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Electric car revolution puts Native communities at risk

New research from Associate Professor of Law Lisa Benjamin explores the positive environmental justice impacts of electric vehicles while urging updates to land-use and mining regulations to protect Native communities



Newswise — Conditions are ripe for an accelerated transition to electric vehicle (EV) use in the United States. The Biden-Harris administration has set a target that 50 percent of newly purchased cars in 2030 be electric. In addition, the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 provides significant tax incentives for purchasing electric vehicles and for companies that produce them.

And that is good news for environmental justice (EJ), says Lisa Benjamin, author of a paper called “EVs as EJ?” forthcoming in Harvard Environment Law Review. Benjamin, associate professor of law at Lewis & Clark Law School, details all of the positive impacts of EVs on environmental justice pursuits. But she also outlines the potential harm that could be done to Native communities without updated mining regulations and greater inclusion in land-use decision-making. 

The reason? The increase in electric vehicle production is being accompanied by an increase in domestic mining for the minerals included in EV batteries. Many of these minerals, such as lithium and cobalt, are located in or near tribal lands, including sacred and culturally important sites.

EVs and Environmental Justice 

Widespread adoption of EVs is critical to reducing carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions, a key driver of climate change. The transportation sector is the largest source of U.S. carbon emissions. According to the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a 50 percent reduction in carbon must be achieved by 2050—and as much as a 91 percent decrease by 2100—to stay within the globally accepted goal of limiting the planet’s warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. The rapid adoption of electric vehicles is poised to play a major role in this reduction.

As Benjamin explains, a reduction in gas-powered cars will be especially beneficial to communities of color and/or low-income communities who have been disproportionately harmed by environmental burdens.

“Because of discriminatory policies, highways were built near and through Black and brown communities, making these communities much more vulnerable to chronic illnesses like heart disease and diabetes through exposure to air pollution,” says Benjamin, whose work focuses on climate justice and climate risk as well as how these issues intersect with energy law and administrative law.

In addition, says Benjamin, cost barriers and the lack of availability of charging stations and other infrastructure are preventing wider adoption of EVs by lower-income families.

“EVs are not affordable, and they have to be more affordable if we are going to provide economic justice for communities who have been discriminated against,” says Benjamin.

Key Minerals Near Tribal Lands 

Despite all of the ways that greater adoption of electric vehicle use is making a positive difference, there are potential negative impacts. 

According to a White House fact sheet, the clean energy transition is expected to drive up global demand for key minerals essential for EV batteries, such as lithium, graphite, cobalt, and nickel by 400 to 600 percent. 

“Imperial Valley in California has one of the largest deposits of lithium in the world. There are also deposits in Oregon, Nevada, North Dakota, Tennessee, and Arkansas. The vast majority of nickel, copper, and lithium are located within 35 miles of Indian reservations. …” writes Benjamin.

“The deposits happen to be either in or really near tribal lands from reservations,” says Benjamin.  

Stronger Regulations Needed 

In order to prevent further harm to Native communities, Benjamin urges the Bureau of Land Management to adopt stricter requirements prohibiting mining not only at sacred sites on reservations but also in any adjacent areas deemed culturally important. One area of focus is an update to the 1872 General Mining Act which, writes Benjamin, was “passed during a period of exploration and exploitation of the American West.”

“If the regulations are reimplemented, or redrafted, that could lead to more consultation with tribes,” says Benjamin. “This is especially important in areas that may be off-reservation but still of cultural importance to tribal communities to ensure that their interests are fully taken into account when people mine for those materials.”

Benjamin also recommends that the Bureau of Land Management strengthen their process for including Native communities in the agency’s decision-making procedures. 

While Professor Benjamin acknowledges that the transition to greater electric vehicle use is important for achieving climate and environmental justice goals for a number of disadvantaged communities, she says it’s important to ask: “How do we make sure that the transition not only provides benefits for these communities but also does not further disadvantage them?”

Journal Link: Harvard Environment Law Review

Source: Lewis & Clark College

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Alpha Motor Corporation’s Ride-Along Event: Shaping the Future of Electric Vehicles

Alpha Motor Corporation shapes the future of electric vehicles through customer-centric ride-along events. Experience the journey at https://youtu.be/rFkpVdyLqOA.



Alpha Motor Corporation recently celebrated the successful completion of its ride-along event, a pivotal moment in their quest to revolutionize electric vehicles. Guided by valuable feedback from potential customers who experienced the ride, Alpha is dedicated to tailoring electric vehicles to meet consumer needs effectively.

Copyright © 2024 Alpha Motor Corporation. All rights reserved.

This milestone event, captured in all its glory at https://youtu.be/rFkpVdyLqOA, underscores Alpha’s commitment to customer-centric vehicle development. Following the WOLF truck’s impressive performance in the Southern California desert last summer, this ride-along event solidifies Alpha’s dedication to creating vehicles that resonate with the mainstream market.

Alpha’s ride-along event is available for viewing at https://youtu.be/rFkpVdyLqOA.

Amidst varying weather conditions and challenging terrains, the WOLF truck effortlessly navigated a designated course, showcasing its prowess in handling, speed, and efficiency. Impressively, the vehicle utilized only 20% of its battery capacity during the eight-hour event, with a speedy total charge time of just 30 minutes.

