Hill Should Not Rush on Rare Earths

Hill Should Not Rush on Rare Earths

Congress should not require the Pentagon to create a stockpile of rare earth minerals because companies will adjust their behavior to the international marketplace, a group of experts said today.

“The sky is not falling. Contrary to what you are reading in some newspapers and articles we are not going to run out of anything any time soon,” said MIT professor Robert Jaffe. And greatly increasing US production of the 17 rare earth minerals is not the answer either, he said. “Mine baby, mine is not the solution.”

Jaffe was speaking primarily from the perspective of an expert in rare earths, their production and uses. A Heritage Foundation economist on the panel, Derek Scissors, said “there is no need for a stockpile. This falls exactly into the terrain that the government should not get into.”

However, Jaffe and Scissors said some basic research aimed at developing alternatives to the rare earths might be useful if the research was truly basic and did not bleed over into applied research.

The experts appeared to discuss whether Congress should act on rare earths. Last September, the House passed the Rare Earths and Critical Materials Revitalization Act of 2010 overwhelmingly, 325 to 98. Their basic conclusion was that the Hill should leave things alone, except for carefully targeted basic research funding to find alternatives to the rare earths.

Scissor agreed that China dominates current production and “can’t be trusted as a supplier. But he said rare earths largely came into use because they were cheap. “They weren’t indispensable 10 years ago. They won’t be in another 10 years.” China, acting as a mercantilist economic power, will continue to raise prices and squeeze supply. And that will drive companies and governments to recycle, find new allows and other ways to avoid using the rare earths that China controls.

“Now they are going to raise the prices and we are going to use less rare earths,” he said.

Following are some of the key defense uses for rare earth minerals, drawn from a paper by James B. Hedrick, titled: Rare Earths in Selected U.S defense Applications:


Precision Guided Munitions use samarium-cobalt permanent magnet motors to control the fins.

Tanks and other vehicles use rare-earth lasers for range finding.

The main US system for detect of underwater mines uses a rare-earth laser system.

Satellites use wave tubes and klystrons that rely on rare earth metals.

Military aircraft use samarium-cobalt magnets to help generate electricity for electrical systems. In addition, small high-powered rare-earth magnet actuators are

The hot sections of aircraft engines rely on super-hard allows that use rare earth elements.

Radars rely on rare-earth magnets (often samarium-cobalt), to focus microwave energy.

High-powered sonar uses Terfenol-D rare-earth alloy.

Join the Conversation

True that the chicomms cannot be trusted.

Barry is dismantling the military so what do we need rare earth elements for anyway?

More back room BS. It is a fact that there is more Oil in the US than the rest of the world combined, that the oil just under the dakotas could supply the US current needs for 2040 years. Congress lap dog the EPA refuses to allow the building of any new refineries which is why what we buy from overseas is refined fuels and not crude, we sell our crude here because we cannot refine it ourselves in sufficient quantities to not have to buy from other countries. We have abundance of other so called rare minnerals as well but not allowed to harvest them because of the EPA and govt back room deals. The EPA needs to be shut down and congress made to stand tall and answer up to all the lies and deciet.

More blind faith in the market.

Where did you here that.…2040 years!?

Abolish the EPA? Really?

Corporations have always shown a willingness to police themselves and place the public welfare ahead of profits?

Lead paint won’t hurt you so long as you do not ingest it while your brain is still developing.

Malignant mesothelioma is just Nature’s way of telling you to slow down and smell the roses while you can still breathe.

Smog is a wonderful way to focus your attention on nearby objects by blocking out the horizon.

Raw sewage dumped into a stream is the most efficient way to promote algae growth and don’t we all just love to look at a lake covered in a carpet of bright green algae?

Being able to trust the tap water for drinking is so old fashioned: smart people buy bottled water imported from Europe at $6 a gallon.

He probably means until the year 2040.

In fairness US oil production is 60% higher now than it was during the previous administration. Really though I don’t mind if our government says “no drilling” because as an untapped resource it is a reserve and in the hypothetical worst case scenario where the oil supplying nations cut off supply or run out, we will still have it available to us.

