REE Bill: Senate Under Pressure


"Senate approval of legislation 'the only way to boost U.S. mining and production.'"

U.S. House Science and Technology Committee Chairman Bart Gordon said he is talking to senators in an effort to convince them to pass a measure on rare earth elements (REEs) following the Nov. 2 election.

Gordon, a Tennessee Democrat, told a conference in Washington that the only way to boost U.S. mining and production would be if the Senate clears the version of legislation passed by the House in September. To do that in the short lame-duck session would require that no senator object.

China, the source of more than 90% of the world's rare earths, announced a 72% 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.

The rare earths, a group of 17 metals including neodymium, lanthanum, cerium and europium, have industrial and national- security uses. These uses include 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 rear-earth exports by China, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said today.

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