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Free Markets Are the Best and Fastest Way to Cut Greenhouse Gas Emissions


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https://reason.com/2021/11/09/free-markets-are-the-best-and-fastest-way-to-cut-greenhouse-gas-emissions/

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Glasgow—The Freedom and Climate Symposium was convened on November 8 at Strathclyde University by the think tank the Conservative Coalition for Climate Solutions (C3 Solutions) as a concurrent event with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change's 26th Conference of the Parties (COP26). The symposium brought together energy entrepreneurs, finance experts, free market climate policy wonks, and young conservative climate activists to discuss the role of free markets in addressing the problem of man-made climate change and managing the energy transition from fossil fuels. The solutions discussed at this meeting stood in stark contrast to the government-mandated, top-down policies being promoted by most participants at COP26.

For example, the symposium featured such proposals as the Clean Capitalism Leadership Council's Rod Richardson's clean tax cuts as a technology-agnostic way to speed up the financing of technologies that cut emissions of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide released by burning fossil fuels. Meanwhile, venture capitalist and insurgent ExxonMobil board member Andy Karsner promoted the Climate Leadership Council's carbon fee and dividend plan, which would put a price on carbon dioxide emissions and rebate all of the revenues collected as annual dividends amounting to about $2,000 for a family of four.

Richardson argued that his proposal would lift constraints from entrepreneurs and investors whereas the carbon fee would impose burdens on consumers and businesses. Karsner countered that stable price signals were important to encourage investment and uptake of emissions reduction technologies. Some participants wondered if clean tax cuts would really incentivize clean energy investments, since at current interest rates the price of capital is already pretty low. Others worried about public reaction when carbon emissions started to fall and dividend checks began to dwindle.

Markets are already playing a clear role in cleaning up the environment. And, generally speaking, the more free market a country is, the cleaner its environment is. A freer market also means that a country's carbon emissions are already falling. C3 Solutions' Director of Public Policy Nick Loris made this clear in his report, "Free Economies are Clean Economies."

Loris used data from the Heritage Foundation's Index of Economic Freedom that ranks 180 countries on a 100-point scale evaluating measures such as how well they protect property rights, government size, regulatory efficiency, and openness of their markets. Based on these calculations, the Index labels countries as repressed, mostly unfree, moderately free, mostly free, and free. Loris then compared these economic freedom rankings with Yale University's Environmental Performance Index, which ranks 180 countries on a 100-point scale, judging their performance with respect to air and water pollution, biodiversity, agriculture, and climate change.

Loris found that the correlation between economic freedom and cleaner natural environments is robust.

EconFreedomEnvironLoris2-2.jpg Loris/C3 Solutions

The U.S. is 20th in the freedom rankings and is ranked 24th on the environmental performance index. China, by contrast, stands at 107th in the freedom index and 120th on the environmental performance scale.

 

Loris argued that the correlation between freedom and environmental quality confirms the notion of the environmental Kuznets curve (EKC), a concept that says that the natural environment initially deteriorates as industrial development takes off but begins to improve as incomes increase and now wealthier people demand cleaner water, clearer air, and environmental amenities like parks. Although there is still considerable debate over whether an EKC for carbon dioxide emissions exists, Loris cited a recent study by University of Aarhus researcher Christian Bjørnskov analyzing the income and emissions trends in 155 countries since 1975. Bjørnskov found that carbon dioxide emissions begin to decline in a country when average income reaches around $52,000 per person. In addition, he found that emissions of greenhouse gases in general start decreasing from a GDP level of approximately $25,000.

Consequently, Bjørnskov found that rich, economically free democracies such as Australia, Canada, the U.S., and much of Northern Europe have likely already passed the turning point of the carbon dioxide Kuznets curve. It is worth noting that U.S. carbon dioxide emissions peaked in 2007 when per capita income reached about $48,000.

"Environmental Kuznets Curves are typically situated to the left in economically free societies, indicating earlier adoption of clean technology and faster transition towards a low-emissions society," concluded Bjørnskov. "Conversely, although many of them proclaim a better environment as a central political aim, interventionist governments are likely to achieve the opposite."

Agreed.  Let the free market solve the problem, because more government won't.

 

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On 11/10/2021 at 12:52 PM, swordfish said:

Does anyone else see the irony when the States are easily accepting federal dollars in the latest infrastructure bill they despise because the tax dollars from gasoline sales is actually down due to the higher gas mileage in the newer vehicles?  

No?

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So it doesn't occur to anyone on the left (DE) that the FACT that more fuel efficient vehicles on the road are actually bringing the use of fossil fuels lower (as demonstrated by the lower revenues being collected)?  Or maybe it doesn't fit their narrative that we all need to be driving EV's?  (Without the consideration of how much this move will pull from an electric grid already taxed pretty hard in many locations)  AND - in case you are wondering - we are not "running out of "Fossil Fuels".....

https://www.investors.com/politics/commentary/we-are-not-running-out-of-oil-earth-produces-crude/

Ever since M. King Hubbert in the 1950s convinced a lot of people with his "peak oil" theory that production would collapse and we'd eventually exhaust our crude supplies, the clock has been running. And running. And it will continue to run for some time, as technology and new discoveries show that there's still an ocean of oil under our feet.

