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Letter to the Editor: Commerce misses mark on strategic raw materials

Keywords: Tags  Letter to the Editor, Commerce Department, strategoc materials, rare earths, Dean Popps, Strategic Materials Advisory Council


To the Editor:

The White House’s new initiative, titled a National Strategy for Global Supply Chain Security, recently took small steps forward with a roundtable—sponsored by the Commerce Department and White House National Science and Technology Council—on the important topic of the strategic materials needed by our nation in its supply chain in times of peace and war.

Our nation’s supply chain contains routine items, such as infant formula, as well as exotic items like rare earths, which are metals or elements necessary for the manufacturing of a variety of products, to include smartphones, hybrid cars and sophisticated weapons platforms.

The roundtable made a serious omission by not including the U.S.-based producers of strategic materials in this conference. These domestic producers mine, separate and make the metals and alloys that are so critical to our survival as an economic power.

The result was a discussion held only at the level of the end-user, mostly the multinational user, of these alloys. The roundtable was curiously silent as to the need to protect and foster the most important part of the strategic supply chain—namely, this country’s domestic producers.

The security of this nation’s supply chain is at a critical juncture. We can ill afford to allow the multinational corporations, who are frequently pressured by the foreign policy and military interests of the nations with whom they regularly deal, to make the case to the administration that it doesn’t matter where we get our materials from; when we need them, we will buy them on the open market.

History is replete with examples that it does matter very much where these materials come from and from whom and under what conditions. Just ask the losers of most wars.

U.S. producers are at the very epicenter of this conversation and must be included if a true national strategy is to be developed and successfully implemented.

DEAN G. POPPS
Co-chair, Strategic Materials Advisory Council


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