FYI: The AIP Bulletin of Science Policy News

Physics Community Supports Amendment to Legislation on Critical Minerals

Aline D. McNaull
Number 104 - July 27, 2012  |  Search FYI  |   FYI Archives  |   Subscribe to FYI

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APS Physics, a Member society of the American Institute of Physics (AIP), worked with strategic materials producers, industry, and manufacturing organizations to draft a letter of support for critical minerals legislation.  The letter, endorsed by the AIP and the American Geophysical Union, another AIP Member Society, along with 35 other organizations, was addressed to Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) and Ranking Member Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

The organizations that signed on to the letter did so to demonstrate support for an amendment to the Critical Minerals Policy bill.  That amendment, which was originally agreed upon by Bingaman and Murkowski, strikes a balance between addressing issues in the critical minerals supply chain “from surveys and production to research and recycling” while also considering environmental concerns regarding the mining of minerals. 

The letter emphasizes that “critical minerals are essential to the clean energy, defense, agricultural, academic, electronics, financial, and medical sectors, among others. Our organizations, like you, understand the strategic importance of these materials and are committed to addressing threats to the reliability and affordability of supplies.” 

The Critical Minerals Policy bill serves to identify known mineral resources; provide quantitative and qualitative assessments of undiscovered critical mineral resources; and address exploration, development, and other uses of critical minerals.   There was potential for concern about the original bill language due to its emphasis on mining critical minerals.

The Bingaman-Murkowski amendment addresses the need for research and recycling by focusing on analytical and forecasting capabilities and the use of market dynamics as a tool to avoid supply shortages.  It also encourages environmentally responsible production of domestic resources to meet national critical materials needs while also balancing the costs of those minerals to the scientific community.  In addition, the amendment bolsters international cooperation through technology transfer and promotes mineral recycling.

The text of the letter can be found here.

Aline D. McNaull
Government Relations Division
American Institute of Physics