Former U.S. military leaders have expressed serious concerns about President Joe Biden's ambitious plan for electric vehicles (EVs).
The letter from 17 retired military officers, including Major General James Marks, to President Biden warns that shifting to electric vehicles could threaten U.S. national security by increasing reliance on foreign, especially Chinese, resources.
Sent on Thursday, January 19th, 2023, the letter draws attention to the United States' increasing dependence on China for critical minerals and components required for EV production. This dependence is perceived as a significant vulnerability, potentially exposing the U.S. to economic leverage akin to situations seen in current global political dynamics.
China's control over a significant portion of the production of lithium-ion battery components is a central concern. The country oversees 70% of cathode production and 85% of anode production, which are critical elements in these batteries. China's strategic investments in African mines to secure mineral production further consolidate its dominance in this sector.
The letter parallels Russia's current strategy of leveraging Ukrainian grain exports, suggesting that the U.S. could face similar economic manipulations. The officials express their worry about the U.S. making itself vulnerable to such tactics, especially at a time when global political dynamics are increasingly complex.
The Biden administration's plan, as formulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), sets ambitious goals for the EV sector. By 2032, it envisions up to 67% of new sedans and light trucks, along with 50% of new buses and garbage trucks, transitioning to electric power. This rapid change, however, is perceived by the officials as premature, given the current state of the nation's infrastructure and its readiness to support a widespread shift to electric vehicles.
Concerns extend beyond just the production of EVs. The retired officials argue that the necessary transformation of the U.S. transportation sector may not align with the infrastructure's capacity to support this shift. This misalignment could lead to logistical and operational challenges, potentially affecting the economy and national security.
The military officers wrote:
Even more concerning is the fact that this reliance hinges upon China’s goodwill to export those minerals and manufactured goods to the U.S. This will undoubtedly open the U.S. up to economic manipulations by China, identical to what Russia is doing with Ukrainian grain exports, and a major threat to our national security. We do not believe now is the time for us to make ourselves vulnerable to such easy political pressures.
The retired officials are not necessarily opposed to the transition to electric vehicles but emphasize the need for a more balanced approach. They suggest that the U.S. must consider the broader geopolitical implications of its reliance on foreign powers for critical components.
Their argument underscores the importance of maintaining a level of self-sufficiency and avoiding situations that could compromise national security.
While the letter acknowledges the environmental benefits and the inevitability of a shift to greener technologies, it urges the administration to proceed cautiously. The retired military leaders advocate for a strategy that balances environmental objectives with the nation's security and economic stability.
This letter from retired U.S. military officials to President Biden highlights significant concerns regarding the national security implications of the U.S.'s increasing dependence on foreign resources for electric vehicle components.
The retired officials draw attention to China's control over key elements of EV production and the potential risks of economic manipulation. They urge a more cautious approach to the transition, balancing environmental goals with national security and economic stability.
This debate underscores the complexities of global interdependencies and the challenges of transitioning to a more sustainable future.