SUPPORTING LITHIUM: Gov. Sarah Sanders held a press conference with ExxonMobil representatives in November.

Gov. Sarah Sanders signed a letter to President Joe Biden this week assailing a proposed regulation that would require the auto industry to greatly increase its production of battery-powered electric vehicles by 2032. 

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The letter, signed by 16 Republican governors, ripped an Environmental Protection Agency rule that the federal agency estimates would result in about two-thirds of newly produced light-duty vehicles being battery-powered electric within eight years. Light duty vehicles include passenger cars, SUVs, vans and most trucks sold to consumers. (The rule would not affect vehicles currently on the road.)

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The letter called battery technology “promising” but said the U.S. currently lacks the necessary infrastructure and that the vehicles cost too much. The Biden administration is also addressing those concerns

The letter comes just over two months after Sanders held a press conference with representatives of energy giant ExxonMobil, which plans to extract lithium in south Arkansas.  Lithium is a key component in the batteries, including for electric vehicles. The company has plans to build one of the world’s largest lithium processing facilities near Magnolia.

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Sanders said at the press conference that she supports an “all-of-the-above energy strategy” that would create good jobs and that she would “cut taxes and slash red tape to make that happen.” Exxon said at the time that it hopes to produce enough lithium for more than 1 million electric vehicles a year. 

The Republican governors’ letter does seem to nod towards the growing interest in lithium exploration in the U.S. “Bolstering the domestic critical minerals industry is an essential step to realizing any long-term, responsible electric vehicle battery production,” it says.

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Ten Republican governors did not sign the letter, including Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves. Last week, Reeves signed a bill to approve $350 million in economic incentives to an unnamed “U.S.-based” company that would build batteries for electric vehicles in northern Mississippi. Reeves said the project could create 2,000 jobs with an average annual pay of $66,000 and would cost $1.9 billion to build.