Biden to invoke Defense Production Act for electric vehicle battery materials
President Biden is set to invoke the Defense Production Act (DPA) as early as this week to step up production of minerals used to manufacture electric vehicle batteries, a source familiar the plans confirmed to The Hill.
Biden is set to issue a presidential determination to stoke domestic production of the minerals, which are used for both stationary batteries and vehicles. The person emphasized that the production will not bypass existing permitting or environmental review processes.
The addition of certain minerals, including lithium, cobalt, graphite, nickel and manganese, to the list of items covered under the law could give mining companies access to some $750 million under the DPA’s Title III fund, the person told The Hill.
The DPA, initially passed during the Korean War to boost aluminum and titanium production, grants the president authority to order domestic production ramped up of certain supplies. Former President Trump invoked it during the COVID-19 pandemic for meat production, while Biden used it shortly after taking office to ramp up production of pandemic-related supplies.
The person familiar told The Hill the White House will implement the order in collaboration with the Energy and Interior departments. The law will not be invoked for loans or direct purchases but rather funding for “feasibility studies, co-product and by-product production at current operations, and productivity/safety modernizations.”
As gas prices increase amid the Ukraine conflict, environmental groups have frequently called for the Biden administration to invoke the DPA to aid the development of alternative and renewable fuels.
Bipartisan members of Congress have also backed the idea. Earlier this month, Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), James Risch (R-Idaho) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.) called for Biden to invoke the DPA for battery materials.
They specifically cited the near-monopoly Chinese companies hold on production of the materials in question, writing, “Allowing our foreign mineral dependence to persist is a growing threat to U.S. national security, and we need to take every step to address it.”
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