 at an oversight hearing of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, which she chairs.

“It may seem abstract right now, for some who are not responsible for managing a supply chain,” she said. “But there will come a day when it will become real for all of us- when we simply cannot acquire a mineral, or when the market for a mineral changes so dramatically, that entire industries are affected.”

Last year the U.S. imported at least 50 percent of its supply of at least 50 minerals and 100 percent of its supply of 20 minerals, including many that are essential components of defense, medical, energy, electronic and other advanced technologies, she said.

While some agencies have begun to wake up to threats posed by dependence on foreign minerals the federal government is not, on the whole, paying anywhere near enough attention, she said.

For the past three Congresses, Murkowski has introduced legislation to boost the nation’s mineral security, including her American Mineral Security Act . That bill would amend the National Materials and Minerals policy, Research and Development Act of 1980 to direct the president to establish an analytical and forecasting capability for identifying critical mineral market factors so as to avoid supply shortages, price volatility, and prepare for demand growth and other market shifts.  The bill would also encourage federal agencies to facilitate development and production of domestic resources to meet national critical material and minerals needs.