Biden’s Doing Far Too Little to Reduce U.S. Dependency on Chinese Rare Earth Elements
The United States finds itself at a critical juncture regarding the security of its mineral supply chains. The heart of the matter lies with the rare earth minerals, those 17 indispensable metals that are the lifeblood of our defense technologies, consumer electronics, and green energy sector. China, holding a near-monopolistic grip on the global supply, produces 60% and processes a staggering 90% of the world’s rare earths. This dominance poses a stark threat to American technological sovereignty and national security.
The Biden Administration, while making strides with the formation of the Mineral Security Partnership, needs to address the elephant in the room: the glacial pace of permitting domestic mining of these strategic resources. The stark reality is that the U.S. has only one rare earth mine and is heavily reliant on imports, primarily from a country that has not shied away from using its resources as geopolitical leverage. China’s recent export restrictions on rare earth technology and other critical minerals underscore the urgency of the situation.
It’s high time the U.S. government took decisive action to bolster domestic mining operations. This means not only encouraging the exploration and development of our mineral wealth but also streamlining the notoriously cumbersome mine permitting process, which takes an average of eight years. Currently, a Kafkaesque bureaucracy can extend the timeline from conception to production of new mines to a shocking 20 years, placing us at a severe disadvantage in the race for mineral independence.
Despite legislative efforts aimed at reforming this process, the Administration has been slow to implement these changes, ironically enabling taxpayer dollars to enrich our rivals while domestic initiatives languish. Moreover, recent policy decisions have inadvertently favored importing minerals from abroad rather than fostering self-sufficiency. This approach not only undermines our economic and environmental goals but also leaves us dangerously exposed to the whims of foreign powers.
America’s response to this challenge cannot be half-hearted. We need a concerted effort to slash red tape and kickstart the domestic mining industry. This includes incentivizing the construction of new mines and processing facilities on U.S. soil, ensuring a steady and secure supply of these critical resources. Our national security and economic future depend on it.
The stakes couldn’t be higher. As China continues to flex its geopolitical muscle, the U.S. must not remain complacent. Strengthening our mineral supply chain is not just an economic issue; it’s a matter of national security. Let’s not wait for a crisis to appreciate the importance of having control over our mineral destiny. The time for action is now.