A new Aspen Institute report signals bipartisan support for critical minerals policy in the United States.
Contact: Clarke Williams
Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University
Washington, D.C., June 20, 2023—Today, the Aspen Institute Energy & Environment Program announced the release of a comprehensive report on securing a resilient critical mineral supply chain for the United States. The report, “A Critical Minerals Policy for the United States,” highlights key findings from a task force of experts convened over the last year and a half and presents a strategic roadmap and several recommendations for the U.S. Congress.
To address the need for a robust critical mineral supply chain, the Aspen Institute convened a bipartisan task force of experts from industry, academia, and the government. Co-chaired by Jason Bordoff, Founding Director of the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, and Meghan O’Sullivan, incoming Director of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at the Harvard Kennedy School, the task force’s efforts were further supported by 37 subject matter experts, including former Senator Heidi Heitkamp, Congressman Greg Walden, and ClearPath CEO Rich Powell.
“To implement the recent landmark laws, the Inflation Reduction Act and Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the country needs a clean energy policy that includes sustainable and equitable access to critical minerals to ensure a swift and just transition,” said Greg Gershuny, Executive Director of the Aspen Institute Energy & Environment Program. “The Aspen Institute was excited to convene leaders from across the country to build these consensus recommendations and expand the possibilities for the United States’ to lead the world in the clean energy transition.”
“The geopolitical competition between the United States and China, alongside the urgency of the energy transition, have made responsible and sustainable access to critical minerals a pressing priority,” said Meghan L. O’Sullivan, a professor at Harvard who also served as a Deputy National Security Advisor under President George W. Bush. “As we navigate the challenges presented by accelerating the clean energy transition, we urge policymakers to consider the role of Tribal Nations, greater international collaboration, and targeted policy interventions in creating a bipartisan roadmap for the United States to meet its critical mineral needs.”
“Ensuring a smooth energy transition requires us to effectively handle supply chain risks and address geopolitical competition for critical minerals,” said Jason Bordoff, who previously served as Special Assistant to President Barack Obama and Senior Director for Energy and Climate Change at the National Security Council. “Securing these resources is critical for national, economic, and environmental security, as well as long term stability and sustainability.”
The United States currently faces a rapidly shifting global environment that increasingly places strategic importance on responsible and resilient access to critical minerals. These minerals—which are essential inputs to a wide range of applications ranging from clean energy technologies to advanced defense systems—will continue to increase in importance over the coming decades.
There is an urgent need for policymakers to define a coordinated critical minerals strategy for the United States. The report identifies several risks presented by the current critical minerals supply chain and recommends 11 key domestic and foreign policy pathways for Congress to create a sustainable and resilient supply chain for critical minerals without the climate or the American economy:
- Streamline permitting by utilizing a place-based approach and setting strict timelines on adjudication.
- Clarify and endorse the concept of Free, Prior, and Informed Consent, making clear that it should be received from Tribal Nations directly impacted by critical minerals development.
- Endorse and further facilitate the ability of Tribal Nations to obtain equity in critical mineral projects.
- Increase funding for the National Defense Stockpile, enabling it to effectively fulfill its mandate for defense and security.
- Expand funding for R&D and for risk capital, and undertake regulatory reform to promote substitution of alternatives, demand reduction, and recycling of critical minerals.
- Implement a grant program for accredited mining programs in the United States and should earmark a certain proportion of funds for recruitment initiatives.
- Resist reliance on Buy America provisions when crafting legislation related to critical minerals and seek to develop alternative international agreements to meet domestic needs.
- Work with federal agencies and international allies to establish clear standards for foreign mining projects that qualify for support.
- Increase funding for the Development Finance Corporation and provide it with an expanded authority, and priority, to invest in critical mineral projects abroad.
- Facilitate bilateral and multilateral frameworks that increase critical-mineral supply-chain coordination and support the negotiation and passage of bilateral and multilateral trade agreements.
- Establish and fund a structure to improve demand projections and increase price transparency.
The full report and executive summary are available for download on the Aspen Institute’s website here.
About the Aspen Institute Energy & Environment Program and Aspen Institute
The Aspen Institute is a global nonprofit organization committed to realizing a free, just, and equitable society. Since its founding in 1949, the Institute has been driving change through dialogue, leadership, and action to help solve the most critical challenges facing communities in the United States and around the world. The Aspen Institute Energy and Environment Program (EEP) explores significant challenges with diverse thinkers and doers to make a more prosperous, equitable, and sustainable society for all. We address critical energy, environmental, and climate change issues through non-partisan, non-ideological convening, with the specific intent of bringing together diverse stakeholders to improve the process and progress of policy-level dialogue. This enables EEP to sit at a critical intersection in the conversation and bring together diverse groups of expert stakeholders. To learn more visit www.aspeninstitute.org/ee or follow @AIEnvironment on Twitter.