Klobuchar, Franken co-sponsor ‘critical minerals’ bill in Senate – by John Myers (Duluth News Tribune – October 31, 2013)


WASHINGTON — U.S. Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken joined 15 of their colleagues Tuesday introducing legislation to encourage mining of “critical minerals” across the U.S.

The Minnesota Democrats joined senators on both sides of the aisle, all from mining states, on the bill called the “Critical Minerals policy Act of 2013.”

The Senate bill requires the Interior Secretary to maintain a list of 20 minerals and elements designated as critical to the nation. It would amend the National Materials and Minerals Policy, Research and Development Act of 1980 to establish a method of tracking and forecasting the nation’s “critical mineral demand, supply and other market dynamics” to allow “informed actions to be taken to avoid supply shortages, mitigate price volatility and prepare for demand growth and other market shifts.”

The 40-page bill stops short of identifying what specific critical minerals might be. Klobuchar said her support comes from doing what is best for the state and country regarding the mineral supply.

“Many of the industries that drive our economy and keep us safe rely on these minerals,” Klobuchar said in a statement. “This bill will make much-needed policy updates to help ensure an abundant domestic mineral supply that will help Northeast Minnesota — and the country — remain on the cutting edge of innovation and stay competitive on the global stage.”

The legislation also would push federal regulators “to facilitate the availability, development and environmentally responsible production of domestic resources to meet national critical material or mineral needs.” It also calls for more oversight to make sure critical minerals are recycled.

The bill orders federal agencies to avoid duplicating regulatory actions, prevent unnecessary paperwork and minimize “unnecessary delays” in mining projects, including exploration.

“So many parts of our 21st Century economy depend on critical minerals that it just makes sense to bring federal policies up to date,” Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, chairman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said in a statement on the introduction.

“This bill creates a more secure domestic supply chain for critical minerals, and makes sure that our country’s national defense, high-tech jobs, energy security and advanced medical care are not held hostage by foreign suppliers.”

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