China’s Mineral Dominance Threatens America’s Renewable Energy Goals
Calls for Americans to switch to renewable energy sources have the Chinese Communist Party seeing green – and not because they care about the planet.
A large-scale transition to wind power, solar power, electric vehicles, and other carbon-neutral products will pump even more American cash into China because of the region’s dominance of rare earth minerals.
According to a report from CNN’s Fareed Zakaria, China extracts more than half of the world’s rare Earth metals and processes almost all rare earth minerals. Additionally, China extracts more than half the world’s graphite – a key material in solar panels – and dominates the production of cobalt, lithium, copper, and nickel.
During a segment on Sunday, Zakaria explained that environmentalists have been opposing the mining and processing of these minerals in the United States because of the environmental hazards that can accompany the process. But Zakaria argued that processing these minerals in the United States will be essential in protecting the planet.
Today's last look: Want to stop relying on authoritarian regimes like Russia's for oil & gas?
Green energy sounds like an easy answer.
But it means relying on China & other countries for the rare minerals used to make batteries, wind turbines, etc. pic.twitter.com/rBcQmnWmWE
— Fareed Zakaria (@FareedZakaria) May 1, 2022
“There are real environmental hazards, but if people want to protect the planet from climate change and authoritarian powers, they will have to get on board with new mineral projects,” Zakaria said. “Even the ocean floor cannot be off-limits.”
Zakaria noted that recycling environmental products – including photic cells and batteries – can help reduce demand for new minerals but not at the rate needed to match demand.
Zakaria pointed to the situation in Ukraine and explained that Europe is suffering the consequences of over-reliance on authoritarian Russia for natural gas. He warned that the United States could face the same fate with China if it is not cautious.
“The West is waking up. This problem, last year’s bipartisan infrastructure bill allocated several billion dollars to the production and recycling of critical minerals in the US. It also moved to cut red tape for mining on federal land,” Zakaria said.
“Recently, President Biden invoked the Defense Production Act to unlock more funds for mineral projects, though his regulators have also stood in the way of some mines. This will have to remain a priority for years and years to come. For the sake of the planet and international security, we will need to dig deep, quite literally,” he added.
Rare earth minerals are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to China’s dominance over America’s supply chain. From pharmaceuticals to military supplies, the United States is dangerously reliant upon the Chinese Communist Party.
America must regain control of its supply chain if it wants to protect itself – or the planet.