H.R. 6160: Rare Earths and Critical Materials Revitalization Act

H.R. 6160

Rare Earths and Critical Materials Revitalization Act

Date
September 28, 2010 (111th Congress, 2nd Session)

Staff Contact
Communications

Floor Situation

H.R. 6160 is expected to be considered on the House floor on Wednesday, September 29, 2010, under a suspension of the rules, requiring a two-thirds majority vote for passage.  This legislation was introduced by Rep. Kathleen Dahlkemper (D-PA) on September 22, 2010. 

Bill Summary

The bill would establish a program within the Department of Energy to research and develop advancing technology to assure the long-term, secure, and sustainable supply of rare earth materials sufficient to satisfy the national security, economic well-being, and industrial production needs of the U.S.

The bill would require the Department of Energy to establish a program to research, develop, demonstrate, and enhance the commercial application of rare earth materials for the nation’s security, economic, and industrial needs.  (Rare earth materials would include the following chemical elements:  scandium, yttrium, lanthanum, cerium, praseodymium, neodymium, promethium, samarium, europium, gadolinium, terbium, dysprosium, holmium, erbium, thulium, ytterbium, and lutetium).

The program would authorize the Department of Energy to better characterize and quantify stocks of rare earth materials using theoretical geochemical research, discover rare materials using advanced science and technology, improve methods for extraction, and identify and test alternative materials that can be substituted for rare earth materials.

The bill would authorize to be appropriated to the Secretary of Energy the following sums:

  • $10,000,000 for fiscal year 2011
  • $15,000,000 for fiscal year 2012
  • $15,000,000 for fiscal year 2013
  • $15,000,000 for fiscal year 2014
  • $15,000,000 for fiscal year 2015

Lastly, the bill would allow the Department of Energy to make loan guarantees for the commercial application of new or improved technologies for the separation, recovery, or application of rare earth materials. Loan guarantees could be approved for the application of rare earth materials in the production of improved magnets, batteries, refrigeration systems, optical systems, electronics, and catalysis.  The authority to enter into guarantees would expire September 30, 2015. 

Possible Member Concerns:  This bill would increase spending, and provide taxpayer subsidized loans to private companies that are associated with the commercial use of rare earth matierals.

Background

According to the Science and Technology Committee, China currently holds control of approximately 90-97 percent of the world’s supply of rare earth materials.  China has imposed export quotas on many of these rare earth materials in 2006, and has consistently increased those quotas since then.

Cost

There is currently no CBO score for H.R. 6160.