New Delhi: Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said the Biden administration wants the lithium needed for electric vehicles to be sourced “responsibly” with respect for the environment and Indian tribes.
Granholm said during a visit to Nevada on Thursday to promote President Joe Biden’s ambitious infrastructure plan that the lithium used in electric car batteries could be a great source of job creation in the state, as well as help drive the president’s ambitious climate agenda.
Nevada is home to the only major lithium mine currently operating in the United States. Two proposed lithium mines in Nevada are facing legal challenges and environmentalist opposition.
Plans for one of the mines came under threat this week after the US government announced it would offer protection for an extremely rare wildflower that only grows in Nevada at the mine site under the Endangered Species Act.
A third proposed mine near the Nevada-Oregon border has drew litigation and opposition from ranchers, Native Americans and environmentalists.
These challenges test the Biden administration’s ability to deliver on its promises to protect public lands while advancing aggressive green energy goals such as more electric vehicles on the road.
Granholm on Thursday said the administration wants to find a way to achieve both goals.
“The administration wants this country’s mining industry to operate in a responsible manner so that it can obtain the lithium, cobalt and nickel that are needed to make batteries for electric vehicles,” Granholm said. “This can be done with respect for indigenous communities. This can be done with respect for the environment. ”
Granholm pointed to a project in California where an energy company is working to extract lithium from brine in the Salton Sea, an inland lake, calling the project “completely sustainable” and “very exciting.”
The two proposed projects in Nevada are open-pit mines, a different type of mining, but the Energy Secretary and former Michigan governor said Thursday that there are “many types of mines” and “all deposits can be sustainable.”
“It just needs to be done right,” she said.
Granholm appeared at North Las Vegas City Hall with Governor Steve Sisolak and US Representative Stephen Horsford.
She planned to visit a solar-powered facility, tour the solar-powered home, and meet with elected officials, human rights defenders and workers during her two-day visit ending Friday.