The United States is a major consumer of rare earth, with future demand only expected to rise according to a 2016 United States Government Accountability Office (GOA) report:
The United States is a major consumer of defense and commercial end products containing rare earths, however, its demand for rare earths is approximately nine percent of the global demand, according to DOD estimates.
With researchers predicting that a “transition to a low-carbon society” like outlined in the Paris climate agreement “will require vast amounts of metals and minerals.” rare earth is big business.
Between 2012 and 2015, China accounted for more than 70 Percent Of U.S. Imports of rare-earth compounds and metals, according to a 2017 U.S. Geological Survey:
Rare-earth compounds and metals: China, 72%; Estonia, 7%; France, 5%; Japan, 5%; and other, 11%. Imports of compounds and metal from Estonia, France, and Japan were derived from mineral concentrates produced in China and elsewhere
During the same time period the U.S. imported 57 percent of its lithium from Chile and 40 Percent From Argentina, leaving American industry at the wim of foreign powers.
U.S. green energy like solar panels, wind turbines and electric car batteries all require rare earth a market in which China’s monopolizing could threaten U.S. economic strength and national security interests.