Posted on March 5, 2022 by Alex Fitzsimmons
This op-ed was originally published by the Las Vegas Review-Journal on March 5, 2022. Click here to read the entire piece.
As war in Europe underscores the importance of secure energy supply chains, some good news from Nevada shows how the United States can boost domestic supplies of critical minerals and reduce dependence on foreign adversaries, such as Russia and China. Success hinges on the federal government’s capacity to unleash private-sector innovation, not restrict it.
Last month, Nevada approved the final permits needed for Lithium Americas’ proposed Thacker Pass project, which would be the second active lithium mine in the United States. Domestic demand for lithium is rising as the country builds more energy storage for grid reliability and electric mobility.
The Trump administration approved Thacker Pass on Jan. 15, 2021, but the project is still months away from construction while the company resolves remaining permitting and litigation.
The fact remains that it shouldn’t take this long. A decade in the making, Thacker Pass highlights the need for modernizing the permitting process to produce a domestic supply of critical minerals necessary for clean energy development.
America’s dependence on foreign sources of critical minerals is well known. The United States is import-reliant for 31 of 35 critical minerals and has no domestic production for 14 of those minerals. By 2040, demand for energy-related minerals such as lithium, cobalt, graphite and nickel could grow by 20 to 40 times, according to the International Energy Agency.
Regardless of where the minerals are mined, China controls the refining process, including for lithium. Russia is also one of the top nickel producers, a key mineral for energy storage. If the United States does not diversify its sources, growing demand for minerals will undermine our energy security and clean energy goals.
Click here to read the full article