As the new year and a new Congress begin, we have an opportunity to set our nation on a course toward energy independence and future prosperity. During my time in Congress, I have grown deeply concerned about the fact that the United States is far too reliant on unfriendly foreign nations for the resources we need to fuel our economy. This dependence puts our economy and our national security at risk. We all felt the impact of our dependence on foreign energy sources this past year, as gas prices fluctuated wildly and the cost of groceries and household goods grew ever more expensive. But our reliance on unfriendly governments for the critical minerals we need to power modern technologies is also a huge crisis just waiting in the wings. We can and should be producing these crucial resources domestically, but the restrictions and lengthy delays currently in place in the permitting process make it nearly impossible to access our domestic supply of critical minerals. It is time to take control over something as fundamental to our economy and national security as critical mineral production.
Critical minerals, such as antimony and cobalt, are crucial for our national defense, the development of new technologies, and the batteries we use in our cell phones and laptops. Instead of developing them at home, we depend completely on sourcing them from places like Russia and China. These countries could, at any time, cut off the critical mineral supply pipeline to the U.S., leaving us without the essential technologies we rely on in our everyday lives and jeopardizing our national security.
It sounds ominous, this dangerous reliance on unfriendly foreign nations for resources we depend on every day—and for good reason. But we can take back control of this situation. These minerals are found in the United States, on our own public lands—in fact, Idaho is rich in both cobalt and antimony—and we have the capability to mine them in sophisticated and environmentally responsible ways. Now we need to get out of our own way by streamlining the permitting process that would allow domestic production of critical minerals to begin.