President Joe Biden and his administration are making moves to try and urge the United States to adopt electric vehicles. Biden allocated $174 billion towards electric vehicle related issues in his American Jobs Plan proposal announced in Pittsburgh earlier this week. The President also previously tasked the federal government with studying our nation’s supply chain for rare earth metals and other vital EV components. This comes from concerns related to the fact that we currently get most of these products from China, and the possible national security implications that fact presents. The U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm presented ideas on how to shore up this supply chain issue.
To quote some of the finest of modern literature from The Oatmeal: “we require more minerals.”
According to a report from Reuters, Granholm noted last month that the United States needs to boost our own production of various minerals and rare earth metals in order to effectively wean the nation off of China’s resources. Both President Joe Biden and Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm have described the situation with China as “untenable”, though we’ve gotten little in the way of specific ideas as to how to achieve this. Mining is obviously not a popular subject with environmentalists, which also presents a challenge for the new administration. That said, Granholm is adamant that we much approach this challenge with sustainability in mind, as it is with us as well.
The United States is home to about 10 percent of the world’s lithium reserves, with the vast majority of the supply existing out west. More specifically, the United States Geological Survey notes that California, New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, Connecticut, Maine, and Massachusetts are home to the most lithium deposits in the country. That is surely an ample amount of the material, which has been experiencing a boom in prices as of late. So then it is clear that there are real financial incentives involved here. But again, the way in which we approach mining for these materials is at the front of this discussion, more so than whether or not we have the raw resources.
There is no denying that mining is a dirty business as it relates to environmental impacts. In the past, the U.S. has been able to pass the lion share of this burden off on the countries from which we source these materials. But if the government is legitimately going to try to secure our supply chain, the tactics and methodology involved need to be addressed. What good does building massive amounts of electric vehicles do if we have to destroy the environment in order to do it? That is really the challenge that Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm and her department faces.