 

Engineering and Technology Magazine reported this week that BP — the company that once wanted to be known as "Beyond Petroleum" rather than "British Petroleum" — is saying "the world is no longer at risk of running out of resources."

 

"Thanks to investment into supercomputers, robotics and the use of chemicals to extract the maximum from available reservoirs, the accessible oil and gas reserves will almost double by 2050," Engineering and Technology said.

 

A BP official told the magazine that "energy resources are plentiful. Concerns over running out of oil and gas have disappeared."

 

Things are so good, in fact, that Engineering and Technology says "with the use of the innovative technologies, available fossil fuel resources could increase from the current 2.9 trillion barrels of oil equivalent to 4.8 trillion by 2050, which is almost twice as much as the projected global demand." That number could even reach 7.5 trillion barrels if technology and exploration techniques advance even faster.

This information backs up the idea that Earth is actually an oil-producing machine. We call energy sources such as crude oil and natural gas fossil fuels based on the assumption that they are the products of decaying organisms, maybe even dinosaurs themselves. But the label is a misnomer. Research from the last decade found that hydrocarbons are synthesized abiotically.

 

In other words, as Science magazine has reported, the "data imply that hydrocarbons are produced chemically" from carbon found in Earth's mantle. Nature magazine calls the product of this process an "unexpected bounty " of "natural gas and the building blocks of oil products."

 

So don't feel guilty about exploiting this "bounty." There seems to be plenty to go around — and there will probably still be a lot left when technology, not hurried by government mandates and subsidies but guided by market forces, produces practical and affordable renewable energy.

But for now, enjoy our cheap, abundant and efficient "fossil" fuels.

OR - Invest in lithium company stocks.......(The new crude oil)

https://www.forbes.com/sites/danrunkevicius/2020/12/07/as-tesla-booms-lithium-is-running-out/?sh=54355c951a44

 

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  • 4 months later...

So much for the "Green" harvesting sector of the "Green" lithium battery industry for all the new "Green" electric vehicles.......Stomping on the Native Americans, contaminating ground water for up to 300 years, all in a process using gas powered behemoths that will consume more gasoline than the minerals they mine will be able to offset, especially when (come to find out) "Fossil Fuels" are not running out and instead these minerals are not replaceable anytime soon..... - pretty ironic that the left-wing liberals seem to be OK with this....... 

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/05/06/business/lithium-mining-race.html

Atop a long-dormant volcano in northern Nevada, workers are preparing to start blasting and digging out a giant pit that will serve as the first new large-scale lithium mine in the United States in more than a decade — a new domestic supply of an essential ingredient in electric car batteries and renewable energy.

The mine, constructed on leased federal lands, could help address the near total reliance by the United States on foreign sources of lithium.

But the project, known as Lithium Americas, has drawn protests from members of a Native American tribe, ranchers and environmental groups because it is expected to use billions of gallons of precious ground water, potentially contaminating some of it for 300 years, while leaving behind a giant mound of waste.

“Blowing up a mountain isn’t green, no matter how much marketing spin people put on it,” said Max Wilbert, who has been living in a tent on the proposed mine site while two lawsuits seeking to block the project wend their way through federal courts.

The fight over the Nevada mine is emblematic of a fundamental tension surfacing around the world: Electric cars and renewable energy may not be as green as they appear. Production of raw materials like lithium, cobalt and nickel that are essential to these technologies are often ruinous to land, water, wildlife and people.

That environmental toll has often been overlooked in part because there is a race underway among the United States, China, Europe and other major powers. Echoing past contests and wars over gold and oil, governments are fighting for supremacy over minerals that could help countries achieve economic and technological dominance for decades to come.

Developers and lawmakers see this Nevada project, given final approval in the last days of the Trump administration, as part of the opportunity for the United States to become a leader in producing some of these raw materials as President Biden moves aggressively to fight climate change. In addition to Nevada, businesses have proposed lithium production sites in California, OregonTennessee, Arkansas and North Carolina.

But traditional mining is one of the dirtiest businesses out there. That reality is not lost on automakers and renewable-energy businesses.

“Our new clean-energy demands could be creating greater harm, even though its intention is to do good,” said Aimee Boulanger, executive director for the Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance, a group that vets mines for companies like BMW and Ford Motor. “We can’t allow that to happen.

Just in the first three months of 2021, U.S. lithium miners like those in Nevada raised nearly $3.5 billion from Wall Street — seven times the amount raised in the prior 36 months, according to data assembled by Bloomberg, and a hint of the frenzy underway.

Some of those investors are backing alternatives including a plan to extract lithium from briny water beneath California’s largest lake, the Salton Sea, about 600 miles south of the Lithium Americas site.

At the Salton Sea, investors plan to use specially coated beads to extract lithium salt from the hot liquid pumped up from an aquifer more than 4,000 feet below the surface. The self-contained systems will be connected to geothermal power plants generating emission-free electricity. And in the process, they hope to generate the revenue needed to restore the lake, which has been fouled by toxic runoff from area farms for decades.

Businesses are also hoping to extract lithium from brine in ArkansasNevadaNorth Dakota and at least one more location in the United States.

