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The U.S. Geological Survey recognizes 17 different rare earths, materials with science-fictionesque names like lanthanum and gadolinium. They are used in everything: glass polishing and ceramics, automotive catalytic converters, computer monitors, lighting, televisions and pharmaceuticals.
"Without these elements, much of the modern economy will just plain shut down," he said.
Originally posted by Schaden
Well up until now, that's been good policy. Better have China pollute the living crap out of their land, than California, while the prices have stayed relatively low. When it gets really expensive, they'll mine again in the US.