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Biden Invokes Defense Production Act to Support EV-Battery Component Production

Biden Invokes Defense Production Act to Support EV-Battery Component Production

Why is the potentially environmentally harmful production of heavy metals approved, but fossil fuel resource development stifled?

Legal Insurrection has regularly posted our concerns about the availability of rare earth minerals, which are critical to electronic devices we rely heavily on for our homes, businesses, and the defense of this country.

After the disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan, I noted that China was stepping in to exploit the region’s rare earth supply to pair with the near-monopoly the Chinese already have.

How serious is the development? Likely, more problematic than we realize.

As evidence, consider that Biden recently invoked a Cold War statute to support the development of heavy metal and rare earth resources for components used for electric vehicle batteries and other advanced technologies.

Mr. Biden invoked the Defense Production Act, a move that will give the government more avenues to provide support for the mining, processing and recycling of critical materials, such as lithium, nickel, cobalt, graphite and manganese. Those are used to make large-capacity batteries for electric cars and clean-energy storage systems. Yet except for a handful of mines and facilities, they are almost exclusively produced outside the United States.

“We need to end our long-term reliance on China and other countries for inputs that will power the future,” Mr. Biden said during remarks at the White House, where he also announced the release of one million barrels of oil per day from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

The Defense Production Act is a Cold War-era statute that gives the president access to funding and other enhanced powers to shore up the American industrial base and ensure the private sector has the necessary resources to defend national security and face emergencies.

In a determination issued Thursday, the president said that the United States depended on “unreliable foreign sources” for many materials necessary for transitioning to the use of clean energy, and that demand for such materials was projected to increase exponentially.

As a reminder, Former President Donald Trump used the Defense Production Act to fund more at-home production of rare earth elements for use in defense. Biden has allowed the monies to continue, but his order directs the use of these resources for electric-vehicle production.

The miners are happy.

Ben Steinberg, a spokesperson for the Battery Materials & Technology Coalition, said the program invoked by the president last week was “probably the most powerful tool” available to a sitting president to unilaterally support a manufacturing industry. The BMTC is an informal industry group that includes U.S. graphite, lithium and nickel companies, including Piedmont Lithium Inc. and Standard Lithium Ltd.

“There are very few places in the federal government that work on scaling industries and working with critical manufacturing industries in the United States. The Defense industrial policy office is that central node,” Steinberg said. “At face value, [the order] delivers a very strong message.”

The National Mining Association, an industry trade group representing large miners with U.S. operations, believes the order offers a broad range of authorities to support domestic mining.

“Looking at the language included in the order, the Department of Defense now has the authority to employ a full range of strategies that will better secure domestic supplies and we are already in discussions with them on the best way to do so, with conversations occurring as soon as today,” NMA spokesperson Ashley Burke told E&E News in an email this morning.

Simon Moores, managing director of Benchmark Mineral Intelligence, stated in tweets reacting to Biden’s order on Thursday the order “will likely oil the wheels of domestic mining and refining” by “funding easy wins” and “low hanging fruit,” like collecting critical minerals as byproducts from existing mine operations.

It’s fascinating that the green justice activists’ complaints are lightly covered in the news reports and placed toward the articles’ bottom. Given the health hazards associated with several of these elements (e.g., nickel compounds are carcinogenic), I am astonished by the new priorities.

Yet, the move may not lead to the necessary materials for production. There are still environmental regulations and bureaucratic hoops to jump.

Nadia Schadlow, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, a think tank, who served as a deputy national security adviser in the Trump administration, called it a “paper response” and said quick results could depend on loosening environmental regulations, which is not something the Biden administration has signaled its willingness to do.

“There’s not going to be a change with community views toward mines or environmental views on mines,” Schadlow said. “While the expression of will might be a good thing, meaningful change is going to require addressing the issues that have blocked mining production over the years.”

Furthermore, the move gives the Republicans a vital issue as we advance into the November election. Why is the potentially environmentally harmful production of heavy metals approved, but fossil fuel resource development stifled? After all, most regular Americans still drive gasoline-powered cars, the trucking industry depends upon diesel, and petroleum is still essential to national security.

And, the last time I checked, carbon dioxide was a life-essential gas and not a carcinogen.

Still, I am all on for sensible resource development. I want all energy options to be given equal opportunities for free-market growth.

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Comments

It took me a while to understand that nature abhors a void. If we don’t, someone else will.
Civilization, killing itself with concern.

    JohnSmith100 in reply to scooterjay. | April 6, 2022 at 9:45 pm

    Generally uninformed concern. We have a bunch of people with a very limited grasp of the issues, trying to call the shots.

