The Interior Department has identified 35 “nonfuel” mineral commodities that are essential to national security, including uranium and several others found in Utah.
Interior’s U.S. Geological Survey helped compile the list under an executive order President Donald Trump issued in December, calling for a national strategy for reducing reliance on critical minerals and promoting access to domestic supplies.
The appearance of uranium on the list, published Friday in the Federal Register, has spurred controversy among those who contend uranium does not qualify as either nonfuel or critical. Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., sent a letter Monday to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke demanding an explanation.
“Given this administration’s commitment to fighting ‘secret science,’ it is particularly hypocritical for DOI to hide the data showing how noncritical minerals (as identified by the USGS screening tool) were added to the critical minerals list,” wrote Grijalva, the ranking Democrat on the House Natural Resources Committee.
No one would blame those who don’t know many of the elements on the list, such as hafnium, gallium, rhenium and tantalum, but many are lightweight metals used in aerospace and electronics. Others are familiar metals vital to everyday life, such as aluminum, tin, magnesium and chromium.