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Deep-Sea Mining Bill Introduced in House

House legislators this week introduced a measure to bolster American deep-sea mining, according to The Wall Street Journal (subscription).

What’s going on: “The Responsible Use of Seafloor Resources Act of 2024, which is sponsored by Rep. Carol Miller (R., W.Va.) and Rep. John Joyce (R., Pa.), pushes for federal agencies to ‘provide financial, diplomatic or other forms of support for seafloor nodule collection, processing and refining where upstream sourcing is compliant with regulations.’”

  • Many of the critical minerals needed for electric vehicles—such as nickel, cobalt and copper—can be found in large concentrations on the ocean floor, often in “seafloor nodules,” small rocks containing the minerals.
  • China dominates the global critical minerals market, producing some 60% of all the rare earth elements needed for alternative-energy technologies and refining some 85%.

Why it’s important: “The United States should not be beholden to China for critical minerals,” Rep. Miller told the Journal, adding that the bill “will significantly reduce supply chain vulnerabilities and bolster American manufacturing and jobs, while combating Chinese production of critical minerals.”

What’s in it: The draft legislation calls for the Department of Commerce to create a report for submission to the president and Congress detailing current laws “pertaining to sourcing seafloor products from outside U.S. waters and details on how a tariff system would work.”

  • It also calls on the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy to conduct an analysis of seafloor-nodule importing and processing, as well as an analysis to determine “whether deep-sea mining is possible in U.S. waters.”

Rep. Latta, NAM talk energy strategy: Critical minerals were part of the “all-of-the-above energy strategy” the NAM discussed with Rep. Bob Latta (R-OH), a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, at a meeting this week.

  • “Thank you to [the NAM] for hosting me to discuss how [the House Energy and Commerce Committee] is prioritizing an all-of-the-above energy strategy that supports our manufacturing industry in Ohio and across America,” Rep. Latta wrote in a social post.

The final say: “Critical minerals are vital to modern-day life,” said NAM Vice President of Domestic Policy Brandon Farris. “The NAM continues to urge Congress to unlock domestic sources of critical minerals and comprehensively reform our broken permitting system.”

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