Biden moves to incentivize domestic mineral mining for electric vehicle batteries

President Biden invoked the Defense Production Act on Thursday to increase domestic mining of key minerals needed to make batteries for electric vehicles.

The White House said the move would reduce US dependence on China and other authoritarian regimes as it plans to move away from gas-powered vehicles.

“We need to embrace all the tools and technologies that can help us free ourselves from our dependence on fossil fuels and move us toward a more homegrown clean energy,” Biden said. “We must end our long-term dependence on China and other countries for efforts that will drive the future.”

Relying on the Defense Production Act means that the federal government is now considering strengthening its critical mineral resources, including nickel and cobalt, which are crucial to national interest. As such, the White House will be able to increase funding and support for domestic companies working to mine these minerals.

However, the administration does not offer loans to companies or suggest that you buy minerals directly. Instead, it will provide assistance with mining and conduct feasibility studies on how to modernize the domestic mining industry.

White House officials say the overall effect will be to stimulate domestic mining, rather than directly subsidize it. The decision reflects the deep opposition from the Congress Democrats to increased domestic mining, especially all that would take place on federal land.

“We’ve seen abuse, and we’ve seen a lot of websites that have been abandoned,” said Sen. Ben Ray Luj├ín, a Democrat in New Mexico. “The US government takes responsibility and then it takes a lifetime to be able to go to recover, but what is never talked about is the people in the community who live in that community, how damaged they are.”

Critics say the Democratic opposition has severely restricted Mr. Biden’s attempt to stop foreign dominance of the critical mineral supply chain. They say that while funding for some feasibility and modernization studies may be helpful, it will not do much to speed up the Byzantine licensing process to get new mines up and running.

“Announcements like today, which come less than two months after canceling leases for a federal land mining project in my district, are an attempt at political coverage, not a real solution to actually gain access to U.S. mineral resources,” the rep said. Pete Stauber, Minnesota Republican. “We must look at the actions of this administration, not their words.”

A report from the London-based company Benchmark Mineral Intelligence said China produces 80% of the total raw materials used for advanced batteries. Lithium, cobalt, nickel and graphite are all central to the manufacture of electric vehicles.

In 2019, China produced 72% of the world’s rechargeable lithium-ion batteries, while the United States accounted for 9%. Such batteries are most often used to power electric vehicles, says the Ministry of Energy.

The advantage of the communist regime is the result of long-term investment and planning. Beijing is in the process of developing at least 107 mega plants for lithium-ion batteries by 2030. At least 53 of these plants are already up and running.

The United States is expected to develop nine mega-factories over the same period. Only three are now in operation.

“The supply chain for electric car batteries runs directly through China,” said Myron Ebell, director of the Conservative Competitive Enterprise Institutes Center for Energy and Environment. “It is more or less impossible to open a new rare earth metal processing plant in the United States because of our strict rules.”

China’s dominance also stems from its trade partnerships with countries accused of using both slave and child labor. The Democratic Republic of Congo in particular is alleged to be using forced child labor to mine raw cobalt, which is then exported to China for processing.

Beijing is processing these critical minerals and turning them into electric car batteries in its Xinjiang province, where the communist regime has been accused of violating the human rights of hundreds of thousands of Uighur Muslims.

GOP lawmakers, especially those on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, have long sought to block US tax dollars from buying electric vehicle batter or critical minerals made by slave labor.

“Instead of continuing to rely on nations that exploit child labor, we must keep our nation to a much higher standard and give American workers the opportunity to responsibly harvest these critical minerals here under the best environmental and labor standards in the world,” he said. says Stauber.

Legislation on the subject has been blocked by Democrats every time it has been put to the vote in Parliament’s Transport Committee.

“Quitting child labor should not be a biased attempt and it remains a mystery to me why my Democratic colleagues continue to turn a blind eye to these abuses,” Stauber said.

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