NEMA Welcomes Bipartisan Introduction of Critical Minerals Policy Act

The National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) welcomed the October 29 introduction by Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-OR), Ranking Member Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Senator Mark Udall (D-CO), and Senator Dean Heller (R-NV) of legislation to update federal policy on domestic sources of and know-how related to mineral resources critical to US manufacturing industries, including many NEMA member companies. These materials include the 17 so-called “rare-earth elements,” as well as other critical materials including yttrium, scandium, cobalt, lithium and thorium.

“I commend Chairman Wyden, Ranking Member Murkowski, and Senators Udall and Heller for introducing this important legislation, the Critical Minerals Policy Act of 2013,” said NEMA President and CEO Evan R. Gaddis. “The bill specifically recognizes the importance of critical materials for many NEMA industries, including but not limited to arc welding, lighting, electric motors, superconducting wire, advanced batteries and medical imaging.”

“We look forward to working with Senators Wyden, Murkowski, Udall, Heller, and many of their colleagues to move this bill forward to passage,” Gaddis added.

As introduced, the Critical Minerals Policy Act of 2013 would authorize research and development projects at the US Department of Energy (DOE) to facilitate the more efficient production, use, and recycling of critical minerals, and to develop alternative materials that can be used to reduce the demand for critical mineral commodities. The bill would also direct DOE to conduct research and development into so-called “non-traditional sources” of rare earth elements, which could include extraction and reclamation of such materials from manufactured goods such as electronics and fluorescent lighting.

The legislation would also require the US Geological Survey and DOE to collaborate on annual reviews of domestic mineral trends, as well as forward-looking analyses of critical mineral production, consumption, and recycling patterns. The legislation would also provide for workforce assessments, curriculum development, worker training, and associated grants to academic institutions related to critical minerals; and direct the Secretaries of State and Energy to promote international cooperation and information exchange on critical mineral supply chain issues.