By Paul Driessen and Dr. Ned Mamula
The United States is also beholden to China for metals and minerals in energy, aerospace, defense, telecom and other industries. Joe Biden, AOC, Democrats and environmentalist groups would not just shut down fossil fuel production, pipelines and fuels for power generation and manufacturing. They would effectively turn our energy systems, manufacturing, defense, livelihoods and living standards over to China.
Chinese computer chips are in countless products – and Trojan horse viruses or backdoors for hackers could enable steady information theft, take over GPS systems or crash electrical grids. Minerals, metals and components essential for aircraft, night vision goggles, computers, wind turbines, solar panels, rechargeable batteries, electric vehicles and other technologies are sourced directly from China or through Chinese companies that conduct horrific mining operations in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Supplies of these materials or products could easily be restricted or cut off amid trade or other conflicts.
Incredibly, America has nearly all the metals and minerals needed to manufacture these products, and many more. However, because of unrelenting environmentalist and Democrat opposition to exploration and mining, the nation’s vast, mineral-rich federal lands (worth many trillions of dollars) remain off limits and undeveloped, forcing the United States to import the vast majority of its essential raw materials.
In fact, America is needlessly 100% dependent on imports for 35 “critical” minerals and metals that are needed for defense, aerospace, transportation, communication, “renewable” energy and healthcare technologies – including 15 different rare earth elements (REEs). At least 25 of them come from China. Another half dozen come from Russia. Not one is renewable, clean, green, cheap or sustainable.
That means America imports nearly two-thirds of its critical minerals and metals from adversaries and enemies! Amazingly, although the United States once led the world in producing REEs, China now makes 95% of all the world’s rare earth metals, using technologies that the U.S. gave them – for free.
Thin-film solar panels require indium and tellurium, to convert the sun’s rays to electricity. Making solar panels also requires lead, cadmium, copper, gallium, silver, polyvinyl fluoride, and other materials and chemicals. Just building the 500 square miles of solar panels that Dominion Energy Virginia is planning would involve some 5,000,000 pounds of cadmium and enormous amounts of these other materials.
A single 2-megawatt wind turbine requires some 3.5 tons of copper to generate and transmit electricity – plus 900 tons of steel, 2,500 tons of concrete, 45 tons of non-recyclable plastic composites, several tons of rare earth elements, and many tons of manganese, cobalt, aluminum and other metals and minerals.
Magnets in hybrid gas-electric vehicle motors require dysprosium and neodymium, while a single 100-kilowatt-hour Tesla rechargeable battery pack (for all-electric vehicles and backup power systems) requires 140 pounds of lithium, large amounts of cobalt, nickel, graphite, aluminum and copper, and smaller amounts of manganese and rare earth metals. The raw material demands go on and on.
Multiply these requirements by the tens of thousands of offshore wind turbines, millions of onshore turbines, billions of solar panels and billions of 1,200-pound battery packs that would be needed under the Green New Deal – and the demand for raw materials would translate into unimaginable increases in mining around the world. It would also bring unsustainable global ecological impacts, enormous increases in global fossil fuel use and emissions, indefensible reliance on Chinese (and Russian) raw material and finished product imports, and vastly more slave and child labor and human rights violations around the world.
Transformers, smart grid control systems, electric vehicles and thousands of miles of additional transmission lines under the GND would add even more to the increases in raw materials demand. Modern civilizations also need numerous other metals: arsenic for microwave communications, fluorspar for aluminum and steel production and uranium processing, gallium for LEDs and cell phones, graphite for rechargeable batteries, scandium for lightweight alloys and fuel cells, bismuth for pharmaceuticals and lead-free solders, antimony for lead-acid batteries and flame retardants, and countless others.
It bears repeating: Almost every one of these essential materials could be mined and processed domestically. But instead many are 100% imported, mostly from China. Many Americans’ disdain for mining and manufacturing means US energy, jobs, living standards, health and national security will be almost entirely dependent on China, Russia and other countries that are not exactly friendly or reliable.
One thing is certain. Unlike US technologies and intellectual property that are constantly at risk of theft by China – there is absolutely nothing about US mineral resource policies that the CCP would ever want to copy, much less steal! And the Chinese certainly have no interest in copying our pollution control, mined land reclamation, wildlife protection, workplace safety, fair wage, child labor or human rights laws.
Sadly, not one of these realities seems to merit even a moment’s consideration by GND proponents.
Paul Driessen is senior policy analyst for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (www.CFACT.org) and author of books and articles on energy, environment, climate and human rights issues. Dr. Ned Mamula is a geologist and former mineral resource specialist with the U.S. Geological Survey. He is the author of the book Groundbreaking! America’s New Quest for Mineral Independence.