Rare earth elements and the struggle for energy independence

The gasoline shortages of the 1970s and 1980s were created by trade embargoes and political upheaval in the small handful of countries responsible for the vast majority of global oil production.

Since that time, the US. has fought several wars in the Middle East and provided tremendous sums of foreign aid in its perpetual struggle to ensure a reliable supply of oil for U.S. consumers.

Unfortunately, there’s the potential to re-create the energy security problems of yesteryear with materials relied upon for today’s technology.

Rare earth elements like neodymium, shown here, power some of the most crucial tech of today. Failure to understand the U.S.’s reliance on rare earth elements obtained from China and to make needed policy adjustments could land us with the same energy security challenges the U.S. experiences with oil dependence.

Rare earth elements are vital components in computers, satellites, medical devices, cellphones, hybrid vehicles, batteries, lasers, steel production, clean energy and many other instruments used every day by Americans.

Without REEs, these devices do not work. They don’t send the information or power the machine. And China has become the largest producer of rare earth elements in the world.

China maintains a strong monopoly in the global marketplace.

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