Biden orders review of transportation sector

AJ Gonzalez | February 25, 2021

FreightWaves, John Gallagher, Washington Correspondent  Follow on Twitter Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Administration directive also includes review of supply chain for large-capacity electric vehicle batteries

An executive order to be signed Wednesday by President Joe Biden includes a one-year review of transportation networks as well as a review of supply chains for four products considered critical in addressing national emergencies.

As FreightWaves reported earlier this month, Biden planned to use an executive order to make good on a campaign promise to review critical supply chains and reduce American dependence on imports for pandemic-related equipment and materials.

According to a fact sheet released Wednesday on the order, “Securing America’s Critical Supply Chains,” the administration is calling for a review of the “transportation industrial base and supply chains for agricultural commodities and food production.” Four other industrial-base sectors in the order include defense, public health and biological preparedness, information and communications technology (ICT), and energy.

The fact sheet notes that agencies and departments – which could include the U.S. Department of Transportation – will also be required to identify locations of key manufacturing and production assets and the role of transportation systems in supporting supply chains.

“While we cannot predict what crisis will hit us, we should have the capacity to respond quickly in the face of challenges,” the fact sheet states. “The United States must ensure that production shortages, trade disruptions, natural disasters and potential actions by foreign competitors and adversaries never leave the United States vulnerable again. Today’s action delivers on the president’s campaign commitment to direct his administration to comprehensively address supply chain risks.”

In addition to the one-year transportation-sector review, the order also directs a more immediate 100-day review across federal agencies to address supply chain vulnerabilities for four products:

  • Active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs). “APIs are the part of a pharmaceutical product that contains the active drug. In recent decades, more than 70% of API production facilitators supplying the U.S. have moved offshore. This work will complement the ongoing work to secure supply chains needed to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.”
  • Critical minerals. “From rare earths [minerals] in our electric motors and generators to the carbon fiber used for airplanes – the United States needs to ensure we are not dependent upon foreign sources…in times of national emergency.”
  • Semiconductors and advanced packaging. “The United States is the birthplace of this technology and has always been a leader in semiconductor development. However, over the years we have underinvested in production – hurting our innovative edge – while other countries have learned from our example and increased their investments in the industry.”
  • Large capacity batteries, such as those used in electric vehicles. “While the U.S. is a net exporter of electric vehicles, we are not a leader in the supply chain associated with electric battery production. The U.S. could better leverage our sizable lithium reserves and manufacturing know-how to expand domestic battery production.”

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