I wouldn’t call it blind faith, since the Japanese have been actively researching rare-earth alternatives with a number of very promissing inovations. That’s in the pipe and they’re a little screwed over right now, but it shows something can be done.

No its from an internal govt report from the USGS, I know a guy on the inside (old military buddy) that was part of the survey. Also the federal EPA doesnt do as much as folks think, but they do drive away business — many companies along the US Mex border relocated south because of EPA restrictions and fines but guess what — the pollutants still blow across TX, AZ, CA 10 months out of the year and still effect the ozone 12 months out of the year, so tell me what the EPA did other than cost tens of thousands of jobs lost in the US.

Almost forgot — it is 2040 yrs not the year, and thats not counting all the west Texas sweet barely being touched, the Alaska marsh, Colorado shell, WY sweet and others found recently — if we built 20 new refineries not only would we be 100% self sufficient it qould provide numerous needed jobs, lets also not forget that while we are not drilling in the gulf with numerous oil deposits that China — Russia — and Venuzuela is with less regards to our enviroment than we have.

The magnet industry and academia have been researching alternatives since the early 1980s. Currently, there is nothing that will be put into production for 5–10 years. Will research eventually come up with an alternative to rare earths? Most likely. But wishing away a communist country monopoly by merely hoping that we’re saved with something new is foolhardy by any standard.

A truly untapped resource is a reserve. However, if we shift focus to the gulf, that isn’t an untapped resource. Any bit that extends in to international waters can be tapped by anyone who wants it. If we’re going to take that view, the gulf needs to be sucked dry as fast as possible.

Can you post a link to the report? I’d love to read it.

“oil just under the dakotas could supply the US current needs for 2040 years”

You’re obviously referring to the Bakken Formation that has been drill on since the 1950s and a myriad of drilling companies are exacting from now. http://​www​.usgs​.gov/​f​a​q​/​i​n​d​e​x​.​p​h​p​?​a​c​t​i​o​n​=​s​h​o​w​&​a​m​p​;​amp

“we buy from overseas is refined fuels and not crude”

United States refineries produced over 90 percent of the gasoline used in the United States. Less than 40 percent of the crude oil used by U.S. refineries was produced in the United States.
Source: http://​www​.eia​.doe​.gov/​n​e​i​c​/​e​x​p​e​r​t​s​/​c​o​n​t​a​c​t​e​x​p​ert… I agree we do have a refining capacity problem, but it does not have the effect you state, we do refine our crude here. The limits on refineries affects prices and our over all capacity to refine the imported crude we buy, but not our ability to refine our own oil. Here is a link to an article on the effects of limitations on refineries. http://​www​.ncpa​.org/​p​u​b​/​b​a​603

Your statements seem to be speculative exaggeration rather than factual.

Actualy what I said was we cant refine all the crude we drill here because of a lack of refineries and we export a lot of crude, we also buy a lot of refined fuels from over seas because of our lack of refineries. I live in the belt — lots of roughneck neighbors and relatives — also worked as a govt port inspector so I have seen what comes in vs going out. I also worked at oil refineries during the first fake fuel crunch, we had to shut down because we had no place left to store fuel, even had fuel stored on barges and ships in the Houston ship channel while the govt claimed we were short and started rationing and price gouging — Dont believe everything — especialy anything you see on a govt web site. Just as they say what they think you want to hear is also how they publish.

I’m not sure what a discussion of oil reserves has to do with an article about rare earth materials.
But it seems that any materials that are not found in this country and cannot be replaced in the
short term, should be stock piled by the government to avoid shortages due to cutoffs of supply.
A stock pile is not the complete answer but can give industry the time to develop replacements
if the supply is permanently cut.

We export Alaska crude to Japan and in payment, they import N Sea and Middle East crude to our refineries on the East and Gulf coasts. This arrangement elimanates the need for a West to East pipeline and saves Japan transportation costs.

refineries,refineries,refineries.RaMP UP.dRILL aLASKA


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