(Bloomberg) — President Joe Biden fired up mining companies, battery makers and environmentalists last week when he invoked Cold War powers to encourage domestic production of critical battery minerals for electric vehicles.
The president used the Defense Production Act — wielded by Harry Truman to make steel for the Korean War, and by Donald Trump to spur mask production in 2020 — to add lithium, nickel, graphite, cobalt and manganese to the list of items deemed critical for national defense.
The move paves the way for companies aiming to mine, process or recycle these minerals in the U.S. to access a $750 million fund administered by the Defense Department. Mining advocates say three-quarters of a billion dollars is a drop in the bucket when you consider this covers both military and civilian supply chains — everything from airplanes and bomb materials, to rare earth magnets and energy storage.
They’re more excited about the symbolic value of Biden’s gesture — that it could mark a shift in U.S. industrial policy and a demonstration of how far he’s willing to go to compete with China and further his climate agenda.
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