Washington, DC – At last week’s Environment and Climate Change Subcommittee hearing, E&C Republicans stressed the importance of unleashing energy innovation to help reduce emissions, and grow our domestic energy supply chain in environmentally-friendly sources like nuclear power, renewables, and natural gas. Subcommittee members also highlighted security risks posed by rushing to renewable energy sources given their dependence on Chinese rare-earth minerals.
Read more from Inside EPA.
September 21, 2020
House Republicans say the renewable energy sector’s dependence on rare-earth minerals sourced almost exclusively from China poses a national security threat as adoption of the technologies rises, arguing that Democrats have focused too much on wind and solar power to achieve their goal of a “100 percent clean economy.”
During a Sept. 16 House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Environment and Climate Change hearing on “Building a 100 Percent Clean Economy: Opportunities for an Equitable, Low-Carbon Recovery,” GOP lawmakers pointed to testimony by Michelle Foss of Rice University’s Center for Energy Studies who said the importance of overseas supply chains is one of several “considerations” of concern in a U.S. transition to clean energy.
During the hearing, Democratic leaders underscored the urgency of tackling both the economic crisis spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic and the worsening climate change crisis through job-creating federal clean energy investments. But subcommittee Ranking Member Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL) said Foss’s testimony offered “important considerations” about battery, wind and solar supply chains that are dominated by China and thus raise “national security issues that have not received attention” thus far.
Shimkus attacked what he called a Democratic “rush to green,” saying that while cutting emissions from the power sector is a “laudable goal,” Democrats’ preference for renewables over all other options is marginalizing nuclear power as a zero-carbon energy source and could lead to “new insecurities.” He said California’s recent rolling blackouts are in part a result of those insecurities, and said he did not want the Golden State’s “green new normal” imposed on the rest of the nation.
In her testimony, Foss said …The United States is not the dominant producer of any of the 41 minerals and is among the top 10 producers for only a few, mainly basic metals, she said. Energy choices must consider “security, for our nation, energy system, and economy,” she said, noting that “supply chain security is subject to myriad risks and uncertainties.”
Furthermore, the broader category of electronic waste (e-waste) is growing, “probably exponentially, and we know that global e-waste shipments and supply chains are expanding rapidly,” she said… Adding climate to environmental security introduces “a great deal more complexity,” Foss said, noting that almost 80 percent of global capacity for lithium battery manufacturing, including for electric vehicles, “resides in China, supported by nearly 3,000 coal-fired power plants, the backbone of China’s electric power grid.
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