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Energy Independence Day: Lithium and Batteries in the United States

March 18 2024
Government, Labor Relations, Legislative Affairs, Safety, Safety and Health, Unions

Energy independence is an idea that has been espoused from presidential pulpits for decades. The ability to produce all of the nation’s energy needs within our borders is an intoxicating one – without having to rely on outsiders for critical infrastructure needs gives the US an unimaginable advantage in everything from commerce to national security. But what does ‘energy independence’ look like in practice? 

We may find out soon. 

With the recent discovery of what could be the richest and largest lithium deposit anywhere in the world in the McDermitt Caldera on the border of Nevada and Oregon, the US has revolutionized our electric future nearly overnight. No longer needing to rely on China for the critical element in the electrification process, the US has the opportunity to seize onshore battery production that would be the envy of the world. 

But what is in the ground is only important if extraction and utilization are prioritized. With the recent DOE announcement of a $2 billion loan for a lithium processing plant in Nevada, it appears that the government is taking this message to heart. Countless words have been written about the electrification of the automotive industry, but this critical step in the process that is now underway takes what was a good idea and turns it into an undeniable fact 

This emerging synergy across the supply chain only strengthens the auto industry – not to mention the national economy dependent on automakers and the jobs they create. Electrifying the fleets of the Big 3 seemed to be largely an environmental play, but now becomes a supply chain benefit, and in turn, a boon for the economy and national security. The factories for these cars are being built, the factories for the batteries are being built – and now, the processing plants for the most important mineral in the chain are being built. From extraction to production to consumption, all here in the land of the free. The next great American automobile was destined to be electric, but with lithium extracted and processed here, it is now truly what we thought it would be all along – American made. 

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