We’re already on a war footing, happily siphoning the Petroleum reserves dry that we would need if we got into an actual war. Now this national emergency. Crisis fatigue, anyone? Boy Wonder Bleep crying wolf again. What could go wrong?

chuckschick | April 6, 2022 at 7:57 am

“Why is the potentially environmentally harmful production of heavy metals approved, but fossil fuel resource development stifled?”

What is ‘because they are beholden to the enemies of Western Civilization in general and the United States in particular.’?

I’ll finish the category ‘Traitors Among Us’ for $1000 Mayim.

    henrybowman in reply to chuckschick. | April 6, 2022 at 9:41 pm

    Who says the production of heavy metals is approved? Up until now, at least, Brandon’s been doing all he can to cripple those mines, the same way he’s been crippling petroleum production.

    Instead of investing in the United States, improving our mine permitting process and creating high wage domestic jobs, the Biden Administration is actively targeting domestic mining projects. Projects like Twin Metals in Minnesota and Resolution Copper in Arizona can provide desperately needed minerals, including copper, nickel, cobalt and tellurium, which are essential for electric vehicles, solar panels and many defense-related technologies. But the Biden Administration wants to recklessly stop these projects.

    For too long, American mining has been lapped by foreign countries. If these critical minerals are not produced domestically, they will be mined in other nations, some openly hostile to the United States and others that have notoriously poor human rights and environmental standards.

    https://gosar.house.gov/news/documentsingle.aspx?DocumentID=4399

Good luck getting enough raw materials to make this happen on any meaningful scale, Brandon.

taurus the judge | April 6, 2022 at 8:25 am

Again, don’t be fooled or otherwise misled by what amounts to “political prestidigitation” by those on a mission to deceive.

I don’t mine them (REE) but as a mining engineer in other areas, I am well aware of this knowledge and all people in mining are aware of this reality and the information is widely available to anyone who looks for it.

This is just but 1 of hundreds of like reports over the decades.

USGS Circular 1454. 2019 is one of the latest.

First lie- We (mainly NA but a large part in the US) have an abundance of REE present. All those tales of China having the monopoly are political kabuki and carnival barking to protect profits coming from them. Just a few are: Mountain Pass, Bear Lodge, Green Cove, Thor and Strange Lakes. (Not mentioning Canada)

Second lie- The “difficulty” people talk about in mining these is purely man and politically created and can vanish just that quick.

Giving China “preferred nation status” in production artificially gave them the financial advantage in market share and all the regulations we impose make it “cost more” ( by design to keep us from producing).

The left, through various means working in parallel to achieve the same goal of weakening us from within, have created a false narrative of us not having the REE ( which we do) and then support it by artificially stopping us from using it to our benefit and security.

Exactly like they are doing with coal, petroleum, our manufacturing capability and everything else.

Don’t believe the false narrative or buy the left “line” that we don’t have or cant produce- both are constructed lies.

    Why do you actually think the left is on a mission to device. What a bizzare notion. It might help your argument if you actually knew what the left a position actually is. It seems like you are just making stuff up. ‘i know let’s pretend the left want to take over the world because other people can’t possibly be motivated by something other than meglomania’.

      Fatkins in reply to Fatkins. | April 6, 2022 at 10:08 am

      *decieve not device
      Grrr

      taurus the judge in reply to Fatkins. | April 6, 2022 at 11:49 am

      Fat boy, I have forgotten more than your feeble mind is capable of comprehending.

      Ye shall know them by their fruits.

      Everything the left says and does is a lie bent on our destruction and none of it is “made up” except your excuses.

      Politico must really be hurting to have sent you back

        Honestly I’m still waiting for you to actually demonstrate any real knowledge. The very fact you can’t articulate what anyone on the left says on any issue and merely claim that everyone whos on the left is a liar seems to indicate a severe knowledge deficiency.

          taurus the judge in reply to Fatkins. | April 6, 2022 at 12:14 pm

          First, I don’t feed trolls

          Second, you need to demonstrate you are intellectually up to the challenge before I would even consider investing the time with you.

          Run back to Politico now and tell them you need reinforcements.

          Fatkins in reply to Fatkins. | April 6, 2022 at 12:26 pm

          What’s your obsession with politico. It’s not even on the left lol

          CommoChief in reply to Fatkins. | April 6, 2022 at 12:40 pm

          Fatkins,

          ‘Politico isn’t on the left’ …You have an unorthodox view of left/right.

          Tell you what complete the following exercise to provide context for your claim.
          On a linear scale list prominent publications from 1 indicating extreme left to 10 indicating extreme right. Do the same for prominent politicians currently holding office using the same scale.

