Yesterday the U.S. House of Representatives passed, for the second year in a row, a bill to streamline federal laws to facilitate projects to extract critical minerals from the Earth's crust. What makes these minerals critical, you ask? Many minerals, including but not limited to so-called "rare earth elements", are critical inputs for NEMA member companies. For many of these inputs, U.S. manufacturers are dependent on uncertain sources outside the U.S.
The National Strategic and Critical Minerals Production Act (H.R. 761), sponsored by Michael Amodei (R-NV), would require the Secretary of the Interior and the Secretary of Agriculture to more efficiently develop domestic sources of the minerals "of strategic and critical importance to United States economic and national security and manufacturing competitiveness." The bill was approved yesterday by a party-line 246-178 vote. Only 15 Democrats voted for the bill; no Republicans voted against it.
House passage of Rep. Amodei's proposal should induce some greater interest and potential for Senate action later this year or in 2014 in this important area, where broader legislation proposed in 2011 by Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and supported by NEMA has not been able to move forward in the Energy and Natural Resources Committee.