Friday, April 06, 2012

A Romney Rare Earth Task Force?

There is oil in the Middle East. There is rare earth in China.
-Deng Xiaoping, Paramount Leader of the People's Republic of China from 1978 to 1992.

Foreign Confidential™ has learned that the U.S. Republican Party's presumed Presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, is considering taking a page from Ronald Reagan's "Resource War" playbook.

During his 1980 race for the White House, Reagan emphasized the importance of decreasing U.S. dependence on foreign mineral sources. His supporters, including mining executives who would later be named to a Strategic Minerals Task Force after Reagan's landslide victory over the (anti-oil, anti-mining) Democratic incumbent, Jimmy Carter, argued that many of these minerals could be provided by domestic production but for overly zealous federal regulations and environmental restrictions. The miners warned that the United States could eventually be engulfed in "resource wars" with the Soviet Union and other nations.

Romney, sources say, is likely to promise to appoint a similar task force for the purpose of loosening China's grip on rare earth minerals. The U.S. is entirely dependent on China for rare earth minerals, which are critical for military weapons, solar power, electric hybrid cars, wind turbines, computer monitors, plasma televisions, smartphones, smart bombs, global positioning, guidance and control systems--you name it in the fields of communications, electronics, defense, and renewable energy.

China has a monopoly on the global supply and production of rare earths and accounts for 97% of the rare earth metals market, even though China contains no more than 30% of the world’s rare earths. The U.S. has abundant rare earth resources--rare earth is a historical misnomer, meaning rare earths are not so rare--but an anti-mining mentality is obstructing U.S. development, mining proponents say, noting that it typically takes a new mine an astounding seven to 10 years to begin production because of Environmental Protection Agency regulations.