Gordon is Talking With Senators on Rare-Earths Bill
October 26, 2010
By Mark Drajem
U.S. House Science and Technology Committee Chairman Bart Gordon said today he is talking to senators in an effort to convince them to pass a measure on rare-earth elements shortly after the Nov. 2 election.
Gordon, a Tennessee Democrat, told a conference in Washington that the only way to get legislation this year boosting U.S. mining and production would be if the Senate clears the version that the House passed on Sept. 29. To do that in the short lame-duck session would require that no senator object to sending the bill to the president, he said.
China, the source of more than 90 percent of the world’s rare earths, announced a 72 percent cut in second-half export quotas, drawing concern about supplies from Germany, Japan and the U.S. In addition, Chinese customs officials are delaying shipments by various means, such as imposing extra inspections, according to industry participants who spoke on condition of anonymity because of concern about Chinese reaction.
“China’s latest actions have underscored our vulnerability once again,” Rep. Dan Lipinski, an Illinois Democrat, said in a statement today.
The rare earths, a group of 17 metals including neodymium, lanthanum, cerium and europium, have industrial and national- security uses, such as in petroleum refining, fiber-optic transmission, computer disk drives, and military radar and missile-guidance systems.
The U.S. should stockpile rare earths and other critical materials, boost research in technologies that reduce the need for the metals and increase recycling of rare earths, Lipinski said.
“I also believe that we should take advantage of next month’s G-20 meeting in South Korea to directly address concerns about China’s rare-earth policy, and to seek common ground with other impacted countries such as Germany and Japan,” he said.
The Obama administration is “monitoring” reports about cuts in rare-earth exports by China, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said today.
The U.S. “wouldn’t hesitate” to raise the issue at the G-20 summit if it is something that top security and economic officials think is necessary, he said.
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