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Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

The White House is pledging a multi-agency push to spur more U.S. battery manufacturing and sustainable mining — both domestically and abroad — of raw materials used in battery tech.

Why it matters: The administration wants to speed U.S. market growth of electric cars and grid storage, but a global scramble for batteries and materials poses hurdles for companies and governments alike.

  • Production of raw materials like rare earth minerals is heavily concentrated in a few countries, including China. More broadly, automakers are highly reliant on foreign lithium-ion battery imports.
  • The Energy Department, which released a "blueprint" Tuesday morning on domestic battery development, said that the U.S. currently has "less than a 10% global market share for manufacturing capacity across all major battery components and cell fabrication."

How it works: Pillars of the plan, per a White House summary document, include...

  • Plans to use $17 billion through the Energy Department's Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing (ATVM) loan program — which first launched over a decade ago — to support domestic battery manufacturing of battery packs and cells.
    • The document also says the ATVM efforts will "catalyze" projects for refining, processing, and recycling rare earth minerals and other critical materials used in electric cars.
  • An interagency group led by the Interior Department to work with tribal nations, the private sector and others on "sustainable" and "responsible" domestic mining of raw materials.
  • Defense Department financial incentives for producing materials, including "scaling proven research and development (R&D) concepts and emerging technologies."

The intrigue: The administration says the effort is also focused on broadening international sourcing of materials used in batteries and other clean-energy technologies.

  • Demand for materials like lithium, cobalt, nickel and rare earth elements is projected to grow significantly in coming years and decades.
  • The summary document says the U.S. must "diversify supply chains away from adversarial nations and sources with unacceptable environmental and labor standards."

By the numbers: As the New York Times flags, a 2020 report from the research firm BloombergNEF found that 77% of the world's battery cell production capacity is in China.

  • Per International Energy Agency data, China was home to 60% of rare earth element production as of 2019.
  • The Democratic Republic of Congo provides 69% of the world's cobalt, while the vast majority of the world's lithium comes from Australia, Chile and China.

Reality check: The White House plan is hardly a guarantee of a looming domestic surge in extraction of raw materials needed for clean-energy tech, given concerns about environmental damage and other factors.

  • The administration says an interagency team from Interior, EPA and elsewhere will "identify gaps in statutes and regulations that may need to be updated by Congress" to ensure environmental safeguards.

The big picture: The White House plan is part of a broader initiative on industrial supply chains that have faced disruptions and risks, like semiconductors and pharmaceutical ingredients.

Go deeper: The supply crunch that could slow the climate fight

Go deeper

Exclusive: New outlet backed by Bill Gates will tackle climate change

Amy Harder interviews Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm for the launch edition of Cipher. Photo: courtesy of Cipher

An energy coalition launched by Bill Gates is backing a new publication called "Cipher" dedicated to the coverage of the climate crisis, its new editor tells Axios.

Why it matters: The outlet promises to have complete editorial independence from its backer, Breakthrough Energy, a six-year-old climate advocacy network founded by Bill Gates.

Right-wingers making McCarthy sweat for future Speaker post

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy stands with his Republican colleagues outside the House on Nov. 17. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Right-wing elements in the Republican Party are complicating House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy's attempts to become the next speaker of the House should the GOP take back the majority in 2022.

Why it matters: While McCarthy has worked carefully to build trust among the conservatives who tanked his chances at clinching the speakership in 2015, they're still circling ahead of the next Speaker vote in January 2023.

2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Congress sprints to meet crush of deadlines

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Congressional leaders have been pushing off vital action for months — and a lot of it will catch up with them in December, which begins Wednesday.

Driving the news: Funding for the federal government is set to expire at midnight on Friday. There are also consequential deadlines related to the debt limit, President Biden's agenda and annual actions like voting on the National Defense Authorization Act.