          I am actually interested in your response.

          Fatkins in reply to Fatkins. | April 6, 2022 at 3:56 pm

          @commochief

          An interesting question, I’ve done quite a bit of thinking on this. In particular this link showing a media graphic demonstrates my position fairly clearly with the caveat that it doesn’t really differentiate liberal with socialist/left wing media.

          https://www.marketwatch.com/story/how-biased-is-your-news-source-you-probably-wont-agree-with-this-chart-2018-02-28

          With respect to politico id say that its accurate but should probably be listed as having both a fact reporting position and an opinion piece position.

          Under your scale

          Politico = 4
          NYT = 4
          Slate = 3
          Jacobin = 2

          Fox news = 7.5
          News max = 8
          Daily wire = 8

          Politicians is a weird one, there are very few left leaning politicians in the US mostly the Democrats operate a centre right party and the GOP span centre right through to far right. But i think its slightly misleading to just talk about right/left, a lot of the politicians really are just grifters with particular demographics

          Corporate democrats
          Hilary clinton = 6
          Pelosi = 6
          Manchin = 7

          Progressive democrats
          BSanders = 3
          AOC =3

          Corporate Republicans
          Romney = 7
          Murkowski = 7

          Culture wars grifters
          Ted Cruz = 8
          Cotton = 8
          MGT – 8.5
          Gaetz = 8.5

          Fatkins in reply to Fatkins. | April 6, 2022 at 3:58 pm

          @Commochief

          Actually I don’t really have an unorthodox view of left and right, you can analyze it in terms of policy and that’s not localised on the US. The US sits much further right than most western democracies.

          CommoChief in reply to Fatkins. | April 6, 2022 at 6:26 pm

          Fatkins,

          I appreciate that response. However let’s limit the exercise to influential or mass print publications in the US or UK using their editorial page as the basis. For example I would say that the Economist Mag is a 5 1/2 to 6; center right on economic issues which is their forte but broadly center left on social policies.

          If you offer cable news then for actual comparison sake lets use the top networks in the US in terms of viewers and the same for the UK. How many networks are right v left in the UK? In American terms we would consider the BBC is center left at best and that’s charitable.

          I suspect you will find that the number of ‘right’ publications is far outnumbered by the number of ‘left’ publications. Just as in broadcast media.

          CommoChief in reply to Fatkins. | April 6, 2022 at 6:35 pm

          Perhaps a better starting point to determine the scale would be: Extreme left (Karl Marx) is a 1 while the extreme right opposite at 10 would be Ayn Rand. Fill in the rest and then using that as a guide place current publications and politicians on the scale.

      henrybowman in reply to Fatkins. | April 6, 2022 at 9:42 pm

      Look! Fatkins accuses other people of “making stuff up.”

      Ironclaw in reply to Fatkins. | April 8, 2022 at 12:32 am

      Decades of observation. You communists are pure evil.

Power corrupts. Powers granted for a specific purpose will be used for corrupt ends.

This is the Biden administration. How much of the money this makes available will flow into the big guy’s pocket? Or into the pockets of cronies such as Kamala Harris or Barack Obama or anyone in their orbits?

One way or another, Slow Joe will shove the Sparky cars down our throats.

    Ironclaw in reply to Romey. | April 8, 2022 at 12:36 am

    I don’t give a shit what that pedophile wants ,I don’t cooperate with communists, totalitarians or pedophiles … and he’s all three.

This is a meaningless gesture by Biden because the mining companies and landowners still need to deal with the raft of regulations imposed by the EPA, which are NOT waived, and the well funded environmental groups who routinely and frequently sue any mining company for various offenses.

Camperfixer | April 6, 2022 at 9:47 am

Yet another federal Lefty overreach symbolism over substance move. The Dems propagate a demand (wind/solar/ev’s, while eschewing SMR’s and other clean energy nuclear sources, then force the avenue which their thinly veiled Socialist agenda can be realized.

The Federal government has no business promoting one thing over another. Those in power have generated the false belief they can run open loop with our money and resources. This is another grift. Read “It’s not yours to give/Davy Crockett.

    Fatkins in reply to Camperfixer. | April 6, 2022 at 10:23 am

    The government has spent years promoting oil and gas over everything else. What do you think the oil and gas lobby do?

      Camperfixer in reply to Fatkins. | April 6, 2022 at 11:36 am

      Oil and gas is modern life…everything is derived from it. We have options for electric generation to alleviate full reliance on OnG.

      EVERY lobby firm should be booted from K Street, no more”special interests” (aka “grifters”), let the market decide. That’ll clear out the reprobates because the money will dry up…mostly.

