Seeing red over green

By Christopher Harper

Going green may end up making many of us see red, particularly since the Brandon administration plans to force automakers to make 50% of all automobiles electric by 2030. 

All you have to do is look at the issue with one crucial mineral in developing a “green” car: lithium.

First, the cars will be significantly more expensive. The cost of lithium has increased as governments push for so-called “green” technology. Lithium, a mineral that is key for electric car batteries, has skyrocketed more than 250% over the last 12 months, hitting its highest level ever, according to an industry index from Benchmark Mineral Intelligence.

The average cost of an electric-vehicle battery ran $157 per kilowatt-hour, a measure of energy capacity, in 2021, the Department of Energy said. That means a typical EV battery costs between $6,000 and $7,000, a Bloomberg analysis showed.

Battery costs would need to come down to $100 per kilowatt-hour for overall EV prices to compete with traditional internal combustion engine cars, according to Bloomberg. The price of lithium will play a prominent role in achieving that goal.

Second, the United States has limited lithium resources, while China and Russia have vast amounts of the mineral. Depending on China and Russia for such minerals is a bad option in anyone’s book. Just think about how the U.S. dependence on foreign oil dominated American economic and foreign policy for decades. 

Third, a big surprise: environmentalists, who say they want “green” energy, don’t want the mining industry to provide it from the United States. 

Lithium Americas proposed to mine lithium on a dormant volcano in Nevada. However, the firm has yet to mine any lithium due to pushback from environmentalists and ongoing lawsuits related to allegations that the federal government approved the company’s mining permit too quickly.

But there’s more. Lithium isn’t technically what’s known as a “rare-earth mineral” because there’s supposedly enough to go around. We’ll see how that works out once the developed countries force most people to buy an electric vehicle.

China mines over 70% of the world’s rare earths and is responsible for 90% of the complex process of turning them into magnets used in electric vehicles and other “green” technologies, such as windmills.

Not surprisingly, environmentalists are also holding up permissions to mine rare earths in the United States. 

Isn’t it time to realize that the movement toward “green” energy needs to pause to determine what economic and political costs are associated with such a radical change in the energy needs of the United States?

Do we really want to be dependent on China for our energy?

If environmentalists want green energy, don’t they have to allow more mining in the United States?

The answers seem pretty apparent to me. 

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