June 15, 2022

Manchin, Ernst Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Boost U.S. Critical Minerals Supply, Protect National Security

Washington, DC – U.S. Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Joni Ernst (R-IA), members of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC), introduced the bipartisan Homeland Acceleration of Recovering Deposits and Renewing Onshore Critical Keystones (HARD ROCK) Act to boost the United States’ supply of critical minerals. The legislation would bolster the National Defense Stockpile (NDS) to ensure access to the strategic and critical materials needed to meet modern national security demands and urge the Pentagon to work with American allies to protect global access to these minerals.

“America is blessed with an abundance of natural resources that can help us address our reliance on foreign supply chains for critical minerals. I am proud to introduce our bipartisan HARD ROCK Act which would strengthen U.S. critical mineral infrastructure and invest in domestic defense and technological capabilities,” said Senator Manchin, Chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. “By addressing the weaknesses in our current National Defense Stockpile, our bill will bolster American critical mineral independence and help ensure we have the resources we need for essential defense products and services. I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to support this crucial legislation.”

“America’s defense in the modern era increasingly demands the use of critical minerals, making it more essential by the day for our nation to have a sufficient stockpile of and reliable access to these materials,” said Senator Ernst, a combat Veteran. “At this very moment, our enemies like China dominate the supply chain of these increasingly vital materials, and are even expanding into regions such as Africa and Afghanistan, threatening our readiness in an emergency situation and jeopardizing our national security. It’s past time we take seriously the risk we face if we fail to make important investments in securing critical and strategic minerals immediately, which is why I’m pleased to partner with Senator Manchin to do exactly that.”

The Department of Defense (DoD) is required to maintain a stockpile of critical and strategic materials known as the National Defense Stockpile (NDS). In times of war or national emergencies, it is used to provide defense and essential civilian manufacturers with immediate access to the raw materials required to produce such goods. For certain strategic and critical minerals, the United States is currently insufficiently prepared to meet military and essential civilian needs. According to the United States Geological Survey, in 2021 the U.S. was 100 percent import-reliant on 14 minerals on the critical minerals list and more than 75 percent import-reliant on 10 additional critical minerals.

The HARD ROCK Act allows the NDS manager to acquire an updated list of strategic and critical minerals that reflects modern national defense needs. Additionally, it requires DoD to examine potential updates of statutory authority to collaborate with United States partners and allies to ensure stable access to these critical and strategic materials globally.

Senators Manchin and Ernst were joined by Senators Steve Daines (R-MT), Gary Peters (D-MI), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Angus King (I-ME) and Rick Scott (R-FL).