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Ann Bridges: U.S. Economic and National Security Vulnerability from Rare Earth Dependence

November 30, 2017

Most modern technologies, from computers, to wind turbines, electric cars, cell phones and military jets require rare earth elements: And China has a near monopoly on the market.

Most modern technologies, including computers, wind turbines, electric cars, cell phones and military jet and radar systems require rare earth elements. As Ann Bridges explains, environmental restrictions virtually foreclosed rare earth mining and processing in the U.S. and China stepped in. Now controlling more than 90 percent of the rare earth supplies and processing, China has used this control to extort political and economic concessions.

Bridges examines the critical nature of rare earths to modern economies as well as U.S. national defense. She goes on to suggest what the U.S. needs to open new markets for rare earth production and processing.

H. Sterling Burnett, Ph.D., is the Director of the Arthur B. Robinson Center on Climate and Environmental Policy and the managing editor of Environment & Climate News.