        Fatkins in reply to Camperfixer. | April 6, 2022 at 11:55 am

        Not really, electricity is modern life. Which can come from multiple sources and not just oil and gas.

        With respect to lobbying firms , I’d agree

          txvet2 in reply to Fatkins. | April 6, 2022 at 12:19 pm

          “”Which can come from multiple sources””

          All of which need petrolelum to function.

          txvet2 in reply to Fatkins. | April 6, 2022 at 12:20 pm

          Oops, petroleum. Sorry.

          Fatkins in reply to Fatkins. | April 6, 2022 at 12:25 pm

          Nope solar, wind, hydro and nuclear do not need petroleum.

          txvet2 in reply to Fatkins. | April 6, 2022 at 12:41 pm

          Proving only that you have no idea what you’re talking about.

          CommoChief in reply to Fatkins. | April 6, 2022 at 12:50 pm

          ‘Solar, wind and hydro don’t need petroleum’?

          What are the base materials? How are these materials extracted? Transported to initial processing? Transported to manufacturers? What mode of transportation do the workers in that manufacturing facility use to arrive at work? No petroleum or petroleum products used in the manufacturing facility? Transport to site of installation? Worker transport to job site? On site? On going maintenance? Including removal of ice from wind turbine in winter? Replacement parts?

          Magic doesn’t make all those things occur. Petroleum does. Refusing to acknowledge that truth discredits your ability to persuade because you begin from a position of dishonesty.

          txvet2 in reply to Fatkins. | April 6, 2022 at 2:20 pm

          Oh, Chief, you take all of the fun out of baiting the idiot.

          henrybowman in reply to Fatkins. | April 6, 2022 at 9:46 pm

          LI, if I can find 10 of us readers to send in $100 each, will you task your web designers to introduce a mute/block button?

          Ironclaw in reply to Fatkins. | April 8, 2022 at 12:38 am

          Never mind all of the other stuff we get from oil and gas that make modern life possible. Stuff like plastics and fertilizers. Try living your life without stuff that either is made of or derives from them, I dare you.

Let’s stipulate for a moment that this would also remove the block that environmental regulation and the lawsuits from various entities opposed to resource development employ. They still have to identify project sites, buy adjacent land, then begin development. Of course pulling it out of a hole isn’t the end. These ores must be refined, do we have domestic capacity to do so? How much excess capacity exists to use the refined ore and manufacture batteries domestically?

Where is the long term plan for continued waiver of these regulations? Financing? Who’s capital is being used to pay for all this? Investors need a profit to tempt them. Even the DPA has a formula to reward investment and allocation of resources. IMO, this is a PR stunt just like the release of oil from SPR.

E Howard Hunt | April 6, 2022 at 10:42 am

Just look at this man! Obviously the zeitgeist view of history has won out over the great man.

Electric cars cost a lot more than entry level gasoline-powered cars. Loan costs on the extra purchase price will soon eat up any savings in fuel or maintenance, as interest rates are up a lot and rising. When people are struggling big time to put food on the table, with real inflation at 10-15% (as measured in the 1970’s), Uncle Sam will have to interfere big time in the marketplace and pay you to buy them.

Aside from that is the massive ship fire that sunk $400M worth of VW cars, attributed to electric car battery fires that could not be put out. If one of these catches fire in your garage, you could lose your house.

    randian in reply to jb4. | April 6, 2022 at 6:36 pm

    The reason electric cars are supposed to save you money is the people saying so know and use government accounting, where capital costs are one-time things and are not amortized over a span of years. That would be illegal if done by a private company, and misstates the actual economic impact of the expenditure. It’s easy for the government to spend a million dollars on a solar system to save $100 a month because all future budgets show a $100 a month savings, that million dollars they wasted has disappeared from memory.

    So yes that electric car saves you a few bucks on gas, as Biden says, so long as you ignore the capital costs (the car itself, the home charging system and electrical upgrades to support it) which swamp any fuel savings, and the ongoing electrical costs on top, which are by design (according to Obama) as expensive as possible.

Why is the potentially environmentally harmful production of heavy metals approved, but fossil fuel resource development stifled?

Because the actual goal is not environmental protection, it’s breaking the first world to force submission to the WEF’s agenda.

Which will, basically, kill billions and reduce the rest to agrarian poverty while the important people (aka government employees and cronies thereof) live like kings.

nraendowment | April 7, 2022 at 1:55 pm

Whoever is running that illegitimate shambling corpse of a president needs to be reminded that there isn’t enough lithium in the world to supply their unicorn-world battery fantasies.

They’re just evil, greedy thugs looking to profit from our misery, just like pfizer and the other scum.

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