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Congressman Tom Emmer

Representing the 6th District of Minnesota

Emmer Commends Secretary Zinke on Groundbreaking Order Creating First-Ever Nationwide Survey of Critical Minerals

December 21, 2017
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. –  Today Congressman Tom Emmer (MN-06) commended U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke for signing a groundbreaking secretarial order directing the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) to conduct the first nationwide geological and topographical survey of the United States in modern history. Secretary Zinke’s action followed the President’s executive order to identify new sources of critical minerals, ensure miners and producers have access to the best data, and streamline the leasing and permitting process to expedite production, reprocessing and recycling of minerals.

"I commend Secretary Zinke and the President for their work to support our miners, streamline the permitting and review process, and enhance our national defense with this important order today,” said Congressman Emmer, whose MINER Act, which passed the House last month, protects Minnesota’s right to explore and, if environmentally appropriate, mine valuable precious metals.

Emmer continued: “Minnesota, like so many states across this great nation, is fully prepared to step up and help unleash America’s full mining potential which will improve national security, add jobs, bring economic prosperity and enhance the lives of every American. Our current environmental regulations ensure that we can secure critical minerals while protecting our nation’s big, beautiful landscape, and I am glad that this administration agrees sound economic, environmental, and security policy can and should coexist."

"Right now the United States is almost completely reliant on foreign adversaries and competitors for many of the minerals that are deemed critical for our national and economic security. As both a former military commander and geologist, I know the risk this presents to our nation," said Secretary Ryan Zinke. "The problem is, we can't fix the problem if we don't know where the minerals are within our own borders. Other nations are far ahead of us with mapping of their mineral resources, leading to private sector investment overseas rather than right here at home. Drafting a complete topographical and geographic survey of the United States is exactly the kind of task the U.S.G.S. was created to do."

The United States is heavily reliant on imports of certain minerals that are vital to our national security and economic prosperity. According to a recent report from the USGS, the United States imports nearly 90 percent of the platinum, palladium and other critical elements used to make integrated circuits, computer hard drives, and catalytic converters. This dependency on foreign nations, including Russia and China, creates a strategic vulnerability for the U.S. if supplies of these key minerals were disrupted by foreign government action, natural disasters, or other events. There are several domestic deposits of these resources throughout the United States, including Minnesota which sits atop vast quantities of untapped copper, nickel, platinum, palladium and other critical minerals. Access to these reserves however has been limited by a lack of comprehensive surveys, permitting delays, and litigation concerns.

Read the full USGS report here.

Read Secretary Zinke’s Secretarial Order here.

Learn more about Emmer’s MINER Act here.

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