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Murkowski Debunks False Claims about Rare Earths R&D Language


September 12, 2020
Saturday AM

(SitNews) Washington, D.C. - U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), spoke on the Senate floor this week to address inaccurate claims being made about her bipartisan American Mineral Security Act, which is included as Title X of Republicans’ targeted coronavirus relief package. 

Rather than acknowledging the importance of rebuilding U.S. supply chains, particularly in light of the vulnerabilities exposed during the coronavirus pandemic, one Democratic Senator declared that part of the minerals title could “fast-track coal mines” and is “targeted to corporate donors.” Another Democratic Senator asserted, on Twitter, that the provision amounts to “corporate welfare to the coal industry during a climate emergency.”

Chairman Murkowski Speaks on the Senate Floor About Minerals Provisions in the Targeted Relief Package from Senate Energy & Natural Resources on Vimeo

Both of those claims are false and misleading. The reality is that the minerals title has broad support and addresses a growing threat to our security and competitiveness. The provision in question, initially authored by ENR Ranking Member Joe Manchin of West Virginia, has been reported by ENR three separate times with bipartisan backing. It does not grant any permitting authority to the Department of Energy; it authorizes limited funding but does not actually provide it; research grants from the Department of Energy do not qualify as “corporate welfare,” particularly if they go to National Labs and universities; and the Obama administration previously supported this type of work – which has been undertaken by a number of national laboratories and universities. 

Extracting rare earth elements from old coal tailings has significant potential to lessen the United States’ near-total dependence on foreign nations, especially China, for these essential minerals. This shouldn’t be a partisan issue, and a first step would be for certain members to stop making false claims about it. 

Below are excerpts from Murkowski’s floor remarks: 

“There is a measure in this bill that has invoked an interesting bit of controversy and it’s in an area that I authored. This comes from the text of my American Mineral Security Act. The portion of the bill that is in controversy right now…is actually text from a bipartisan bill that my friend and the ranking member of the Energy Committee inserted himself. 

“We know that we import almost all of our rare earths from abroad, primarily from China. We know the supply is precarious. China has already demonstrated its willingness to cut off another country when it feels like it. And we know that we need this, whether it’s for iPhones, flat screens, jet engines, or satellites – it’s all about the supply chain. 

“So I was a little bit bemused, I guess, when I saw that this particular provision was the object of partisan scorn. It was actually the Obama administration that helped fund the research to examine the potential of these technologies.

“But when you think of what we’re doing here, we’re seeking to recover rare earths from coal waste. It’s a little bit like turning your trash into treasure. It is the ultimate in recycling…It could ironically add to our domestic supplies without necessitating new mines. 

“I think one of the things we’ve learned from this pandemic is that supply chains really matter. Whether it’s supply chains in the pharmaceutical end, or supply chains when it comes to these minerals, they are so essential to everything that we do.”



Edited By Mary Kauffman, SitNews

Source of News:

Office of U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski

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