Biden may invoke the Defense Production Act to produce more critical minerals needed for electric vehicles and clean energy technology

Reportedly, the White House is looking at possibly invoking the Defense Production Act in order to increase the domestic output of raw materials needed for the production of “clean energy” technology products.

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According to an official familiar with the plan, they say that U.S. President Biden is contemplating issuing a presidential determination to increase domestic production of critical minerals used for stationary large-capacity batteries and those used in electric vehicles, the Washington Post reports

The Defense Production Act was adopted by Congress in 1950 and gives the U.S. president the authority to “ensure the timely availability of private sector resources for national defense. Title III of the DPA provides unique economic authorities to mitigate industrial base shortfalls/risks and expand U.S. production capabilities to promote the “national defense”.”

The Defense Department states that “National defense” includes “Programs for military and energy production or construction, stockpiling, space, and any directly related activity, Critical infrastructure protection and restoration, Military or critical infrastructure assistance to foreign nations, Homeland security, Emergency preparedness”.

The official says that the presidential determination would include minerals such as lithium, nickel, graphite, cobalt, and manganese.

Producers would also get assistance under the Defense Production Act’s Title III fund, the WashingtonPost reports.

However, the official said that the determination would not include loans or direct purchases of those minerals, financial tools common under Title III.

In contrast, the government would be willing to fund feasibility studies and productivity modernizations. The Department of Defense, however, says that Title III “is not a technology development or R&D program.”

Some have warned that ramping up the production of these minerals could pose risks.

Bobby McEnaney, senior lands analyst with the Natural Resources Defense Council told the Washington Post that “Extraction can do more harm than good,”.

“It’s essential that these measures not be exploited in ways that run roughshod over common sense safeguards we all depend on to protect our families, communities and all they support.”

Adding that “what’s important now is that supplies of these strategic minerals be secured in ways that are reliable, durable and sustainable. Rather than just digging up or importing more, we should start with improved recovery and waste reduction throughout supply chains.”

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