NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Clean Energy Threatens U.S. Economy and National Security

February 18, 2011

Increasing the United States' reliance on "clean" energy would leave Americans dependent on a single nation for critical energy supplies -- China.  The threat to both national security and the U.S. economy is obvious to anyone who isn't blinded by environmentalist dogma, says H. Sterling Burnett, a senior fellow with the National Center for Policy Analysis.

  • Key components of every green energy technology are made from a small class of minerals known as rare earth elements and other rare minerals (such as tellurium, neodymium and lanthanum).
  • Despite their name, these elements are rather abundant, but at the moment and for the near future, they are found in economically exploitable concentrations only in China.
  • With 96 percent of the global market, China has a de facto monopoly on the trade in these rare elements.

By contrast, the world's oil market is diverse.  Dozens of countries, including the United States, produce and export oil.  In 2009, the United States imported oil or oil products from 90 countries.  By comparison, there is no other supplier of rare earth elements to turn should China find it in its interest to restrict its supply to the market.  This leaves China free to manipulate the market at will, says Burnett.

Source: H. Sterling Burnett, "Obama's Green Power Builds China's Red Power," Washington Times, February 16, 2011.

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