Senate Approves Sullivan Motion to Ban Taxpayer Dollars from Funding Forced-Labor-Sourced Minerals, Technology

WASHINGTON—The U.S. Senate today approved a motion offered by Senator Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) instructing the conferees for the United States Innovation and Competition Act of 2022 (USICA) and the America COMPETES Act to include language prohibiting new renewable energy projects receiving federal funds from purchasing materials, technology or critical minerals sourced in the People’s Republic of China or the Russian Federation. Sullivan offered the motion to ensure the United States has a robust, secure supply chain that doesn’t rely on forced labor, while strengthening the nation’s economy and security.

“As recently as the early 1980s, our nation produced the vast majority of the critical minerals and renewable energy technologies we use in America, but not anymore,” said Sen. Sullivan. “Unfortunately, Russia and China now have a stranglehold on most of these critical minerals and the clean energy technologies that our nation needs. To make matters worse, some of these critical minerals and materials we are importing—like solar panels and E.V. batteries—are processed and manufactured in China using forced labor and some of the worst environmental standards in the world. We can change this. We must change this. My motion to instruct is simple: Any renewable energy project receiving federal funds cannot use materials, technologies, or critical minerals from China or Russia. Simple, commonsense, humane, and in the interest of America’s workers and our national defense." 

In February, the Department of the Interior announced a list of 50 identified critical minerals. In 2020, the United States was 100 percent import-reliant for 17 of these minerals and more than 75 percent reliant for another 23, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Of the 64 elements analyzed by the USGS, China was the leading source of imports for 20 of them, including rare earths.

In March, President Biden announced he would invoke the Defense Production Act to facilitate the production of critical minerals necessary for a massive shift to renewables and electric vehicles (EVs). However, the administration and congressional Democrats have been working to undermine domestic production. Last summer, Democrats proposed legislation that would block a mining project in Arizona that could reportedly supply one-quarter of the copper needed by the United States. The Biden Interior Department also canceled two mineral leases for nickel and copper projects in Minnesota in January and, in February, took action to block a road project to the Ambler Mining District in Alaska. 

# # #