“We need battery metals to build electric cars. Luckily, the sea floor has plenty.”

Image credit: iucn.org

THE state of California earned its well-deserved pro-environmentalist reputation over years of steadfast commitment to our future. In September of last year, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an executive order forbidding sales of new internal-combustion cars and passenger trucks by 2035. Then, earlier this year, he announced an effort to stop any new hydraulic fracturing by 2024 and all in-state oil extraction by 2045 — a significant step for America’s seventh-largest oil-producing state.

To maintain this high level of commitment to these environmental goals, California must expand its reliance on renewable power to match the predicted increased demand for electricity for all those additional electric vehicles.

As the Paris-based International Energy Administration reported in May, the production of a typical electric car requires six times the minerals as needed for a conventional car, and a new wind farm requires nine times more mineral resources than a gas-fired power plant.

Many of the sources of the so-called “battery minerals” around the world are insecure, controlled by aggressive Chinese positioning, or subject to unacceptable environmental and workplace impacts.

Unregulated and unconstrained mining operations abroad can tear up rain forests or rely on the indefensible practice of using child labour.

One of the cleanest, most affordable and most secure sources of battery metals, including nickel, cobalt, manganese and copper, is miles under the surface of the eastern Pacific Ocean, quite literally lying on the sea floor ready to be collected.

In the June 100-day review of critical supply chains undertaken by the White House, the administration found that if “there are opportunities for the U.S. to target one part of the battery supply chain” then nickel supplies and processing “would likely be the most critical to provide short- and medium-term supply chain stability.” And nickel exists in abundance on the sea floor.

The maritime technology at play can even safely repurpose some of what we have learned in the oil and gas sector.

Article edited for space; read the full transcript on the San Diego Union-Tribune website – https://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/opinion/commentary/story/2021-07-28/sea-minerals

Ed: There is much anti deep ocean mining opinion from a wide variety of environmentally conscious individuals and organisations who highlight the damage, some say ‘irreparable damage’ that could be done to the marine environment. Clearly, the retired US Naval Commander opines different agenda and isn’t one of them. For more on this topic visit www.iucn.org/resources/issues-briefs/deep-sea-mining

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