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Lithium Valley': Inside California's 'white gold' rush

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By illuminem briefings

· 2 min read

Illuminem summarizes for you the essential news of the day. Read the full piece on Mirage or enjoy below:

🗞️ Driving the news: The Salton Sea in California's Imperial Valley is a key site for lithium mining, crucial for electric vehicle batteries. A new U.S. Department of Energy report highlights its potential to meet growing lithium demand
• However, USC experts raise concerns about the environmental and health impacts of lithium extraction in this region

🔭 The context: Lithium, often called 'white gold', is essential for clean energy technologies. The U.S. is seeking to reduce reliance on foreign lithium sources amidst rising global demand 
• While geothermal brine lithium recovery at the Salton Sea offers a sustainable extraction method, the socio-environmental implications are significant

🌍 Why it matters for the planet: The extraction of lithium at the Salton Sea could bolster American energy independence and the global shift towards clean energy
• However, the environmental degradation and health risks posed to the local, predominantly Latino community, already struggling with poverty and air pollution, highlight a critical trade-off in the clean energy transition

⏭️ What's next: With lithium demand projected to increase 500% by 2050, balancing economic, environmental, and public health interests in lithium mining areas like the Salton Sea is essential
 • Continued research and responsible management practices will be key to mitigating adverse impacts

💬 One quote: "Many children in this area are affected by respiratory symptoms... and the local air quality is a likely contributor to the high rates we see," said Shohreh Farzan, associate professor at the Keck School of Medicine of USC

📈 One stat: The childhood asthma rate around the Salton Sea is 22%, significantly higher than the national average of roughly 8%

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