Detroit Authority: Senators Look to Rally U.S. EV Material Production

Committee looking to expedite mining process for needed materials.

While the Trump administration – through the Environmental Protection Agency – continues to press for changes in fuel economy regulations that would to sideline efforts to put more EVs on the road across the United States, the U.S. Congress is getting nervous about China’s fast moving electric-car effort.

Both Republicans and Democrats in the U.S. Senate are voicing support for a national electric car supply chain policy in the United States Senate, according to a report from Reuters.

The Senate’s Energy and Natural Resources Committee recently held a hearing on the American Mineral Security Act. The legislation aims to make it easier and quicker for U.S. mines to meet regulations and gain permits for lithium, graphite and other minerals or precious materials needed for electric car production. It would also require a tally of metal reserves in the country.

The legislation features bipartisan sponsorship: Republican Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Democrat Joe Manchin of West Virginia. At the hearing, Murkowski said the U.S. is doing itself no favors by not knowing how much of a particular natural resource is available, in reference to the tally mandate for electric car materials, according to Reuters.

The process would send field experts out across the U.S. to take rock samples and understand what minerals might be hiding beneath our own feet. Experts said current estimates of lithium and other rare earth minerals used in battery production are likely conservative.

A group of U.S. senators developed new legislation designed to protect and expedited the mining of minerals needed for EV batteries and vehicles.

The committee heard testimony that China has a huge head start on production and processing. Even some U.S. facilities face somewhat of a monopoly and must send minerals to China for processing because the market remains weak domestically.

Some companies called for federal loan guarantees to boost mining production and jump start the market. Investors are often wary of new mine projects in the U.S. because of China’s dominance in the segment.

China is also moving ahead rapidly with developing new battery chemistries, which depend largely on minerals easily available in China, experts have said.

China’s lead in the electric car market isn’t all that surprising. The government has offered incentives to manufacturers to produce and sell EVs for several years as it looked to improve the air quality of its major cities and retain its leadership in the segment.

By:  Joseph Szczesny
Source: Detroit Bureau