The United States needs to quickly find new supplies of lithium as automakers ramp up manufacturing of electric vehicles. Lithium is used in electric car batteries because it is lightweight, can store lots of energy and can be repeatedly recharged. Analysts estimate that lithium demand is going to increase tenfold before the end of this decade as Tesla, VolkswagenGeneral Motors and other automakers introduce dozens of electric models. Other ingredients like cobalt are needed to keep the battery stable.

Even though the United States has some of the world’s largest reserves, the country today has only one large-scale lithium mine, Silver Peak in Nevada, which first opened in the 1960s and is producing just 5,000 tons a year — less than 2 percent of the world’s annual supply. Most of the raw lithium used domestically comes from Latin America or Australia, and most of it is processed and turned into battery cells in China and other Asian countries

“China just put out its next five-year plan,” Mr. Biden’s energy secretary, Jennifer Granholm, said in a recent interview. “They want to be the go-to place for the guts of the batteries, yet we have these minerals in the United States. We have not taken advantage of them, to mine them.”

In March, she announced grants to increase production of crucial minerals. “This is a race to the future that America is going to win,” she said.

So far, the Biden administration has not moved to help push more environmentally friendly options — like lithium brine extraction, instead of open pit mines. The Interior Department declined to say whether it would shift its stand on the Lithium Americas permit, which it is defending in court.

Mining companies and related businesses want to accelerate domestic production of lithium and are pressing the administration and key lawmakers to insert a $10 billion grant program into Mr. Biden’s infrastructure bill, arguing that it is a matter of national security.

“Right now, if China decided to cut off the U.S. for a variety of reasons we’re in trouble,” said Ben Steinberg, an Obama administration official turned lobbyist. He was hired in January by Piedmont Lithium, which is working to build an open-pit mine in North Carolina and is one of several companies that have created a trade association for the industry.

Investors are rushing to get permits for new mines and begin production to secure contracts with battery companies and automakers.

Ultimately, federal and state officials will decide which of the two methods — traditional mining or brine extraction — is approved. Both could take hold. Much will depend on how successful environmentalists, tribes and local groups are in blocking projects. 

On a hillside, Edward Bartell or his ranch employees are out early every morning making sure that the nearly 500 cows and calves that roam his 50,000 acres in Nevada’s high desert have enough feed. It has been a routine for generations, but the family has never before faced a threat quite like this.

A few miles from his ranch, work could soon start on Lithium Americas’ open pit mine that will represent one of the largest lithium production sites in U.S. history, complete with a helicopter landing pad, a chemical processing plant and waste dumps. The mine will reach a depth of about 370 feet.

Mr. Bartell’s biggest fear is that the mine will consume the water that keeps his cattle alive. The company has said the mine will consume 3,224 gallons per minute. That could cause the water table to drop on land Mr. Bartell owns by an estimated 12 feet, according to a Lithium Americas consultant.

While producing 66,000 tons a year of battery-grade lithium carbonate, the mine may cause groundwater contamination with metals including antimony and arsenic, according to federal documents.

The lithium will be extracted by mixing clay dug out from the mountainside with as much as 5,800 tons a day of sulfuric acid. This whole process will also create 354 million cubic yards of mining waste that will be loaded with discharge from the sulfuric acid treatment, and may contain modestly radioactive uranium, permit documents disclose.

A December assessment by the Interior Department found that over its 41-year life, the mine would degrade nearly 5,000 acres of winter range used by pronghorn antelope and hurt the habitat of the sage grouse. It would probably also destroy a nesting area for a pair of golden eagles whose feathers are vital to the local tribe’s religious ceremonies.

“It is real frustrating that it is being pitched as an environmentally friendly project, when it is really a huge industrial site,” said Mr. Bartell, who filed a lawsuit to try to block the mine.

At the Fort McDermitt Indian Reservation, anger over the project has boiled over, even causing some fights between members as Lithium Americas has offered to hire tribal members in jobs that will pay an average annual wage of $62,675 — twice the county’s per capita income — but that will come with a big trade-off.

“Tell me, what water am I going to drink for 300 years?” Deland Hinkey, a member of the tribe, yelled as a federal official arrived at the reservation in March to brief tribal leaders on the mining plan. “Anybody, answer my question. After you contaminate my water, what I am going to drink for 300 years? You are lying!”

The reservation is nearly 50 miles from the mine site — and far beyond the area where groundwater may be contaminated — but tribe members fear the pollution could spread.

 

“It is really a David versus Goliath kind of a situation,” said Maxine Redstar, the leader of the Fort McDermitt Paiute and Shoshone Tribes, noting that there was limited consultation with the tribe before the Interior Department approved the project. “The mining companies are just major corporations.”

Tim Crowley, a vice president at Lithium Americas, said the company would operate responsibly — planning, for example, to use the steam from burning molten sulfur to generate the electricity it needs.

“We’re answering President Biden’s call to secure America’s supply chains and tackle the climate crisis,” Mr. Crowley said.

A spokesman noted that area ranchers also used a lot of water and that the company had purchased its allocation from another farmer to limit the increase in water use.

The company has moved aggressively to secure permits, hiring a lobbying team that includes a former Trump White House aide, Jonathan Slemrod.

