Perhaps you've heard that China has a worldwide monopoly on rare earth elements, without which the high-tech and cleantech world — electric cars, computers, cell phones, wind turbines, smart meters, advanced batteries, the whole enchilada — would grind to a shiny, clanking halt.
But now, instead of relying on Chinese imports to keep the rare-earth economy humming, we can destroy our OWN local environment! A small town in Nebraska has volunteered to be turned into a giant open-pit mine in the name of powering the post-fossil-fuel revolution.
Elk Creek, Neb., population 112, could not be more excited to be sitting on top of potentially the world's largest deposit of rare earth elements. "It’s been a very, very positive experience for our community … any time you have money flowing in a small town, that’s a positive," Nebraska State Sen. Lacon Heidemann told the Washington Times.
This is also really good news for the U.S., which has felt so threatened by China's dominance of rare earth elements that this monopoly is often described as a barrier to national security. But, in case you couldn't tell from this irony-laden post, it may not be such good news for the citizens of Elk Creek, who have possibly not been briefed on the fairly destructive practices required to mine these elements.
From the perspective of the country as a whole, however, it still beats strip-mining Appalachia for coal.