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April 28, 2011 --- Vol. 05, No. 17April 2011

Murkowski seeks input on critical minerals legislation

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, April 15 released a discussion draft of legislation designed to revitalize the nation’s critical minerals supply chain. Murkowski is asking for public comments on the draft by May 6.

“Minerals are the building blocks of our economy,” said Murkowski, ranking member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. “From rare earth elements to molybdenum, we rely on minerals for everything from the smallest computer chips to the tallest skyscrapers. This draft bill provides clear, programmatic direction to keep us competitive with foreign nations and promote a stable supply of critical minerals.”

The draft legislation directs the U.S. Geological Survey to establish a list of minerals critical to the U.S. economy and sets out a comprehensive set of policies to ensure the nation is able to meet its own mineral needs.

“With so much attention paid to our reliance on foreign oil, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that other minerals are also critical to our economy. This legislation would modernize our mineral policies to bolster domestic production, protect the environment, expand manufacturing and promote recycling,” said the senior Alaska Senator. “Every one of these areas offers significant opportunities for job creation.”

The discussion draft includes provisions related to:

• Designations – creates a process for designating minerals as critical based upon a review of potential supply restrictions and the importance of their use.

• Policy – articulates a statement of policy regarding presidential leadership on the critical minerals supply chain.

• Resources – seeks an updated assessment of critical mineral resources located in the United States, in coordination with state geologic surveys.

• Permitting – establishes a working group to review permitting, quantify delays, assess environmental protections and recommend improvements.

• Manufacturing – facilitates memoranda of agreement between states and the federal government on coordinated permitting for manufacturing facilities.

• Recycling and alternatives – authorizes research to promote the efficient use and recycling of critical minerals as well as alternatives to them.

• Analysis and forecasting – builds upon existing capabilities to provide more forward-looking analyses of critical mineral supply chain trends.

• Education and workforce – provides workforce assessments, curriculum development, worker training and associated grant authorizations.

• International cooperation – reaffirms interagency coordination to share critical mineral information and practices via diplomatic channels.

“It’s my hope that a transparent and inclusive process – designed to gather feedback from stakeholders even prior to the bill’s introduction – will lead to a common-sense bill that draws broad, bipartisan support,” Murkowski said.

Comments on the draft should be submitted with a one-page summary to [email protected] by May 6. Both general and specific comments are welcomed, as well as suggested edits to the legislative text itself. Charts, graphics or additional legislative language may also be submitted.

The draft can be found at www.murkowski.senate.gov. Contact Colin Hayes at (202) 224-4971 with any questions.

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