Lithium Americas, which estimates there is $3.9 billion worth of recoverable lithium at the site, hopes to start mining operations next year. Its largest shareholder is the Chinese company Ganfeng Lithium.

A Second Act

The desert sands surrounding the Salton Sea have drawn worldwide notice before. They have served as a location for Hollywood productions like the “Star Wars” franchise.

Created by flooding from the Colorado River more than a century ago, the lake once thrived. Frank Sinatra performed at its resorts. Over the years, drought and poor management turned it into a source of pollutants.

But a new wave of investors is promoting the lake as one of the most promising and environmentally friendly lithium prospects in the United States.

Lithium extraction from brine has long been used in Chile, Bolivia and Argentina, where the sun is used over nearly two years to evaporate water from sprawling ponds. It is relatively inexpensive, but it uses lots of water in arid areas.

The approach planned at the Salton Sea is radically different from the one traditionally used in South America.

The lake sits atop the Salton Buttes, which, as in Nevada, are underground volcanoes.

For years, a company owned by Berkshire Hathaway, CalEnergy, and another business, Energy Source, have tapped the Buttes’ geothermal heat to produce electricity. The systems use naturally occurring underground steam. This same water is loaded with lithium.

Now, Berkshire Hathaway and two other companies — Controlled Thermal Resources and Materials Research — want to install equipment that will extract lithium after the water passes through the geothermal plants, in a process that will take only about two hours.

Rod Colwell, a burly Australian, has spent much of the last decade pitching investors and lawmakers on putting the brine to use. In February, a backhoe plowed dirt on a 7,000-acre site being developed by his company, Controlled Thermal Resources.

“This is the sweet spot,” Mr. Colwell said. “This is the most sustainable lithium in the world, made in America. Who would have thought it? We’ve got this massive opportunity.”

A Berkshire Hathaway executive told state officials recently that the company expected to complete its demonstration plant for lithium extraction by April 2022.

The backers of the Salton Sea lithium projects are also working with local groups and hope to offer good jobs in an area that has an unemployment rate of nearly 16 percent.

“Our region is very rich in natural resources and mineral resources,” said Luis Olmedo, executive director of Comite Civico del Valle, which represents area farm workers. “However, they’re very poorly distributed. The population has not been afforded a seat at the table.”

The state has given millions in grants to lithium extraction companies, and the Legislature is considering requiring carmakers by 2035 to use California sources for some of the lithium in vehicles they sell in the state, the country’s largest electric-car market.

But even these projects have raised some questions.

Geothermal plants produce energy without emissions, but they can require tens of billions of gallons of water annually for cooling. And lithium extraction from brine dredges up minerals like iron and salt that need to be removed before the brine is injected back into the ground.

Similar extraction efforts at the Salton Sea have previously failed. In 2000, CalEnergy proposed spending $200 million to extract zinc and to help restore the Salton Sea. The company gave up on the effort in 2004.

But several companies working on the direct lithium extraction technique — including Lilac Solutions, based in California, and Standard Lithium of Vancouver, British Columbia — are confident they have mastered the technology.

Both companies have opened demonstration projects using the brine extraction technology, with Standard Lithium tapping into a brine source already being extracted from the ground by an Arkansas chemical plant, meaning it did not need to take additional water from the ground.

“This green aspect is incredibly important,” said Robert Mintak, chief executive of Standard Lithium, who hopes the company will produce 21,000 tons a year of lithium in Arkansas within five years if it can raise $440 million in financing. “The Fred Flintstone approach is not the solution to the lithium challenge.”

Lilac Solutions, whose clients include Controlled Thermal Resources, is also working on direct lithium extraction in Nevada, North Dakota and at least one other U.S. location that it would not disclose. The company predicts that within five years, these projects could produce about 100,000 tons of lithium annually, or 20 times current domestic production.

Executives from companies like Lithium Americas question if these more innovative approaches can deliver all the lithium the world needs.

But automakers are keen to pursue approaches that have a much smaller impact on the environment.

“Indigenous tribes being pushed out or their water being poisoned or any of those types of issues, we just don’t want to be party to that,” said Sue Slaughter, Ford’s purchasing director for supply chain sustainability. “We really want to force the industries that we’re buying materials from to make sure that they’re doing it in a responsible way. As an industry, we are going to be buying so much of these materials that we do have significant power to leverage that situation very strongly. And we intend to do that.”

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25 minutes ago, swordfish said:

So much for the "Green" harvesting sector of the "Green" lithium battery industry for all the new "Green" electric vehicles.......Stomping on the Native Americans, contaminating ground water for up to 300 years, all in a process using gas powered behemoths that will consume more gasoline than the minerals they mine will be able to offset, especially when (come to find out) "Fossil Fuels" are not running out and instead these minerals are not replaceable anytime soon..... - pretty ironic that the left-wing liberals seem to be OK with this....... 

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/05/06/business/lithium-mining-race.html

Atop a long-dormant volcano in northern Nevada, workers are preparing to start blasting and digging out a giant pit that will serve as the first new large-scale lithium mine in the United States in more than a decade — a new domestic supply of an essential ingredient in electric car batteries and renewable energy.

