Thursday, April 7, 2011

Coffman introduces RESTART Act

U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CD6) Wednesday introduced legislation to restore America’s production of rare earth metals. Coffman’s bipartisan bill, H.R. 1388, the Rare Earths Supply-Chain Technology and Resources Transformation Act of 2011 (RESTART Act), would achieve this by reestablishing a domestic rare earth industry in the United States.

“Currently, the world is nearly 100 percent reliant on Chinese exports for these critical materials and China’s trade policies of restricting rare earth exports pose a serious threat to both the economic and national security of the United States,” Coffman said.

China supplies about 95 percent of the world’s rare earth metals, used in everything from wind turbines, electric car batteries, television sets, smart phones, and advanced weapons systems. Chinese officials have announced a decision to cut exports of rare earth metals by 35 percent in the first half of 2011.

“The Chinese government-ordered reduction in rare earth metals exports demonstrates the urgent need for us to act to correct our rare earth supply chain vulnerability,” Coffman said.

Coffman, who sits on the House Armed Services Committee, became alarmed in early 2009 when he learned that many U.S. defense contractors rely heavily on Chinese exports of rare earth metals to make everything from night vision goggles, tanks, and fighter aircraft, to precision guided munitions. This reliance on China poses a key vulnerability according to Coffman.

Coffman’s legislation would put in place mechanisms to assist U.S. companies with meeting their needs for rare earth metals and ensures our national security needs are met in the near term.

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