SACRAMENTO — On Tuesday, Governor Gavin Newsom joined President Biden and community, labor and industry leaders to discuss new investments and actions to support California’s clean energy sector — outlining historic progress to sustainably develop lithium resources, an essential component of advanced batteries needed for zero-emission vehicles, clean power grids and other renewable energy technologies. California’s Imperial Valley contains some of the largest lithium deposits in the world, especially underground near the Salton Sea – an area also known as Lithium Valley.
“California’s Lithium Valley pledge is a game-changer in the nation’s transition to clean energy and zero-emission vehicles, which could be a breakthrough in the fight against climate change,” Governor Newsom said. “California is a global leader in clean energy, and today’s announcement represents promising potential for new economic opportunities, community benefits and good jobs right here in California.”
Governor Newsom’s Lithium Valley Vision positions the state to be a world leader in deploying new technologies and environmental protections capable of sustainably co-producing lithium with renewable electricity from geothermal power plants. Experts estimate that the region could meet up to a third of current global lithium demand. Governor Newsom is committed to creating a world-class battery manufacturing ecosystem alongside lithium production and processing that would increase economic opportunity and provide quality jobs and community benefits to the region.
Prior to the Governor’s meeting with the President, he met with community leaders and local leaders to discuss environmental and community impacts, as well as opportunities.
“The path to fighting climate change and moving our nation toward an equitable green economy begins and ends with greater environmental justice for frontline communities. Comite Civico del Valle applauds President Biden’s announcement on critical minerals and Governor Newsom’s commitment to supporting climate and economic development and delivering community benefits. We look forward to working with government leaders to ensure Imperial Valley environmental justice communities improve their environmental condition and increase access to the high road clean energy jobs of the future,” said Luis Olmedo, Executive Director of Comite Civico Del Valle, Inc.
According to a communication from the governor’s office, lithium is becoming an increasingly critical resource as the state — and the world — moves toward a clean energy future to address the climate crisis. This metal is a crucial component of the batteries needed to power electric vehicles, enable a 100% clean power grid, and keep the state’s homes and industries away from fossil fuels. Governor Newsom’s Lithium Valley Vision, as outlined in the California Blueprint, commits to a lithium infrastructure that:
- Provide incentives to advance the clean energy market in California.
- Offer Californians in the Imperial Valley a share of the profits from these projects.
- Include labor standards that provide community benefits, economic development and employment opportunities.
- Ensure lithium production is done in a clean and sustainable manner.
The Blueprint also includes a new tax credit for those who choose to develop green energy technologies, totaling $100 million per year for three years. This credit will fund the pre-development costs of new technologies such as: electric vehicle manufacturing and infrastructure; geothermal energy, lithium mining and battery manufacturing; long-term storage; and more.
As part of today’s announcement, President Biden highlighted investments in innovative companies operating in this space.
California-based Mountain Pass (MP) Materials has received $35 million from the federal government to separate and process heavy rare earth elements at its Mountain Pass, Calif. plant, establishing a comprehensive nationwide permanent magnet supply chain . MP Materials announced that it will invest an additional $700 million and create more than 350 jobs in the magnet supply chain by 2024. In 2021, MP Materials received a California tax credit of $15 million .
Berkshire Hathaway Energy Renewables (BHE Renewables) also announced that this spring they will open a new demonstration facility in Imperial County to test the commercial viability of their process for sustainably extracting lithium from geothermal brine as part of a a multi-billion dollar investment in sustainable development. lithium production over the next five years. If successful, this puts the company on a path to commercial-scale production of battery-grade lithium hydroxide and lithium carbonate by 2026. BHE Renewables could produce 90,000 metric tons of lithium per year.
California has 485,000 clean energy jobs, more than double that of any other state, and six times as many clean energy jobs as fossil fuel jobs. Electric vehicles continue to be one of the state’s top exports.