Frustrated With Federal Government Progress US States Accelerate Rare Earth Element/Critical Material Programs

A local battle in the midterm election for the 10th Legislative District is revealing in more ways than one.

House of Representatives, Position 1: Rep. Norma Smith, R-Clinton, is running for her sixth term in the House in the State of Washington. Smith, three years ago was instrumental in establishment of the Joint Center for Deployment and Research in Earth Abundant Materials at WSU Everett. The center, which recently held a symposium at which Smith spoke, is tasked with finding and developing alternatives to the rare earth elements that are crucial components in cellphones, batteries, monitors, wind turbines and other technology.


Major industries from transportation services to energy production to consumer electronics depend on materials that are both rare within the earth’s crust and that are often mined using unsustainable practices. This unsustainable use of conflict resources and rare earth minerals have resulted in stifled growth in new industries, advancement of human-rights violating regimes and environmentally-damaging mining practices.  Increased use of earth-­‐abundant materials in industrial sector applications is desirable because it will:

  • Reduce the nations support of a source of international conflict financing and
  • Advance the use of environmentally and economically sustainable mining practices across major industries.

The Joint Center for Deployment and Research in Earth Abundant Materials (JCDREAM) was established in 2015 to provide the organizational framework to stimulate innovation in the use of earth abundant materials within an established and emerging industrial sector. The state of Washington has already emerged as a significant innovation and manufacturing hub for the clean energy and transportation industrial sectors.  A state-wide focus on developing earth-abundant materials technologies within the existing innovation and manufacturing-competencies will help propel Washington State into a position of national leadership in sustainable manufacturing practices within large scale (transportation) and growth (clean energy) industries.

The JCDREAM strategy rests on three core pillars:

  1.  Collaborative research and development: the center will incubate, enhance, and sustain collaborative research and development efforts to advance materials science and engineering, and advanced manufacturing with a focus on clean energy and transportation technologies. JCDREAM will partner and collaborate with Washington State Clean Energy facilities to establish design and manufacturing capabilities for clean energy innovation.
  2. Regional center for transportation materials and manufacturing: the center will deploy a modern, responsive, and geographically distributed research and development infrastructure. It collectively integrates advanced  capabilities  and  “signature”  user  facilities as a regional  center for materials processing and manufacturing through the establishment of networked gateways located  at  (and  operated  by)  the  partner  institutions  and  available  to  the  JCDREAM community at-­‐large.
  3. Education and Leadership: the center implements an educational program that is responsive to the workforce and policy needs of the state of Washington. JCDREAM serves to help develop the educated and trained workforce required in advanced  materials and manufacturing science   and  technology to support next-­generation earth-­abundant clean energy and transportation technologies. The center also provides national leadership and guidance to elected officials, and supports industrial collaborators in bringing visibility to the importance of the challenge posed by unsustainable use of resources and rare earth minerals.
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