Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm said the Biden administration wants to see lithium needed for electric cars to be mined “in a responsible way” that respects the environment and Native American tribes.
Granholm said during a visit to Nevada on Thursday to promote President Joe Biden’s sweeping infrastructure plan that lithium, used for electric vehicle batteries, could become a big source of job creation in the state, in addition to furthering the president’s ambitious climate agenda.
Nevada is home to the only large-scale lithium mine currently operating in the U.S. Two proposed lithium mines in Nevada are facing legal challenges and pushback from conservationists.
A third proposed mine near the Nevada-Oregon border has attracted legal challenges and opposition from ranchers, Native Americans and environmentalists.
The challenges test the Biden administration’s ability to straddle its promises to protect public lands while pushing aggressive clean energy goals like getting more electric cars on the road.
“The administration wants to see mining happen in a responsible way in this country to be able to get the lithium, cobalt, the nickel that are necessary for battery production for electric vehicles,” Granholm said. “It can be done in a way that respects indigenous communities. It can be done in a way that respects the environment.”
Granholm pointed to a project in California where an energy company is working to extract lithium from brine from the Salton Sea, an inland lake, calling the project “utterly sustainable” and “very exciting.”
The two proposed Nevada projects are open pit mines, a different type of mining, but the Energy Secretary and former Michigan governor said Thursday that there’s a “variety of types of mines” and “all of hem could be sustainable.”