This week, House Committee on Natural Resources Ranking Member Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.) led a letter signed by members of the House Committee on Natural Resources to Department of the Interior (DOI) Secretary Deb Haaland urging DOI to consider the impacts of current international crises on mineral supply chains as it develops the upcoming 2022 Final List of Critical Minerals in light of continuing unrest in Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan. In part, the members wrote:

“As you know, the Energy Act of 2020 (later included in Public Law No: 116-260) defines a “critical mineral” as a resource “the supply chain of which is vulnerable to disruption (including restrictions associated with foreign political risk, abrupt demand growth, military conflict, violent unrest, anti-competitive or protectionist behaviors, and other risks through-out the supply chain),” in addition to other qualifications. This makes the risk of supply chain disruptions a required consideration when evaluating minerals to include on DOI’s List of Critical Minerals.

“The 2021 Draft List of Critical Minerals was released on November 9, 2021, months before the period of elevated unrest involving Russia, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan. Unfortunately, the growing instability in the region and the Biden administration’s confused response to these crises have increased uncertainty for a number of mineral supply chains. Resources listed as “critical” on the draft list are known to have insecure supply chains, by definition, but this recent unrest has also greatly affected resources that were not listed, such as helium and uranium.”

The letter continues:

“The lukewarm response from this administration regarding Russia’s menacing behavior has been too slow and insufficient to mount a strong deterrent. Secretary Blinken may have threatened “a swift, a severe and a united response” should Russia invade Ukraine, but without an administration-wide willingness to address this challenge on every front, these strong words will remain hollow. By not using every tool at its disposal to bolster domestic mineral production, this administration is passively enabling our continued reliance on Russia and other adversaries for helium, uranium, and other mineral resources.”

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