Chairs Rodgers, Duncan, and Johnson Seek Answers from Secretary Granholm Over Critical Materials from China
Dangerous Dependence on China for Critical Materials is No Longer a Hypothetical Washington D.C. — House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), Energy, Climate, and Grid Security Subcommittee Chair Jeff Duncan (R-SC), and Environment, Climate, and Grid Security Subcommittee Chair Bill Johnson (R-OH) wrote to Department of Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm regarding recent reports that China was cutting off American access to critical minerals that play a significant role in our national security, economy, and as a critical energy resource. KEY LETTER EXCERPTS: “According to reports, on August 1, 2023, China began cutting off all access to gallium and germanium, a key mineral used for military and energy technologies. On October 20, 2023, China announced that it would limit the export of raw and synthetic graphite, which is essential to manufacture electric motors and batteries. These adversarial actions by China pose a direct threat to our national security and to our energy security. “ China controls over eighty percent of the world’s gallium. Gallium is vital in our production of semiconductor chips, next-generation missile defense, and radar systems. The use of gallium in the United States has increased and is expected to continue to increase due to its use in light-emitting diodes, which are used in many technologies. Similar to gallium, germanium is vital to the development of radiation detectors, fiber optic cables, and infrared sensors. Both gallium and germanium are listed as critical, of high importance, and at risk of supply disruption. “ China controls over sixty percent of the world’s graphite and accounts for over thirty percent of graphite imports for the United States. Graphite is the largest component of the lithium-ion battery and is essential in electric vehicle (EV) battery anodes.” BACKGROUND: China controls the vast majority of the world’s processing and refining capabilities for critical minerals. These materials are vital components for technologies of the future, like semiconductors. Access to them is key to ensuring America’s competitive edge and military dominance, as well as securing our energy and manufacturing supply chains. With the passage of the Energy Act of 2020, Congress recognized the importance of critical minerals to the energy sector and provided the Department of Energy (DOE) with expanded authorities and responsibilities to address supply chain challenges and import dependencies. To assist with Energy and Commerce’s review of DOE’s statutory authorities and responsibilities—and to ensure the department is addressing the risks associated with reliance upon China for critical minerals—Members asked Secretary Granholm to respond to the following questions by December 6, 2023. Please describe any actions that DOE has already taken or plans to take to address China’s export restrictions of graphite, gallium, and germanium. Please describe the energy sector uses for graphite, gallium, and germanium. Does DOE believe that the China’s export restrictions on critical minerals will negatively impact the domestic manufacturing of batteries, EVs, or other energy technologies? What actions will DOE take to mitigate potential domestic supply shortages of these minerals? What actions has DOE taken to encourage the diversification and expansion of the supply of critical minerals? What actions has DOE taken to reduce U.S. reliance on China for critical minerals, including graphite, gallium, and germanium? What actions has DOE taken to increase the domestic production, processing, and refining of critical minerals, including graphite, gallium, and germanium? Please describe the status and implementation of Title VII of the Energy Act of 2020. CLICK HERE to read the full letter to Secretary Granholm.