Jul 17, 2023

Can California Keep the Lights on this Summer While Demanding More Electric Cars?

Global demand for critical minerals lithium and cobalt is expected to spike between 400 and 600 percent in the coming years

By Adina Flores, June 7, 2023 2:45 am

As we enter the warm summer season in California, people across the state recall both fond and negative memories of recent years. Natural disasters have recurrently reared their ugly head as witnessed during the disaterly wildfires, rotating power shut offs and unforgiving drought. While Governor Newsom has declared the necessity of responding to climate change, the general public may find concerns regarding proper fair trade agreements, safe workplaces and long term outcomes in reference to the regulations he has set in place. Although the favoritism for electric vehicles has grown exponentially within the state, will an electric grid be feasible to power all assets and services across California?

The Office of Governor Newsom issued an announcement August 31, 2022:

"Governor Gavin Newsom has proclaimed a State of Emergency to temporarily increase energy production and reduce demand. The California Independent System Operator has called a Flex Alert for today, August 31, asking Californians to reduce their electricity consumption between 4 p.m. and 9 p.m. to save power and reduce the risk of outages". "This is just the latest reminder of how real the climate crisis is, and how it is impacting the everyday lives of Californians," said Governor Newsom. "While we are taking steps to get us through the immediate crisis, this reinforces the need for urgent action to end our dependence on fossil fuels that are destroying our climate and making these heat waves hotter and more common."

While the ultimate solution proposed may elude tremendous benefit, all proponents leading to the outcome must be equally scrutinized. For example, when referring to the cosmetics industry, consumers may be pleased with the overall visual appeal of a product. However, they may be similarly concerned with the ingredients, testing practices, sustainable labor and manufacturing location. This same principle may be applied when referring to vehicles, their impact on the environment, mining of materials and working conditions of foreign labor forces across the globe.

As cited by Edmunds, Tesla was the #1 electric car company of 2023. "Tesla Motors was responsible for breaking the EV market open for widespread adoption, and it's currently the most popular electric car maker by a healthy margin." After a successful Q4 2022, Tesla issued a press release stating: "January 2, 2023 – In the fourth quarter, we produced over 439,000 vehicles and delivered over 405,000 vehicles. In 2022, vehicle deliveries grew 40% YoY to 1.31 million while production grew 47% YoY to 1.37 million."

While the press release references supply chain issues during COVID-19, it is unclear to specific examples.

Tesla vehicles are largely powered by batteries which operate using cobalt as a key ingredient. According to Financial Times, "Glencore is the world's largest listed trading house and biggest producer of cobalt through its mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Australia and Canada." Just last year, Tesla and Glencore were holding discussions for the electric vehicle manufacturer to hold stake in the natural resource entity. "However, the discussions ended with no deal reached. Tesla had concerns over whether Glencore's extensive coal mining business was compatible with the carmaker's environmental goals, and was reluctant to take a minority equity stake. The rise of electric vehicles has prompted concern among carmakers and battery makers about securing supplies of raw materials such as cobalt, lithium and nickel that are needed to manufacture batteries."

The Council on Foreign Relations expresses grave concerns surrounding cobalt mining practices. This rare element is not only used to power electric vehicles, but computers and cell phones as well. Per the Council, "More than 70 percent of the world's cobalt is produced in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), and 15 to 30 percent of the Congolese cobalt is produced by artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM). For years, human rights groups have documented severe human rights issues in mining operations. These human rights risks are particularly high in artisanal mines in the DRC, a country weakened by violent ethnic conflict, Ebola, and high levels of corruption. Child labor, fatal accidents, and violent clashes between artisanal miners and security personnel of large mining firms are recurrent."

It is evident per the 2020 Form 990 recorded for the Siebel Family Charitable Foundation that financial interests were held in Glencore PLC. The Foundation represents Jennifer Siebel Newsom, Governor Newsom's wife, and her immediate family members. Because the investment was sold in early 2020, did the Siebel Family possibly have pre-determined knowledge in supply chain issues resulting from COVID-19 or other unforeseeable circumstances for the average taxpayer?

If "Black Lives Matter " to Governor Newsom, why is he not considering factors representing the global maltreatment of African people? Because our nation has been encouraged to spend billions to aid the people of Ukraine, why does this focus lack in other countries? Is President Biden concerned for humanity or the profits of those in power internationally? According to NBC Bay Area, in 2022, "Gov. Gavin Newsom joined President Joe Biden as well as executives from the mineral mining and processing industry to announce both public and private investments in the mining of minerals like lithium and cobalt."

"Federal officials say the global demand for these so-called critical minerals is expected to spike between 400 and 600 percent in the coming years, because they are essential for clean energy sources like wind turbines, solar panels and the batteries used in electric vehicles. The federal government awarded roughly $35 million to California mining company MP Materials, which will invest an additional $700 million into creating a domestic supply chain for permanent magnets, which are used in electric vehicle motors, electronics and wind turbines."

With nearly all of our critical minerals imported from other countries, a domestic supply chain will be a ponderous task. As referenced in the Daily Mall, workers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo earn around $2 per day while working under inhumane conditions. Unless materials are sourced by machinery in the future, it is questionable as to how the United States will fund legal, American wages. As undocumented individuals continue to cross the border, we may question why Democratic leaders have not developed a solution to cease illegal crossing. Perhaps, Latinos account for a voting block to the political party which allows the party to build its empire and maintain control? Perhaps, Latinos are an easily accessible solution for those in power who wish to replicate the inhumaneness and despicable compensation which mirrors third world countries, to operate and service their own sources of income? If the Democratic Party has clearly shown disregard for one minority group, why would this concept be inapplicable in other areas?

To create change, we must start local, and work our way to the White House. We must acknowledge racism, discrimination and lies when they surface. Without acknowledgement, there is no accountability and therefore history repeats itself. By questioning everything, we lead ourselves to truth in government. Lies do not wish to be questioned, so I encourage you to seek answers to anything which brings you doubt. While virtue signaling is everywhere, it does not make it right.

It's not so much the power going out it's not knowing when, where or for how long! Can make it difficult to impossible to run a business or even work from home. If / when the power outages start to really increase it will push many more people out of the state. I have a friend that owns a restaurant and every time the power goes out they have to make big decisions on whether to take all of their food out and put into coolers, rent generators, send staff home or call in more staff, close, stay open, etc. It's not acceptable for the amount our "leaders" are paid and the amount of money we pay in taxes. There are solutions out there but California leaders not only ignore them but actively work to make things worse!

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