The mine, constructed on leased federal lands, could help address the near total reliance by the United States on foreign sources of lithium.

But the project, known as Lithium Americas, has drawn protests from members of a Native American tribe, ranchers and environmental groups because it is expected to use billions of gallons of precious ground water, potentially contaminating some of it for 300 years, while leaving behind a giant mound of waste.

“Blowing up a mountain isn’t green, no matter how much marketing spin people put on it,” said Max Wilbert, who has been living in a tent on the proposed mine site while two lawsuits seeking to block the project wend their way through federal courts.

The fight over the Nevada mine is emblematic of a fundamental tension surfacing around the world: Electric cars and renewable energy may not be as green as they appear. Production of raw materials like lithium, cobalt and nickel that are essential to these technologies are often ruinous to land, water, wildlife and people.

That environmental toll has often been overlooked in part because there is a race underway among the United States, China, Europe and other major powers. Echoing past contests and wars over gold and oil, governments are fighting for supremacy over minerals that could help countries achieve economic and technological dominance for decades to come.

Developers and lawmakers see this Nevada project, given final approval in the last days of the Trump administration, as part of the opportunity for the United States to become a leader in producing some of these raw materials as President Biden moves aggressively to fight climate change. In addition to Nevada, businesses have proposed lithium production sites in California, OregonTennessee, Arkansas and North Carolina.

But traditional mining is one of the dirtiest businesses out there. That reality is not lost on automakers and renewable-energy businesses.

“Our new clean-energy demands could be creating greater harm, even though its intention is to do good,” said Aimee Boulanger, executive director for the Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance, a group that vets mines for companies like BMW and Ford Motor. “We can’t allow that to happen.

Just in the first three months of 2021, U.S. lithium miners like those in Nevada raised nearly $3.5 billion from Wall Street — seven times the amount raised in the prior 36 months, according to data assembled by Bloomberg, and a hint of the frenzy underway.

Some of those investors are backing alternatives including a plan to extract lithium from briny water beneath California’s largest lake, the Salton Sea, about 600 miles south of the Lithium Americas site.

At the Salton Sea, investors plan to use specially coated beads to extract lithium salt from the hot liquid pumped up from an aquifer more than 4,000 feet below the surface. The self-contained systems will be connected to geothermal power plants generating emission-free electricity. And in the process, they hope to generate the revenue needed to restore the lake, which has been fouled by toxic runoff from area farms for decades.

Businesses are also hoping to extract lithium from brine in ArkansasNevadaNorth Dakota and at least one more location in the United States.

The United States needs to quickly find new supplies of lithium as automakers ramp up manufacturing of electric vehicles. Lithium is used in electric car batteries because it is lightweight, can store lots of energy and can be repeatedly recharged. Analysts estimate that lithium demand is going to increase tenfold before the end of this decade as Tesla, VolkswagenGeneral Motors and other automakers introduce dozens of electric models. Other ingredients like cobalt are needed to keep the battery stable.

Even though the United States has some of the world’s largest reserves, the country today has only one large-scale lithium mine, Silver Peak in Nevada, which first opened in the 1960s and is producing just 5,000 tons a year — less than 2 percent of the world’s annual supply. Most of the raw lithium used domestically comes from Latin America or Australia, and most of it is processed and turned into battery cells in China and other Asian countries

“China just put out its next five-year plan,” Mr. Biden’s energy secretary, Jennifer Granholm, said in a recent interview. “They want to be the go-to place for the guts of the batteries, yet we have these minerals in the United States. We have not taken advantage of them, to mine them.”

In March, she announced grants to increase production of crucial minerals. “This is a race to the future that America is going to win,” she said.

So far, the Biden administration has not moved to help push more environmentally friendly options — like lithium brine extraction, instead of open pit mines. The Interior Department declined to say whether it would shift its stand on the Lithium Americas permit, which it is defending in court.

Mining companies and related businesses want to accelerate domestic production of lithium and are pressing the administration and key lawmakers to insert a $10 billion grant program into Mr. Biden’s infrastructure bill, arguing that it is a matter of national security.

“Right now, if China decided to cut off the U.S. for a variety of reasons we’re in trouble,” said Ben Steinberg, an Obama administration official turned lobbyist. He was hired in January by Piedmont Lithium, which is working to build an open-pit mine in North Carolina and is one of several companies that have created a trade association for the industry.

Investors are rushing to get permits for new mines and begin production to secure contracts with battery companies and automakers.

Ultimately, federal and state officials will decide which of the two methods — traditional mining or brine extraction — is approved. Both could take hold. Much will depend on how successful environmentalists, tribes and local groups are in blocking projects. 

On a hillside, Edward Bartell or his ranch employees are out early every morning making sure that the nearly 500 cows and calves that roam his 50,000 acres in Nevada’s high desert have enough feed. It has been a routine for generations, but the family has never before faced a threat quite like this.

A few miles from his ranch, work could soon start on Lithium Americas’ open pit mine that will represent one of the largest lithium production sites in U.S. history, complete with a helicopter landing pad, a chemical processing plant and waste dumps. The mine will reach a depth of about 370 feet.

