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Oil and natural gas aren’t just fuels. They supply building blocks for pharmaceuticals; plastics in vehicle bodies, athletic helmets and thousands of other products; and complex composites in solar panels and wind turbine blades and nacelles. The USA was importing 65% of its petroleum in 2005, creating serious national security concerns. But thanks to fracking, imports are now 40% and the US exports oil and gas.
Today’s vital raw materials foundation also includes exotic minerals like gallium, germanium, rare earth elements and platinum group metals. For the USA, they are “critical” because they are required in thousands of applications; most of them are “strategic” because they’re not produced in the United States.
Computers - Imaging - Devices - Night - Vision
They are essential for computers, medical imaging and diagnostic devices, night vision goggles, GPS and communication systems, television display panels, smart phones, jet engines, light-emitting diodes, refinery catalysts and catalytic converters, wind turbines, solar panels, long-life batteries and countless other applications. In 1954, the USA imported 100% of just eight vital minerals; in 1984, only eleven.
Today, in this technology-dominated world, the United States imports up to 100% of 35 critical materials. Twenty of them come 100% from China. Others are sourced from Russia, while some come indirectly from places where child labor, worker safety, human rights and environmental standards are nonexistent.
Situation - Sector - US - Economy - Nation
The situation is untenable and unsustainable. Literally every sector of the US economy, the nation’s defense, energy and employment base, its living standards – all are dependent on sources, supply chains and transportation routes that are vulnerable to disruption under multiple scenarios.
Recognizing this, President Trump recently issued an executive order stating that federal policies would henceforth focus on reducing these vulnerabilities, in part by requiring that government agencies coordinate in publishing an updated analysis of critical nonfuel minerals; ensuring that the private sector have electronic access to up-to-date information on...
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