Alpha Motor Corporation aims to leverage the insights gleaned from these ride-along events to enhance vehicle development continually. By incorporating feedback from participants and analyzing driving experiences, Alpha ensures that their electric vehicles not only meet but exceed consumer expectations.

Looking ahead, Alpha plans to host more ride-along events to gather valuable feedback, further refining the driving performance of its modular EV platform. This platform, shared by various models like the WOLF+, SUPERWOLF, REX SUV, and JAX Crossover, embodies Alpha’s commitment to delivering high-quality electric vehicles with accessible design, performance, and ownership experience.

As a trailblazing American automobile company based in Irvine, California, Alpha Motor Corporation is devoted to crafting sustainable transportation solutions that benefit both people and the environment. Through cutting-edge technologies and innovative practices, Alpha is reshaping the automotive landscape, one electrifying vehicle at a time.

For more information, visit https://www.alphamotorinc.com or contact pr@alphamotorinc.com.

(Source: Alpha Motor Corporation)

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Nissan’s Potential Move of Rogue Production Spells Trouble for Tennessee Factory

Nissan’s potential move of Rogue production to Japan spells trouble for its Tennessee factory and US operations.



Nissan’s potential decision to relocate the production of the fourth-generation Rogue to Kyushu, Japan, could have significant implications for its Tennessee-based operations. The Japanese automaker has communicated to suppliers its intention to achieve a “significant reduction” in parts pricing when the next-generation crossover enters production in 2026. This move comes as Nissan seeks to cut costs, with reports indicating that the company has asked suppliers to reduce the cost of parts by an average of 20%, with some suppliers being asked for reductions of up to 30%.

The Smyrna, Tennessee-built Rogue holds a crucial position as Nissan’s best-selling model in the American market. With around 6,700 workers, the Smyrna facility heavily relies on the production of the Rogue, as approximately 40% of the factory’s output comprises this model. The potential relocation of Rogue production to Japan could leave the Tennessee plant in a vulnerable position, especially considering the impending cessation of production for the Nissan Leaf, another key model produced at the facility.

Moreover, the move could be influenced by the company’s efforts to reduce costs amidst potential increases in operational expenses, possibly linked to unionization efforts. Industry analysts have expressed surprise at the magnitude of the price reduction being sought and the potential threat of moving an entire vehicle’s production to another country. This decision could have far-reaching consequences, as it may not only impact the Tennessee factory but also affect Nissan’s broader operations in the United States.

As the automaker evaluates revised quotations for the new Rogue, a decision is expected to be made in February. However, industry experts believe that if Nissan proceeds with moving Rogue production to Japan, it could spell financial trouble for Nissan USA, potentially leading to the closure of a plant. The outcome of this decision is crucial not only for Nissan but also for the future landscape of automotive manufacturing in the United States.

Stay tuned for updates as Nissan executives prepare to make their final decision on the fate of the Rogue’s production.


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5 Ways to Protect Your Automotive Investment



(Family Features) Between inventory issues and climbing interest rates, buying a vehicle can be quite an ordeal, making it an investment worth protecting.

Today’s vehicles require less maintenance than ever before. You can go longer between oil changes and many tires are rated for longer travel. However, keeping up with regular maintenance remains part of your vehicle’s upkeep.

Whether you’ve purchased a new vehicle or you’re aiming to keep a car or truck you already own in good working condition, these tips can help you maintain its peak performance and appearance.

Car Wash: At least once a month, make a point of washing your car to remove built up grime. Not only is the dirt unsightly, but the mess can also damage your paint job and even the frame. This is especially true during the winter months when road salt splatters your vehicle’s undercarriage. Once the temperatures climb back above freezing, be sure to wash away the salt.

Covered Parking: When possible, use a garage or other form of covered parking. You’ll protect your paint job from harsh UV rays, and you’ll also limit exposure to bird droppings and other potentially corrosive or damaging elements in the environment, like dust and pollen.

Windshield Wipers: Visibility is one of the most important aspects of safety when you’re driving, and windshield wiper blades play an essential role. Squeaking, streaking and failing to clear precipitation are all signs your blades need to be replaced. Check wipers regularly and plan on replacing them at least every 6-12 months.

Battery: You may not think much about your battery as long as your engine is turning over and your vehicle is running smoothly. However, even a car in good condition can have battery damage. At least once a year, check for signs of battery acid. If you detect the white powdery substance around your battery terminals, disconnect the cables (negative first) and apply a mixture of baking soda and water with a wire brush. Rinse with water and dry before replacing the cables.

Air Filter: The air filter doesn’t just affect the air quality in the cabin of your vehicle. A dirty filter can also cause engine strain because it hinders proper air flow. Over time, you may even notice a decline in gas mileage and acceleration performance. Many factors affect how often you need to replace your filter, but a quick visual inspection should give you a clear idea. Your owner’s manual will help you determine how to access the filter; it’s easier than people often assume.

Find more practical tips for auto care at eLivingtoday.com.

Photo courtesy of Unsplash

Family Features

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