As a working mom, I always negotiated my calendar first. I willingly traded some financial compensation for flexibility in my schedule, but I couldn’t have done it without technology.
Work didn’t keep me from baseball games or cheerleading competitions because I could respond to emails and requests between innings or performances.
When my son was hospitalized with meningitis, I didn’t leave his side. I brought my lap top and cell phone to his quarantined room. I was there when he was awake and working next to him while he slept. The entire time I kept my eye on the computer that helped dispense his antibiotics and pain medication.
I just assumed the technology would always be there, always improving. But several years ago, I realized the threat to the very technology on which I and so many working moms rely – critical minerals.
Critical minerals are minerals, including rare earth elements (REE), that are crucial to our economic and military strength and whose supply is vulnerable to disruption due to geopolitics, natural disasters or other events.
These minerals are part of our everyday lives, in everything from smart phones, to wind turbines, to alternative vehicle car batteries, to medical equipment, to military strategic weapons systems and more. It’s impossible to maintain our standard of living without them.
In the not so distant past, the U.S. developed and processed most of its own critical minerals, but excessive regulation over the last two decades has put us further behind while “other countries – not always friendly to the U.S. – have lured investment dollars to develop their own critical mineral resources for export.”
According to a recently released Department of Interior (DOI) report, the U.S. “is currently100 percent reliant on foreign sources for 20 mineral commodities and imports the majority of its supply of more than 50 mineral commodities.”
Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) warned, “Our nation’s growing dependence on foreign minerals is a distinct threat to our economy, our national defense, and our international competitiveness.”
There is good news.
Just before Christmas, President Trump signed an executive order directing federal agencies to develop a plan to break U.S. reliance on foreign sources for critical minerals, stating, “The United States is heavily reliant on imports of certain mineral commodities that are vital to the Nation’s security and economic prosperity. This dependency of the United States on foreign sources creates a strategic vulnerability for both its economy and military…”
Developing our own resources is good policy and good business. It alleviates national security, environmental, and human rights concerns; puts Americans to work in the development, mining, and processing of these critical elements; and helps working women by assuring we have the technology we need to be both moms and committed professionals.