Mr. Bartell’s biggest fear is that the mine will consume the water that keeps his cattle alive. The company has said the mine will consume 3,224 gallons per minute. That could cause the water table to drop on land Mr. Bartell owns by an estimated 12 feet, according to a Lithium Americas consultant.

While producing 66,000 tons a year of battery-grade lithium carbonate, the mine may cause groundwater contamination with metals including antimony and arsenic, according to federal documents.

The lithium will be extracted by mixing clay dug out from the mountainside with as much as 5,800 tons a day of sulfuric acid. This whole process will also create 354 million cubic yards of mining waste that will be loaded with discharge from the sulfuric acid treatment, and may contain modestly radioactive uranium, permit documents disclose.

A December assessment by the Interior Department found that over its 41-year life, the mine would degrade nearly 5,000 acres of winter range used by pronghorn antelope and hurt the habitat of the sage grouse. It would probably also destroy a nesting area for a pair of golden eagles whose feathers are vital to the local tribe’s religious ceremonies.

“It is real frustrating that it is being pitched as an environmentally friendly project, when it is really a huge industrial site,” said Mr. Bartell, who filed a lawsuit to try to block the mine.

At the Fort McDermitt Indian Reservation, anger over the project has boiled over, even causing some fights between members as Lithium Americas has offered to hire tribal members in jobs that will pay an average annual wage of $62,675 — twice the county’s per capita income — but that will come with a big trade-off.

“Tell me, what water am I going to drink for 300 years?” Deland Hinkey, a member of the tribe, yelled as a federal official arrived at the reservation in March to brief tribal leaders on the mining plan. “Anybody, answer my question. After you contaminate my water, what I am going to drink for 300 years? You are lying!”

The reservation is nearly 50 miles from the mine site — and far beyond the area where groundwater may be contaminated — but tribe members fear the pollution could spread.

 

“It is really a David versus Goliath kind of a situation,” said Maxine Redstar, the leader of the Fort McDermitt Paiute and Shoshone Tribes, noting that there was limited consultation with the tribe before the Interior Department approved the project. “The mining companies are just major corporations.”

Tim Crowley, a vice president at Lithium Americas, said the company would operate responsibly — planning, for example, to use the steam from burning molten sulfur to generate the electricity it needs.

“We’re answering President Biden’s call to secure America’s supply chains and tackle the climate crisis,” Mr. Crowley said.

A spokesman noted that area ranchers also used a lot of water and that the company had purchased its allocation from another farmer to limit the increase in water use.

The company has moved aggressively to secure permits, hiring a lobbying team that includes a former Trump White House aide, Jonathan Slemrod.

Lithium Americas, which estimates there is $3.9 billion worth of recoverable lithium at the site, hopes to start mining operations next year. Its largest shareholder is the Chinese company Ganfeng Lithium.

A Second Act

The desert sands surrounding the Salton Sea have drawn worldwide notice before. They have served as a location for Hollywood productions like the “Star Wars” franchise.

Created by flooding from the Colorado River more than a century ago, the lake once thrived. Frank Sinatra performed at its resorts. Over the years, drought and poor management turned it into a source of pollutants.

But a new wave of investors is promoting the lake as one of the most promising and environmentally friendly lithium prospects in the United States.

Lithium extraction from brine has long been used in Chile, Bolivia and Argentina, where the sun is used over nearly two years to evaporate water from sprawling ponds. It is relatively inexpensive, but it uses lots of water in arid areas.

The approach planned at the Salton Sea is radically different from the one traditionally used in South America.

The lake sits atop the Salton Buttes, which, as in Nevada, are underground volcanoes.

For years, a company owned by Berkshire Hathaway, CalEnergy, and another business, Energy Source, have tapped the Buttes’ geothermal heat to produce electricity. The systems use naturally occurring underground steam. This same water is loaded with lithium.

Now, Berkshire Hathaway and two other companies — Controlled Thermal Resources and Materials Research — want to install equipment that will extract lithium after the water passes through the geothermal plants, in a process that will take only about two hours.

Rod Colwell, a burly Australian, has spent much of the last decade pitching investors and lawmakers on putting the brine to use. In February, a backhoe plowed dirt on a 7,000-acre site being developed by his company, Controlled Thermal Resources.

“This is the sweet spot,” Mr. Colwell said. “This is the most sustainable lithium in the world, made in America. Who would have thought it? We’ve got this massive opportunity.”

A Berkshire Hathaway executive told state officials recently that the company expected to complete its demonstration plant for lithium extraction by April 2022.

The backers of the Salton Sea lithium projects are also working with local groups and hope to offer good jobs in an area that has an unemployment rate of nearly 16 percent.

“Our region is very rich in natural resources and mineral resources,” said Luis Olmedo, executive director of Comite Civico del Valle, which represents area farm workers. “However, they’re very poorly distributed. The population has not been afforded a seat at the table.”

The state has given millions in grants to lithium extraction companies, and the Legislature is considering requiring carmakers by 2035 to use California sources for some of the lithium in vehicles they sell in the state, the country’s largest electric-car market.

But even these projects have raised some questions.

Geothermal plants produce energy without emissions, but they can require tens of billions of gallons of water annually for cooling. And lithium extraction from brine dredges up minerals like iron and salt that need to be removed before the brine is injected back into the ground.

