Arizona congressional delegation members lead on critical mineral security

Members of the Arizona congressional delegation are taking a leadership role in promoting the Western Hemisphere, the United States, and Arizona’s position as sources for critical minerals, which are essential to the manufacture of next-generation technology like semiconductors and electric vehicle batteries. 

Ciscomani and Crane: U.S. Rep. Juan Ciscomani (R-AZ) and Rep. Eli Crane (R-AZ) in May introduced legislation to ensure parity between critical materials, as defined by the Department of Energy, and critical minerals, as defined by the U.S. Geological Survey. 

Their bill, the Critical Mineral Consistency Act, would eliminate the confusion between the two definitions and give the same benefits to both critical materials and critical minerals as part of an effort to reduce the country’s reliance on foreign nations for critical minerals and materials. 

“With both critical minerals and critical materials playing such a key role in everything from energy to national security, we need to ensure our federal agencies are operating with the same understanding of what we need to prioritize,” Ciscomani said. “This legislation ensures parity between critical minerals versus critical materials while bolstering America’s supply chain for strategic resources for a more resilient future.” 

Stanton: U.S. Rep. Greg Stanton (D-AZ) last month introduced the Semiconductor Supply Chain Security and Diversification Act, a bill intended to bolster the development of a regional semiconductor ecosystem in Latin America. 

The bill directs the Development Finance Corporation to invest in “downstream” elements of the semiconductor supply chain in the Western Hemisphere like critical mineral mining and processing, as well as in “upstream” parts of the supply chain like testing and packaging. The DFC would make its investments regardless of the host-country’s income classification. 

Stanton says the legislation will help wean the U.S.’ reliance on China for materials and also help the U.S. achieve the potential of the CHIPS and Science Act, which is investing billions of dollars in the domestic production of semiconductors, including in major projects from TSMC and Intel in Arizona. 

“Our CHIPS Act is already investing billions of dollars in Arizona’s microchip manufacturing industry. But we have to address our reliance on China for other critical parts of the semiconductor supply chain, from raw materials to distribution,” Stanton said. “Not only will our bipartisan legislation offer businesses a compelling economic alternative to China, it’ll boost economic prosperity across Latin America.” 

Sinema and Kelly: Both of Arizona’s U.S. senators, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I) and Sen. Mark Kelly (D), have been vocal in their calls for copper to be designated as a critical mineral by the U.S. Geological Survey, 

In comments last year to the Phoenix Committee on Foreign Relations and the Arizona Defense and Industry Council, Sinema said, “Arizona leads the way in our national defense and energy future. I’m working across the aisle to further our leadership by boosting the responsible production of critical minerals, strengthening our national security, reducing reliance on foreign countries, and fueling economic opportunities.”

Sinema and Kelly earlier this year sent a letter to Treasury Sec. Janet Yellen urging the Biden administration to allow critical mineral mining and processing activities to qualify for the 45X Advanced Manufacturing Production Tax Credit included in the Inflation Reduction Act.    

“…The clear purpose of section 45X was to encourage investment in the United States and to build a reliable and resilient domestic supply chain for critical minerals right here at home,” the senators wrote. “The section 45X credit was designed to support responsible domestic mining and processing of these minerals. As members of the U.S. Senate, we want to clarify that the blanket exclusion of materials costs is not consistent with the intent of Congress and should be expeditiously revised.” 

Joining Sinema and Kelly on the letter were Senators Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), John Hickenlooper (D-CO), Laphonza Butler (D-CA), Bob Casey (D-PA), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Patty Murray (D-WA), and Jacky Rosen (D-NV).

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