Electric vehicles are becoming increasingly more popular in the United States at a time when lawmakers acknowledge the country should make better investments in battery technology and its supply chain.
On Thursday, Rep. Bill Foster (D-Illinois) led a field hearing in suburban Woodridge to discuss the expected surge in demand for electric vehicle batteries over the next decade, while considering the implications for the metals required in EV battery manufacturing.
“The lithium extraction is owned by China because they were wise enough to invest in this for the last decade and we were not, and so we have to be careful and think strategically and not get caught like that again as we move to newer and newer generations of batteries for all applications,” Foster said.
Foster added that it is important to study not only if the minerals or the batteries exist in the US, but also if ways can be found to extract the metals without polluting and wrecking the environment.
Energy experts also took part in the hearing and explained how more investment is needed to meet the challenge.
“We need to build the talent that allows the US to transition successfully,” said Dr. Chibueze Amanchukwu of the University of Chicago.
According to Rep. Sean Casten (D-Illinois), Illinois is in a prime position to lead the development of electric vehicle batteries.
“We do have supply bottlenecks, but man, what an opportunity when demand is outstripping supply,” Casten said. “The entrepreneurs love that and it’s great to see the entrepreneurs choosing to locate in Illinois.”