Similar extraction efforts at the Salton Sea have previously failed. In 2000, CalEnergy proposed spending $200 million to extract zinc and to help restore the Salton Sea. The company gave up on the effort in 2004.

But several companies working on the direct lithium extraction technique — including Lilac Solutions, based in California, and Standard Lithium of Vancouver, British Columbia — are confident they have mastered the technology.

Both companies have opened demonstration projects using the brine extraction technology, with Standard Lithium tapping into a brine source already being extracted from the ground by an Arkansas chemical plant, meaning it did not need to take additional water from the ground.

“This green aspect is incredibly important,” said Robert Mintak, chief executive of Standard Lithium, who hopes the company will produce 21,000 tons a year of lithium in Arkansas within five years if it can raise $440 million in financing. “The Fred Flintstone approach is not the solution to the lithium challenge.”

Lilac Solutions, whose clients include Controlled Thermal Resources, is also working on direct lithium extraction in Nevada, North Dakota and at least one other U.S. location that it would not disclose. The company predicts that within five years, these projects could produce about 100,000 tons of lithium annually, or 20 times current domestic production.

Executives from companies like Lithium Americas question if these more innovative approaches can deliver all the lithium the world needs.

But automakers are keen to pursue approaches that have a much smaller impact on the environment.

“Indigenous tribes being pushed out or their water being poisoned or any of those types of issues, we just don’t want to be party to that,” said Sue Slaughter, Ford’s purchasing director for supply chain sustainability. “We really want to force the industries that we’re buying materials from to make sure that they’re doing it in a responsible way. As an industry, we are going to be buying so much of these materials that we do have significant power to leverage that situation very strongly. And we intend to do that.”

🙈🙉🙊

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1 hour ago, swordfish said:

So much for the "Green" harvesting sector of the "Green" lithium battery industry for all the new "Green" electric vehicles.......Stomping on the Native Americans, contaminating ground water for up to 300 years, all in a process using gas powered behemoths that will consume more gasoline than the minerals they mine will be able to offset, especially when (come to find out) "Fossil Fuels" are not running out and instead these minerals are not replaceable anytime soon..... - pretty ironic that the left-wing liberals seem to be OK with this....... 

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/05/06/business/lithium-mining-race.html

 

Yep. If it is a material that is  put into a battery, solar cell, or windmill then any form of exploitation to get such material is justified.  Think about the planet!

 

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  • 1 month later...

SF spent the weekend and early this week in DC at our industry's annual committee week.  As I was commuting around I noticed the vast amount of parking garages and parking lots where I also noticed the EV charging stations that (as expected) are more prevalent than here in Indiana.  Research shows there are currently 3.8 million vehicles registered in the DC area - which also raised the question - What is this city going to do when that number grows to numbers after the auto manufacturers are tooling towards, and the Federal Government is eying mandates to make this happen sooner than later in their efforts to break away from fossil fuels?  In a single multi-level park garage (where a lot of people park near where they live and work - there are a lot of these garages in DC) it would require hundreds of chargers to be installed in each one AND an energy infrastructure to support them.  How's that gonna work, or is it even possible??

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2 hours ago, swordfish said:

SF spent the weekend and early this week in DC at our industry's annual committee week.  As I was commuting around I noticed the vast amount of parking garages and parking lots where I also noticed the EV charging stations that (as expected) are more prevalent than here in Indiana.  Research shows there are currently 3.8 million vehicles registered in the DC area - which also raised the question - What is this city going to do when that number grows to numbers after the auto manufacturers are tooling towards, and the Federal Government is eying mandates to make this happen sooner than later in their efforts to break away from fossil fuels?  In a single multi-level park garage (where a lot of people park near where they live and work - there are a lot of these garages in DC) it would require hundreds of chargers to be installed in each one AND an energy infrastructure to support them.  How's that gonna work, or is it even possible??

At least gas pumps are reliable:

https://www.businessinsider.com/electric-car-charging-reliability-broken-stations-ev-2022-5

Quote

...

A study of public electric-vehicle stations in California's Bay Area found that only 72.5% of chargers were operational. California has by far the most electric car owners of any state and has been a leader in electric and hybrid vehicles for years. But its charging infrastructure shows major reliability issues, the study, first reported by the San Francisco Chronicle, found. 

The survey was conducted by David Rempel, a retired professor of bioengineering at the University of California Berkeley, and Cool the Earth, a nonprofit focused on cutting carbon emissions. Volunteers visited 181 public DC fast-charging stations and tested the 657 individual charging plugs. A connector was labeled functional if it successfully charged an EV for two minutes or if volunteers observed an electric car was already charging. 

DC fast-chargers, sometimes called Level 3, are the most powerful type of charger and offer the quickest charge. Tesla Supercharger locations were not included in the survey because they only serve Tesla cars. 

A total of 22.7% of connectors were non-functioning due to problems including network connectivity issues, broken plugs, unresponsive screens, and payment system failures. Around 5% of connectors had cables that were too short to reach an EV's charging port, rendering them unusable. 

The findings mirror what Insider has experienced while testing EVs in the Northeast, where charging stations are plentiful but often broken or awaiting service. The study also contributes to a mounting body of research indicating that charging needs to become more convenient in order for mass adoption of battery-powered vehicles to occur.

