A plan to increase battery production
Under the DPA, U.S. mining companies would have access to $750 million in funds in order to boost production of vital minerals for battery storage. This would include lithium, cobalt, nickel, manganese, and graphite. These are currently largely sourced from China by U.S. manufacturers of electric vehicles.
China’s allegiance to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, oppression of ethnic minorities, and unfair trade practices are all factors being weighed by U.S. policy makers at the moment. Over 100 clean energy and transportation companies have written to urge Congress to pass these provisions.
Signed letters from mostly Democrat Senators also confirm their support to use the DPA to reinforce domestic battery manufacturing for electric vehicles. The Biden administration’s Build Back Better proposal suggests significant investment in clean energy and EV infrastructure. The Senate has yet to pass the bill due to unified Republican opposition.
The implications of mining
Mineral mining is certainly not without its challenges. While the U.S. has an abundance of lithium, removing it from the earth is an expensive and difficult process. In response, electric vehicle manufacturer, Tesla, has launched a new enterprise to recycle EV batteries.
In addition to fossil fuels, Russia is currently the main source for key metals like nickel and platinum. The latter is used to make so-called green hydrogen, a potential replacement for natural gas in home heating and industrial uses.
President Biden’s team is apparently taking steps to ensure the proper environmental reviews and permit regulations are established. Critics have voiced concerns about the harmful effects that mineral mining can have on local ecosystems. These encompass everything from water loss, to water and soil contamination.
The future of electric vehicles
Increased domestic mineral mining presents many opportunities and drawbacks for the United States. This endeavor does require substantial investment from Congress. But the need to expand the clean energy supply chain is inevitable, whether the administration’s efforts to pass the DPA’s provisions are successful or not.