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Tipton: NDAA Wilderness Amendments Detrimental to Military Readiness, National Security

July 20, 2020
Press Release

WASHINGTON--Today, Congressman Scott Tipton (CO-03) spoke on the House floor in opposition to two amendments attached to the National Defense Authorization Act. During the debate, Tipton slammed the Democrats’ efforts to permanently lock up federal land that is critical for military aviation training and other areas that could be used to extract certain rare earth minerals that are vital to America’s national security.

Specifically, Tipton was critical of components of both the Colorado Outdoor and Recreation Economy Act and the Protecting America’s Wilderness Act, which would both add wilderness protections to several hundred thousand acres of federal lands within Colorado’s Third District. The amendments would impact the operating zones of the Department of Defense’s High-Altitude-Aviation Training Site (HAATS), as well as permanently ban the development of critical and strategic minerals on which the U.S. is 100 percent import reliant. Tipton cites a U.S. Geological Survey map that show lands covered under the two amendments that contain several deposits and occurrences of rare earth and other critical minerals. The U.S. currently imports 100 percent of many rare earth and critical minerals from China.

Tipton’s remarks as prepared state, “The area identified as the Colorado Mineral Belt, which spans from Boulder down through Gunnison County and all the way to the four corners area contains deposits of the minerals on which the U.S. is import reliant. Included in the Colorado Mineral Belt are the areas around West Elk Mountain containing deposits of manganese, of which the U.S. is 100 percent import reliant, and the Iron Hill rare earth elements district containing not only rare earth elements but also manganese, niobium, and titanium. Wilderness designations in these areas would permanently lock these minerals underground.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted how dangerous it is for our country to not have its own sustainable and secure supply chain for the minerals we need for not only our national defense, but also lifesaving technologies and even the alternative energy sources that so many of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle hold up as the cure for the earth’s changing climate. Voting to lock away the keys we need to create that supply chain would be reckless and endanger our children and grandchildren.”

Tipton also pointed out the Department of Defense was not given the opportunity to weigh in on the impact that the language in either of these amendments would have on military readiness or our national defense.

Tipton’s full speeches from today’s debate can be found here and here.  

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