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Biden could use Defense Production Act for EV battery material production boost

(Credit: Doug Mills)

U.S. President Joe Biden could use the Defense Production Act within the coming days to boost the production of materials used in electric vehicle batteries.

The Defense Production Act of 1950 was used in response to the start of the Korean War, approved by the 81st United States Congress. The Act, which has been reauthorized over 50 times, contains three sections. The first authorizes the President to require businesses to accept and prioritize materials that could be deemed necessary for national defense. It prohibits hoarding or price gouging, which could be used to hike profits. Any person who does not follow the orders of the first section could be charged with a felony and fined up to $10,000 and/or face a year in prison.

The second section gives the President the authority to establish regulations, orders, or agencies that would allocate materials.

The third and final section gives the President control of the civilian economy so scarce or critical materials are available for defense needs. Biden invoked the Defense Production Act on his second day in office to increase the production of supplies related to the COVID-19 pandemic, such as protective wear.

A new report this morning from Bloomberg suggests Biden could use the Defense Production Act as soon as this week. The Biden Administration could include materials commonly used in EV batteries, such as lithium, nickel, graphite, cobalt, and manganese, to help companies access funding to mine the materials, a person familiar with the President’s plans said. Funding could be as high as $750 million under the Act’s Title III fund and could also aid in the recycling of battery materials, as companies such as Redwood Materials, have come to light in this project.

Companies would not have free reign to mine in irresponsible ways just because Biden signed the Act into effect. Manufacturers and mining companies responsible for obtaining the materials would still be subject to normal environmental review processes. The Department of Energy and Department of the Interior would oversee the effort, according to the person.

The Biden Administration has already set aside $6 billion of its infrastructure bill to help the United States battery supply chain remove dependency on foreign suppliers, especially China. Bringing more of the EV manufacturing process back to the United States would not only help jobs but would also eliminate the vital need for other countries to supply materials for U.S.-made EVs.

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Biden could use Defense Production Act for EV battery material production boost
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