Gaston County chemical facility hosts Treasury secretary, Gov. Cooper to promote clean energy

Gaston County chemical facility hosts Treasury secretary, Gov. Cooper to promote clean energy

BESSEMER CITY, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — U.S. Secretary of Treasury Janet Yellen visited Gaston County Thursday to discuss ongoing investments in clean energy, specifically in North Carolina.

“The Biden administration is scaling up our domestic manufacturing capacity,” Yellen said.

Yellen, along with Gov. Roy Cooper, was given a tour of the Livent chemical manufacturing facility in Bessemer City.

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Since the 1950s, the company has produced lithium hydroxide that ends up in products like cellphones, computers, and electric vehicle batteries.

“People don’t realize how much lithium is around you on a daily basis,” Livent CFO Gilberto Antoniazzi said.

Livent is one of several manufacturers across the U.S. to benefit from the Biden administration’s Inflation Reduction Act green-energy tax credits.

The credits are designed to make it cheaper for companies like Livent to invest in new technology and expand their workforce.

“The evolution of the electric vehicle industry requires a lot of investment in the United States – from lithium production to battery production and vehicle production,” Antoniazzi said. “Livent today is the only company that actually produces commercial volume in the U.S., so naturally, we will benefit from that.”

It’s been a long time coming for North Carolina, Cooper says.

“We have been waiting, waiting, waiting for this kind of infrastructure investment in every state in the country,” Cooper said. “We finally have it. So, now we are beginning that process of really putting those investments to work.”

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While inflation concerns continue to be on the forefront for many, Yellen was asked how the administration plans to get more Americans on board with going green, considering the goal is to have a net zero emissions economy by 2050.

“I really believe that the long-run investment strategy that we both talked about today, with the improvements we are seeing with really good jobs being created, will make a real difference in people’s level of optimism about where the U.S. economy is going,” Yellen said.

While Livent does not mine lithium, Cooper and Yellen were asked if they are supportive of plans to resume lithium mining in the area. Both said they do support mining if it is done responsibly.

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