On Wednesday, U.S. Senator Tommy Tuberville spoke about his concern that America’s dependence on foreign countries for critical minerals that are crucial to U.S. food, energy, and military supply chains.
“The pandemic revealed America’s concerning dependence on foreign adversaries for items we used to produce here in the United States,” Tuberville said in a speech on the Senate floor. “Our military is dependent on imported tungsten, cobalt, and rare earth elements. In addition to the military, our nation’s food supply depends on imported materials for fertilizer. Our energy supply chains are dependent on imported aluminum, copper, graphite, and uranium. All of these have been listed by the U.S. Geological Survey as ‘critical minerals’ in 2018 and most recently in 2022.”
Tuberville warned that the nation’s food supply chain depends on imported materials for fertilizer, while energy producers need the same elements to produce and transport energy sources, and the military needs rare earth materials to build everything from ships to missile guidance systems. Even though the United States houses vast supplies of critical minerals waiting to be extracted, America imports 100 percent of its supply of 14 of the 35 critical minerals as defined by the Department of Interior. Many of its foreign supplies are potential adversaries with values in conflict with those of the United States, like Russia and China.
“We import 100 percent — 100 percent — of our supply of 14 of the 35 critical minerals as defined by the Department of Interior,” Tuberville explained. “That means our domestic production of these minerals is zero. Our dependence on foreign countries is growing every day. It’s putting us in a bad situation. Where are we getting our imports? Mainly from Russia, China, and their surrogates…All the while, America boasts these minerals in abundance right here in the United States. This is a disgrace.”
Tuberville argues that the U.S. should take steps to responsibly produce critical minerals from America’s vast geologic bounty.
“It’s a self-inflicted crisis…We are in a tough situation that’s getting worse every day. Instead of using what we have at home — here in the United States — we’re importing them by doing business with nations that run counter to everything that we stand for and that we value,” Tuberville continued. “We depend on these adversaries for huge amounts of our supply of minerals and materials we need to produce everything from batteries to pharmaceuticals.”
“The U.S. shuns its mineral wealth rather than wisely and responsibly produce critical minerals from America’s vast geologic bounty,” said Tuberville. “We have it all right here under our feet. It’s possible to mine critical minerals in an environmentally-responsible way, we can do that. We are the United States of America. We can do that like they do in Canada and Australia…We can protect our environment and the national interest at the same time. And the future of this country.”
Tuberville was elected to the Senate in 2020 and is a member of the Senate Armed Services, Agriculture, Veterans Affairs, and HELP Committees.