Lithium is key to green technology. Where will the US source it?

As America moves from fossil fuels to renewable energy, it must increase its supplies of lithium, copper, nickel, rare earths, and cobalt. These minerals are key components in electric cars, solar panels, wind turbines, and other green technologies. Because there are few domestic suppliers of these metals, the United States is forced to rely on a number of countries that are hostile or politically unstable, or that use child labor. But building new mines in the U.S. is controversial and unpopular. 

This conundrum is examined in “The War Below: Lithium, Copper, and the Global Battle To Power Our Lives” by Ernest Scheyder. In clear and nuanced prose, he analyzes the search for these building blocks of renewable energy and the barriers to getting them.

Scheyder, who has covered the energy beat for Reuters, begins by discussing the kinds of new metals that will be needed, why they are important, and where we might find them. Most important, he convincingly demonstrates that by offshoring these minerals, the U.S. places itself and its industries in a vulnerable position. 

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