A Rare-Earth Crisis?

Molycorp

Crushing facility for Project Phoenix at Molycorp.

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A somewhat obscure group of elements--the rare-earth elements--have suddenly become a political issue. Critical to the manufacture of high-tech devices such as smartphones, hybrid vehicle motors, wind turbines, solar cells, weapon systems, oil and chemical refining, and more, the rare-earth elements are increasingly in short supply and more expensive as these technologies proliferate. These elements are mainly produced and refined in China, which has recently warned of forthcoming export reductions due to increased domestic demand and restraints on production attributed to environmental concerns. In response to a perceived "rare-earth crisis," some analysts have called for restoring US domestic production of the rare earths, and for challenging China in the World Trade Organization. Others have suggested stockpiling and recycling programs. Join us for a discussion of the rare earths and the policy ramifications of their scarcity, geographic distribution, environmental impacts, and near-monopolistic market.
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About the Author

 

Kenneth P.
Green

 

Benjamin
Zycher
  • Benjamin Zycher is the John G. Searle Chair and a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), where he works on energy and environmental policy. He is also a senior fellow at the Pacific Research Institute.

    Before joining AEI, Zycher conducted a broad research program in his public policy research firm, and was an intelligence community associate of the Office of Economic Analysis, Bureau of Intelligence and Research, US Department of State.  He is a former senior economist at the RAND Corporation, a former adjunct professor of economics at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and at the California State University Channel Islands, and is a former senior economist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology.  He served as a senior staff economist for the President's Council of Economic Advisers, with responsibility for energy and environmental policy issues.

    Zycher has a doctorate in economics from UCLA, a Master in Public Policy from the University of California, Berkeley, and a Bachelor of Arts in political science from UCLA.

  • Email: benjamin.zycher@aei.org
  • Assistant Info

    Name: Regan Kuchan
    Phone: 202.862.5903
    Email: regan.kuchan@aei.org

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Wednesday, April 16, 2014 | 10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.
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