President Biden is set to invoke Cold War-era powers to drive domestic EV production, adding EV-critical minerals like lithium, nickel, graphite, cobalt, and manganese to the list of materials covered under the 1950 Defense Production Act.
According to a recent report from Bloomberg, which cites unnamed sources familiar with the matter, President Biden may invoke the 1950 Defense Production Act as early as this week with the aim of boosting domestic EV production. The 1950 Defense Production Act previously served to boost steel production under President Truman, as well as served to boost mask production under President Trump.
The move could give mining companies access to $750 million under the Defense Production Act’s Title III fund, as well as support battery recycling. The funding would go towards current mining operations, productivity and safety measures, and feasibility studies. The move is also considered something of a peace offering for the mining industry as the White House pushes forward with its green energy agenda.
That said, the funding would not include accelerated approval for new mining projects, nor would it help mining companies skirt existing regulations or environmental reviews. It is expected that a number of departments, including Energy and Interior, will help to oversee the new efforts.
As part of the recent infrastructure bill, the Biden administration has already directed some $6 billion towards supporting the U.S. battery supply chain, steering the auto industry away from its reliance on Chinese sources. At present, China is the lead producer of lithium-ion cells.
Prices for EV battery materials, including lithium, cobalt, and nickel, have risen this year following increased demand, supply chain disruptions, and the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. Energy independence advocates have called for a focus on mining and mineral processing, both of which are key components in the EV production process, and both of which are largely controlled by China.