Crom’s Crommentary: The Hypocrisy of Electric Vehicle Ownership and the Environmentally Destructive Process of Mining and Disposal of Lithium

Friday morning on The Tennessee Star Report, host Leahy welcomed the original all-star panelist Crom Carmichael to the studio for another edition of Crom’s Crommentary.

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Commentary: More Mining at Home Is a Win-Win for Environment and Defense

This week, the U.S. Senate Energy Committee is examining the feasibility of building domestic supply chains for crucial minerals. The U.S. is currently completely dependent on imports of rare earth elements (REEs) that will determine whether the Biden Administration’s environmental and electrification goals are met. REEs also are used in essential defense systems like fighter jet engines, missile guidance and defense systems, and secure communication networks. Regardless if you are a champion of environmental protection or a strong national defense, bringing crucial supply chains to the U.S. will result in less emissions, higher environmental standards, and more control over materials that are the key to a greener and more secure future.

Green technology that underpins solar panels, wind turbines, and the lithium-ion batteries that store energy all require REEs. Neodymium, cobalt, copper, and lithium are all used in electrical vehicles, and those minerals are just a few of the 17 key minerals that the U.S. is completely dependent on imports for, and they’re a fraction of 29 other minerals that the U.S. imports half its domestic needs.

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‘A Mad Scramble’: One Rare Mineral May Spell Doom for Electric Vehicle Market

Lithium — a mineral that is key for electric car batteries — continues to rise in price, jeopardizing the ongoing transition to renewable energy outlined by Western governments.

The cost of lithium has skyrocketed more than 250% over the last 12 months, hitting its highest level ever, according to an industry index from Benchmark Mineral Intelligence. While the cost of manufacturing a lithium-ion battery for an electric vehicle (EV) has fallen sharply over the last decade, the decline has slowed in recent months due to rising lithium costs.

The average cost of an EV battery pack fell to $157 per kilowatt hour, a measure of energy capacity, in 2021, the Department of Energy said in October. That means a typical EV battery is between $6,000 and $7,000, a BloombergNEF analysis showed.

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