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We Can’t Let China Sway Our Energy Decisions

By Barry Elias   |   Monday, 27 Dec 2010 07:30 AM

First U.S. Treasury bonds, now dysprosium.

China owns nearly $1 trillion of U.S. debt (approximately 7 percent of the nearly $14 trillion total). China also retains roughly $2.5 trillion in foreign-currency reserves, nearly all in U.S. dollars. They lend money to us so we can purchase their exports, which are more competitively priced than ours.

If this financial dependency isn’t worrisome enough, consider dysprosium.

Dysprosium is a rare-earth element (mineral) that is vital to clean-energy production (e.g., renewable, green). This mineral preserves magnetism at high temperatures, which enables compact electric motors to emit extremely high power, such as in an effective and efficient wind-turbine operation.

Along with dysprosium, terbium, neodymium, europium and yttrium are among the medium and heavy rare-earth elements that are essential to renewable-energy generation.

China mines between 96 percent and 99.8 percent of the world supply of these elements.

My blog last week indicated there are scientific analyses that suggest renewable-energy generation may do more harm than good by reducing water and food supplies while, ironically, increasing carbon-dioxide (CO2, greenhouse gas) emissions. If these analyses aren’t accurate, and renewable generation proceeds at a breakneck pace, we are then faced with the prospect of another China addiction: energy.

The ramifications of this multidependent scenario wouldn’t be attractive. Geoeconomics and geopolitics would drive decision-making, which may be anathema to optimal resource allocation. More importantly, it has the potential to disrupt our national security: first through economics and commerce, then through politics, intelligence, and defense.

John Stossel recently aired a report in which an environmental organization expressed strong opposition to ethanol production. The group’s representative indicated they were an advocate of ethanol use until they reviewed studies that suggest it is highly inefficient and creates a great deal of carbon emissions, making society worse off.

I wonder why they favored it in the first place: was it based on scientific analysis or a psychosocial /ideological predisposition? How much time, energy (human and otherwise), and money has been (and continues to be) invested in this fallacious public policy?

Before we embark on yet another expensive, failed public policy, let’s objectively examine the basis for renewable-energy generation.

Will it reduce the supplies of water and food? Will it increase carbon emissions? Do we anticipate adequate energy supply to meet projected demand? Will it adversely affect our national security?

If the answer to any of these questions is “no,” we need to reassess our situation with a comprehensive perspective and proceed with caution, rather than the myopic, misguided efforts of the past.

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First U.S. Treasury bonds, now dysprosium. China owns nearly $1 trillion of U.S. debt (approximately 7 percent of the nearly $14 trillion total).China also retains roughly $2.5 trillion in foreign-currency reserves, nearly all in U.S. dollars.They lend money to us so we...
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2010-30-27
 

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