Washington State Passes Bill on Joint Center for Deployment and Research in Earth-Abundant Materials

House Bill 1897, which would establish the Joint Center for Deployment and Research in Earth-Abundant Materials (JCDREAM), was approved by the Washington State Legislature and signed by Governor Inslee.

JCDREAM is a collaborative partnership between the state's three major research institutions – Washington State University, the University of Washington and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL). Bill sponsor Rep. Norma Smith, R-Clinton, crafted the legislation in cooperation with researchers from each of the three institutions. Research will be conducted at each institution, and will involve the private sector to ensure the research stays tied to projects that will grow local businesses and create jobs in Washington state. The partnership between WSU, UW and PNNL will also maximize opportunities to attract federal research dollars to the state.

"While we have made incredible strides in our pursuit to deploy clean technologies, including wind, solar and electric/hybrid vehicles, these technologies continue to be dependent on rare earth elements and difficult-to-source earth components," saidSmith. "The establishment of JCDREAM would make Washington state a leader in the research, development and deployment of earth-abundant materials, which are reliably accessible and can be acquired in environmentally responsible processes."

Smith says the advancement of clean technologies will have a profound impact on the future – primarily with regard to national security, energy independence, sustainability and environmental responsibility.

"Everyone recognizes the need to wean ourselves from rare earths and other compromised materials. Right now, one country holds an enormous monopoly on the rare earths being used around the world, many of which are being mined in abhorrent ways that result in dire environmental consequences. It is vital we work with our partners domestically and internationally to find materials that can be used as substitutes. The creation of  JCDREAM is just the first step toward establishing Washington state as a leader in the effort to research next generation, environmentally beneficial advances in earth-abundant technologies."

House Bill 1897 stipulates the JCDREAM Board must include deans from WSU and the UW; one representative from a regional university; a representative from PNNL; a community college representative; representatives from large, medium and small industry companies; one member with experience in national security and energy policy; and one member with experience in innovation and development of policy to address environmental challenges. The administrative offices of JCDREAM will be established at WSU North Puget Sound in Everett.

"To have the opportunity to put some of the best scientists in academia in the same room with clean technology industry innovators is very exciting," said Smith. "We as a state truly have the opportunity to lead by putting forward a compelling vision and framework to advance the use of earth-abundant materials in clean technologies."