Following the coalition’s success in working with U.S. Congressional allies to secure $6 billion for the Department of Energy (DOE) to scale battery material processing, manufacturing, and recycling in the U.S., the coalition is now focused on supporting the department to ensure the strategic development of a resilient U.S. battery sector. Three key tenets drive BMTC’s advocacy with DOE:
BMTC encourages DOE to prioritize substantial funding for current and manufacture-ready battery technologies and their material and component needs in the near term. This will enable the U.S. to quickly bolster capabilities to meet growing demand for batteries while also enabling the transition of today’s R&D into commercial applications in the near future.
Given how far behind North America is in the battery materials and manufacturing industry, BMTC encourages DOE and the federal interagency to address gaps within the supply chain as well as strategic integration of the upstream, midstream, and downstream battery supply chain sectors. Specifically, this includes considerations for projects integrating extraction with processing, anode and cathode development with cell manufacturing, or recycling with cathode and anode development. In addition, to strategically grow a robust battery industry in the U.S. and North America, regional hubs of battery production will be critical to the industry’s efficiency, resilience, and supply chain security.
To further bolster domestic capabilities, BMTC advocates for incentives and benefits to sustain growth of North American companies as well as minerals, materials, or technologies developed in the U.S. and Canada. This will ensure the full value chain is maintained within the continent.
In addition to focusing on industry development through the battery processing, manufacturing, and recycling grant programs, BMTC also engages in other critical mineral and manufacturing initiatives at the federal level. This includes advocating for the inclusion of synthetic graphite and nickel to the Department of Interior’s (DOI) Critical Minerals List, bolstering supply chain and manufacturing authorities and programs within the Department of Commerce (DOC), and tracking new initiatives derived from the annual reports required by President Biden’s Executive Order on America’s Supply Chains – including interagency coordination on responsible mining and on sustainability standards for critical materials.
To address potential defense and national security vulnerabilities, the U.S. must adopt a robust strategy to build and protect supply chains to meet the Department of Defense’s (DOD) mission-critical needs for minerals and batteries. It is imperative that DOD increase its involvement with the battery industry given the increase in military use of batteries as well as consumer demand for technologies dependent on critical minerals – presenting a vulnerability for the defense industrial base as material supply chains are further strained. BMTC is pursuing policy initiatives to address these concerns and support DOD’s involvement in scaling a domestic, secure critical mineral and battery industry. This includes advocating for the inclusion of battery materials in defense legislation, defining DOD sourcing procedures to prioritize U.S. and Canadian capabilities prior to turning to other allies, and restricting the use of materials sourced from countries of concern in military procurement.
In addition to legislative amendments, BMTC also identified a significant opportunity for the federal government to bolster critical supply chain capabilities for the battery sector through the Office of Industrial Policy within DOD. In particular, BMTC advocated for the expansion of the Defense Production Act (DPA) Title III Program to include battery materials as well as the allocation of new funds to ensure the program can significantly impact industry growth.
Investments in domestic capabilities must be complemented by strategic trade and diplomatic policy to support the vitality of U.S. battery materials in global markets. The U.S. has an opportunity to capitalize on North American mineral resources and manufacturing expertise to build a secure battery industry that promotes job creation, safety, sustainability standards, and provides an alternative to sources that rely on forced labor, poor environmental records, and other malpractices. Doing so successfully, however, will require coordination with allies such as Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom, European Union countries, Japan, and South Korea, as those countries also focus on growing their battery industries to reduce dependence on China.
Coordination with Canada, which has strategic resource deposits, is of the utmost importance to securing North American battery supply chains. With shared borders and infrastructure as well as existing geographical, environmental, and economic benefits, the U.S. and Canada are poised to complement one another’s mineral resources as well as critical technologies, energy, and defense industries. As a North American organization, BMTC is an outspoken advocate of the benefits of U.S.-Canadian coordination on battery supply chains and encourages both countries to expand efforts under the Joint Action Plan on Critical Minerals.
The coalition is also actively engaging the U.S. government to focus on trade policy impacting the industry. While BMTC applauds the formation of Industry Trade Advisory Committee (ITAC) 5 on Critical Minerals and Nonferrous Metals, as well as the Department of State’s (DOS) newly launched Clean Energy Resources Advisory Council (CERAC), more is still needed. China’s stranglehold on the battery materials market is not only due to strategic investments but is also a result of market manipulation and unfair trade practices. Leveraging the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), Section 301 tariffs on Chinese battery materials, and other trade policy mechanisms will become increasingly necessary as the North American battery industry grows.