WASHINGTON, D.C. (July 21, 2020) – At a Senate Finance Committee hearing on Tuesday, July 21, U.S. Senator Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., said it was critical to the nation’s security and economy that it has a domestic supply of rare earth elements, which are used in electronics like computers, cameras, and military equipment.
While Wyoming is home to some of the highest-grade rare earth deposits in North America, the state does not have any operating rare earth mines, and America continues to rely on China for 80 percent of its rare earth imports.
“Right now the problem for the United States is that China has a stranglehold on the supply chain that makes it difficult to utilize the deposits we have here,” Enzi said. “I have made it my goal to see that the supply chain for rare earths, from the mining to the refining, is done right here in this country – and better yet, in the State of Wyoming.”
Enzi sought assurance from Michael Nemelka, who was nominated to be a Deputy United States Trade Representative, that America can reduce its dependence on China and find ways to use trade to foster a domestic industry.
“I’m from Utah, which is next door to Wyoming, and I’m aware of the rare earth deposits that are in Wyoming and other Western states and how important it is to develop those industries. You do have my commitment to make that a priority,” Nemelka said. “I think it’s going to take a government-wide, interagency effort on this – not just trade, but across the government.”
Enzi also secured commitments from Nemelka to protect America’s intellectual property and domestic agriculture in ongoing negotiations with China and other countries.