A survey of 1,290 electric-car drivers by a California government agency found that 44% of owners saw operability or payment issues as barriers to charging. 

The situation could improve as electric cars grow in popularity and funding flows into the charging space. The White House announced in February it will provide $5 billion to help states shore up their charging infrastructure along major highways. 

 

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  • 1 month later...

Hybrid technology is the now. 
Battery technology is the future. 
The dirty little secret is the greenies can’t get past is the fact that “green” vehicles produce more Co2 in the manufacturing process than gas vehicles will produce over their lifetime. Hybrid tech gives us some of the benefits of battery, sans the huge amount of Co2 produced in manufacturing massive fuel cells. Coupled with savings in conventional fuels and emissions. 

Edited by Impartial_Observer
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2 hours ago, Impartial_Observer said:

Hybrid technology is the now. 
Battery technology is the future. 
The dirty little secret is the greenies can’t get past is the fact that “green” vehicles produce more Co2 in the manufacturing process than gas vehicles will produce over their lifetime. Hybrid tech gives us some of the benefits of battery, sans the huge amount of Co2 produced in manufacturing massive fuel cells. Coupled with savings in conventional fuels and emissions. 

Which begs the question, why did Honda opt to pretend leave Formula 1 citing it’s commitment to renewable energy propulsion. 

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It's demolition derby season at numerous county fairs around the country.   Been watching a bunch of them via YouTube.  Great stuff like the figure-eight trailer races at Rockford Speedway:

 

But watching these makes me wonder that the future holds for this great form of entertainment and sport once electric vehicles dominate the landscape.  Sorry, but I don't think watching a bunch of old Tesla's smashing into each other would be fun to watch.

 

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11 hours ago, Impartial_Observer said:

The dirty little secret is the greenies can’t get past is the fact that “green” vehicles produce more Co2 in the manufacturing process than gas vehicles will produce over their lifetime.

Sources please. 

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36 minutes ago, DanteEstonia said:

Sources please. 

Find them yourself, believe I made them up, whatever, I don’t care. 

9 hours ago, Muda69 said:

It's demolition derby season at numerous county fairs around the country.   Been watching a bunch of them via YouTube.  Great stuff like the figure-eight trailer races at Rockford Speedway:

 

But watching these makes me wonder that the future holds for this great form of entertainment and sport once electric vehicles dominate the landscape.  Sorry, but I don't think watching a bunch of old Tesla's smashing into each other would be fun to watch.

 

Then again, don’t batteries have a propensity for catching on fire if they’re damaged?

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13 hours ago, Impartial_Observer said:

Then again, don’t batteries have a propensity for catching on fire if they’re damaged?

They may, and I've seen a number of ICE's catching on fire during these demolition derby.  But probably what you won't see in an EV demo derby is the smoke/vapor from a damaged cooling system, and the loud rumble from all those 8-cylinders engines.  It just wouldn't be the same, and an inferior product.

 

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1 hour ago, Muda69 said:

They may, and I've seen a number of ICE's catching on fire during these demolition derby.  But probably what you won't see in an EV demo derby is the smoke/vapor from a damaged cooling system, and the loud rumble from all those 8-cylinders engines.  It just wouldn't be the same, and an inferior product.

 

No argument from me, as I’ve stated many times electric offers more speed, faster acceleration, more torque, etc, but it doesn’t sound like this:

 

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On 7/14/2022 at 7:44 AM, Impartial_Observer said:

Hybrid technology is the now. 
Battery technology is the future. 
The dirty little secret is the greenies can’t get past is the fact that “green” vehicles produce more Co2 in the manufacturing process than gas vehicles will produce over their lifetime. Hybrid tech gives us some of the benefits of battery, sans the huge amount of Co2 produced in manufacturing massive fuel cells. Coupled with savings in conventional fuels and emissions. 

12 hours ago, DanteEstonia said:

You are the kind of person to spread lies, so this is the annotation I'll give. 

SF is tired of the tit-tat yada-yada so I googled it.......Looks like IO is right.....

https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2021-11-03/cop26-evs-aren-t-as-green-as-you-think-the-supply-chain-is-carbon-intensive

 

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42 minutes ago, swordfish said:

SF is tired of the tit-tat yada-yada so I googled it.......Looks like IO is right.....

https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2021-11-03/cop26-evs-aren-t-as-green-as-you-think-the-supply-chain-is-carbon-intensive

 

One of the studies listed in what I read I felt like did a great job of examining the cradle to grave emissions per vehicle, all the way thru the supply chain. Lithium is fairly expensive (expense in this context is relating to Co2 production associated with manufacturing) to mine but it produces HUGE Co2 emissions in it’s processing. According to this study, and I forget the total “cost” of each vehicle in terms of Co2 emissions. But they figured a normal car’s lifespan is about 180K miles. The electric car would have to go over 400K before is becomes a net winner in emissions over gas vehicles. 
The bottom line all those people who keep touting “zero emissions”, they’re lying to you, and they’ve got their hand in your pocket the whole time they’re doing it. Hybrid is the now, let’s focus our short term THERE!

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