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The story of one citizen's fight to preserve a US stake in the future of clean energy and the elements essential to high-tech industries and national defense.
American technological prowess used to be unrivaled. But because of globalization, and with the blessing of the US government, once proprietary materials, components, and technologies are increasingly commercialized outside the United States. Nowhere is this more dangerous than in China's monopoly of rare earth elements - materials that are essential for nearly all modern consumer goods, gadgets, and weapons systems.
Jim Kennedy is a retired securities portfolio manager who bought a bankrupt mining operation. The mine was rich in rare earth elements, but he soon discovered that China owned the entire global supply and manufacturing chain. Worse, no one in the federal government cared. Dismayed by this discovery, Jim made a plan to restore America's rare earth industry. His plan also allowed technology companies to manufacture rare earth-dependent technologies in the United States again and develop safe, clean nuclear energy. For years Jim lobbied Congress, the Pentagon, and the White House Office of Science and Technology and traveled the globe to gain support. Exhausted, down hundreds of thousands of dollars, and with his wife at her wits' end, at the start of 2017 Jim sat on the edge of victory, held his breath, and bet it all that his government would finally do the right thing.
Like Beth Macy's Factory Man, this is the story of one man's efforts to stem the dehumanizing tide of globalization and Washington's reckless inaction. Jim's is a fight we need to join.