Swalwell Introduces Bill to Protect Energy Security

September 24, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC —Today, Rep. Eric Swalwell (CA-15) introduced the Securing Energy Critical Elements and American Jobs Act to help the United States develop the technical expertise and production capabilities to assure a long-term, secure and sustainable supply of energy critical elements (ECEs).

ECEs are crucial for manufacturing a variety of advanced technologies, including cell phones, laptops, jet engines, gas and wind turbines, nuclear reactors, solar panels and more. A shortage of these elements could significantly impede Americans’ ability to afford and use these important technologies and would hurt both our global competitiveness and national security. A reliable domestic supply of ECEs, including rare earth elements (REEs), will be crucial for long-term success and growth. Unfortunately, the United States is currently import-dependent on many of these ECEs.

“Ensuring a reliable, responsible and stable supply of energy critical elements is vital to our national, energy and economic security,” said Swalwell. “Most energy critical elements may not have household names, but the products they create do. If we want to keep leading the world in technological advancement and create more American jobs, we must secure these energy critical elements and their production.”

China now produces 80 percent of the world’s REEs supply and 75 percent of permanent magnets containing REEs. In 2010, China temporarily cut off rare earth supplies to Japan, the European Union, and the United States – highlighting the potential consequences to the United States for relying so heavily upon China for these assets.

In 2013, the Department of Energy (DOE) established a limited-term Critical Materials Institute to help ensure a reliable supply of these elements, but neither this institute nor an underlying, ongoing ECEs research program have ever been properly authorized. The Securing Energy Critical Elements and American Jobs Act would prevent the DOE from discontinuing this work by requiring in permanent law, and it would add improvements to the department’s current program.

Specifically, the bill would reinvigorate research and development on energy critical materials in order to use them more effectively, and would seek methods to substitute and recycle critical materials by: 

  • promoting collaboration and research opportunities in the field of ECEs for researchers and students from DOE laboratories, industry, and institutions of higher education;
  • directing the coordination of federal agencies to promote a stable supply of ECEs;
  • requiring DOE to develop and update a strategic plan every two years for how it intends to carry out the ECEs program established by the bill; and
  • creating a Critical Materials Information Center within DOE to serve as a central repository for its ECE efforts.

For full text of the bill click here.