Hybrid cars like the Prius emit less carbon than conventional cars. But they also depend on rare earth materials to make their engines work. And the mining of rare earth extracts a heavy toll on the environment in other ways. China has most of the world's easily accessible rare earth (which isn't actually rare, just hard to find in concentrations that make extraction profitable), and it recently decided to cut off supply to other countries. But the United States is also jumping into the business. Here's the big environmental problem, as Mother Jones explains: Rare earths occur naturally with the …
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