Mariela Loera is a policy advocate with the Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability.
Will the dream of renewable energy in the “Lithium Valley” around the Salton Sea be a nightmare for surrounding communities?
The area contains huge amounts of lithium, and demand for electric cars — which use lithium-ion batteries — is booming. So we are at a vital moment to meaningfully engage residents and ensure that future decisions and actions not only prevent harm but also benefit local communities.
Early community involvement before the work to extract the lithium begins in earnest will enable preventative action that considers the existing circumstances of surrounding communities and ensures no further harm, which is essential for equitable progress and true climate resilience.
It is necessary for decision-makers and researchers to partner with residents and use existing local knowledge to plan a future that is equitable and conscious of their wellbeing.
Unfortunately, there is a lack of expertise and general knowledge on the potential consequences of this development and technology on neighboring residents and ecosystems, especially on the already receding and polluted Salton Sea.