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We successfully turned around our dependence on foreign oil and gas to become a major exporter. It’s time we did the same with the minerals critical to our national security and standard of living.
“I, DONALD J. TRUMP, President of the United States of America, find that a strong America cannot be dependent on imports from foreign adversaries for the critical minerals that are increasingly necessary to maintain our economic and military strength in the 21st century.”
So begins President Trump’s “Executive Order on Addressing the Threat to the Domestic Supply Chain from Reliance on Critical Minerals from Foreign Adversaries.” In this document, Executive Order 13953 issued on September 30, Trump lays out the emergency clearly:
“I therefore determine that our Nation’s undue reliance on critical minerals, in processed or unprocessed form, from foreign adversaries constitutes an unusual and extraordinary threat, which has its source in substantial part outside the United States, to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States. I hereby declare a national emergency to deal with that threat.”
“We advise the U.S. side not to underestimate the Chinese side’s ability to safeguard its development rights and interests. Don’t say we didn’t warn you!… Will rare earths become a counter weapon for China to hit back against the pressure the United States has put on for no reason at all? The answer is no mystery.”
The sentence, “Don’t say we didn’t warn you,” has historical significance for China. The People’s Daily used it before the country’s border war with India in 1962 and before the China-Vietnam War in 1979.
The reliance on China for so much of our rare earths was exacerbated during the Obama administration. The following graph shows how U.S. production of rare earths dropped to zero by the end of Barack Obama’s second term. Only now, under President Trump, are we starting to see a recovery.
It would not be unjustified for President Trump to claim that Obama and former Vice President Joe Biden were principle architects of the national emergency America now finds itself facing.
The constraints to reversing America’s prowess as a great mining country are primarily the anti-mining policies of the left, deeply rooted in federal politics. Federal lands in Montana, Colorado, Wyoming and the Dakotas contain the bulk of our mineral resources. Trump has been working to correct the mistakes of previous administrations ever since the very first year of his presidency when he issued the pro-mining Executive Order 13817, “A Federal Strategy To Ensure Secure and Reliable Supplies of Critical Minerals”. Indeed, it was the review that came out of this 2017 EO that sparked the new EO issued last week.
Some critical minerals will always have to be imported, but we must recommit to use our domestic minerals according to principles of good stewardship. This can be our best countermeasure to the instability of the international supply chain for key minerals important to our economy and national defense. It will also bring 2 million jobs home.
We must give President Trump a second mandate to safeguard our national security and our standard of living.
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