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SACRAMENTO — Governor Gavin Newsom signed Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia’s (D-Coachella) AB 1657 – Blue Ribbon Commission on Lithium Extraction in California. The measure instructs the California Energy Commission (CEC) to establish a blue ribbon commission to explore and expand the State’s emerging lithium recovery industry, according to the press release.

“After years of concerted advocacy, we have successfully secured California’s commitment to explore the abundant lithium extraction, renewable power potential of the Salton Sea geothermal resource area. In addition to helping meet our clean energy goals, this commission could serve as a valuable lever of our State’s economic recovery strategy,” said Garcia. “The passage of AB 1657 is a major victory for our region, especially for our most impoverished communities who would benefit from the jobs a competitive lithium industry will bring to our area.”

A letter from the Imperial County Board of Supervisors stated, “Geothermal energy can help California meet its environmental and energy goals by producing lithium from geothermal brines. Selling lithium may also lower the cost of geothermal power, making it more competitive with other renewable sources of energy such as wind and solar. An in-state supply of lithium has the capability of creating new infrastructure development to Imperial Country, an area that chronically suffers from the highest unemployment rate and pollution levels in the State.”

As the global demand for lithium continues to rise, the Blue Ribbon Commission on Lithium Extraction in California would review, investigate, and analyze opportunities and benefits for lithium extraction and use in California. AB 1657 also requires the commission to submit a report to the Legislature documenting its findings and recommendations on or before October 1, 2022.

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