Granholm wants lithium to be mined to make clean energy batteries
WASHINGTON – Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm on Monday promoted responsible lithium mining in Nevada as part of a national plan to make more lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles and provide clean energy to fight against climate change.
Granholm led a Ministry of Energy roundtable to discuss the National Lithium Battery Master Plan 2021-2030 with representatives of private sector companies involved in the supply chain of critical minerals for manufacturers who produce smart phones, computers and cars.
President Joe Biden has set a goal of reducing fossil fuel emissions by 50% within a decade and zero emissions by 2050.
“We will not be able to achieve these goals without lithium batteries,” said Granholm.
Joseph Mendelson, senior attorney at Tesla, said securing supplies of lithium to build batteries for electric cars is key to being competitive globally.
He said China was “ahead of the game” due to incentives, standards and the supply of essential minerals to produce batteries and energy storage systems. Tesla owns a lithium battery factory at the Tahoe Reno Industrial Center; the batteries produced there are installed in cars and trucks made in California, where other parts are built and assembled.
JB Straubel, co-founder and CEO of Redwood Materials in Carson City, said his company is cutting batteries from e-waste to recycle lithium and electrical waste.
All of the trade representatives who attended the roundtable seemed to agree with Granholm, who said mining and refining lithium was essential to stay competitive with China, which controls much of the chain. supply of clean energy technologies.
Nevada is the only state with a large commercial lithium mine in the United States – Silver Peak, which opened in the 1960s in Esmeralda County. But two proposed mines in northern Nevada face opposition from Native American tribes and environmentalists.
The Biden administration has agreed to protect the habitat of Tiehm’s buckwheat, a rare flower found on 10 acres in Esmeralda County. The Rhyolite Ridge lithium mine, proposed by an Australian mining company, would be located on the same public land as Tiehm buckwheat.
“Tiehm’s buckwheat should not be wiped from the face of the Earth by an open pit mine,” said Patrick Donnelly, Nevada director for the Center for Biological Diversity, in a statement on the administration’s decision. protect the flower under the endangered species. Act.
Environmentalists praised the Biden administration for providing protections for the flower, whose global habitat is only 10 acres in Nevada.
Environmental impact and tribal concerns spared protests against the Thacker Pass lithium mine in Humboldt County and approved by the Bureau of Land Management.
The Fort McDermitt Paiute and Shoshone tribe and ranchers said the mine would reduce access to hunting, fishing, water sources and sacred sites. Protests have taken place at the site and in Reno in recent months.
Because lithium is a finite resource and essential to clean energy goals, Granholm said the Ministries of Defense, State and Trade, as well as Energy, are developing a strategy to boost domestic production of batteries and the national supply chain.