On Sept. 30, 2020, President Donald Trump issued Executive Order No. 13817 to alleviate the United States’ reliance upon China and other foreign nations for critical minerals and Barite. The Executive Order declares a national emergency related to 35 critical minerals, 80 percent of which are imported directly from China and are vulnerable to supply chain disruption. Such minerals are used in technology, electricity generation and transmission, transportation, energy supplies and other areas of the national economy and defense. The Order states that the absence of such minerals would have significant consequences for our economic and national security. 

It directs the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) to develop a program within 60 days that utilizes its authorities under the Defense Protection Act to fund and expand domestic mineral development and processing. The program should (1) prioritize the expansion and protection of the domestic supply chain of critical minerals and Barite; (2) expand research and development activities that relate to the mapping, extraction, processing and use of such minerals; (3) encourage reuse and development of historic and abandoned mine sites for critical mineral development; and (4) include a grant program to secure domestic production and processing equipment for critical minerals. 

Further, the U.S. Secretary of State and the U.S. Trade Representative are instructed to submit a plan within 45 days that details how the U.S. will coordinate with its partners and allies to secure international trade of such minerals; to produce responsible sourcing of minerals; and to reduce the dependence of the U.S. on minerals that are not produced under responsible mining standards. Tariffs, quotas, or other import restrictions may be imposed upon China and other non-market foreign adversaries. 

Importantly, the Order instructs federal agencies including DOI, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to use all available authorities to accelerate the issuance of permits and the completion of projects in connection with expanding and protecting the domestic supply chain for minerals. While more details will become available in the comings weeks, after the related agencies generate the required reports and programmatic plans, this element of the Order may result in more streamlined NEPA and other permitting and financing processes related to mining and energy projects. Parsons Behle and Latimer will review such plans as they become available and inform interested parties about potential impacts upon their current and future operations and plans. 

To learn more about this or related issues, contact Megan Olmstead by calling (801) 532-1234 or send an email to molmstead@parsonsbehle.com.