The U.S. Geological Survey is rebuffing bipartisan calls from lawmakers to add copper to its list of critical minerals, a classification that’s catapulted in importance as the nation races to compete with China on development of renewable energy technology and boost electric vehicle adoption.
David Applegate, who directs the USGS, told Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.) in an April 13 letter and Republican Rep. Bob Latta of Ohio on May 1 that vulnerabilities in the nation’s copper supplies are reduced by domestic resources, trade deals and other supplies.
“While copper is clearly an essential mineral commodity, its supply chain vulnerabilities are mitigated by domestic capacity, trade with reliable partners, and significant secondary capacity,” Applegate wrote in the letters. “As a result, the USGS does not believe that the available information on copper supply and demand justifies an out-of-cycle addition to the list at this time.”
Sinema did not immediately respond when asked for comment, but Craig Wheeler, a spokesperson for Latta, said there’s still bipartisan, bicameral support for designating copper as critical and significant data that highlights the benefits for the U.S.