Governor Newsom Visits Lithium Valley to Highlight Momentum on Becoming Global Source for Battery Production

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: Lithium Valley is on track to become one of the world’s largest sources of lithium, the essential material for EV batteries – positioning California to be the global hub for battery production and a leader in securing a clean energy future.

IMPERIAL VALLEY – Governor Gavin Newsom today visited Imperial Valley to see the progress being made on transforming the Salton Sea region into a global hub for battery production, essential to the worldwide transition to zero-emission vehicles. California’s Imperial Valley contains some of the largest lithium deposits in the world, specifically underground near the Salton Sea – a region also known as Lithium Valley.

Experts believe Lithium Valley could provide enough lithium to meet all of America’s future demand and more than one-third of global demand – supercharging the transition to zero-emission vehicles.

During his visit, the Governor toured Controlled Thermal Resources in Imperial for a demonstration of safe lithium mining and battery production. He also met with local elected officials, community groups and other stakeholders to discuss ways the state is putting the needs of local Imperial Valley communities first as the region undergoes significant economic transformation. Earlier in the day, the Governor visited a project that is being implemented as part of the Salton Sea Management Program to enhance wetland habitat and improve public health and environmental conditions at the Salton Sea.

What Governor Newsom said: “We’re building a hub for global innovation while ensuring this transformation benefits communities right here in Imperial Valley. California is poised to become the world’s largest source of batteries, and it couldn’t come at a more crucial moment in our efforts to move away from fossil fuels. The future happens here first – and Lithium Valley is fast-tracking the world’s clean energy future.”

What they’re saying: 

  • Congressman Raul Ruiz (CA-25): “With federal, State, Tribal, County, City, and CBO collaboration along with strong public-private partnerships, we will make Lithium Valley the nation’s manufacturing center of clean energy batteries. Together, we’re reaching toward a clean energy future for the Salton Sea and our communities—a future with good-paying union jobs filled by local workers and a future with lower energy costs for families here in Southern California and all across the nation. Every day, we are getting closer and closer to making this vision a reality, and it’s all starting right here in Lithium Valley.”
  • Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia (D-Coachella), Chair of the Assembly Select Committee on California’s Lithium Economy: “Lithium Valley has the potential to accelerate our nation’s clean energy future while uplifting one of our most economically underserved regions on the front lines of the climate crisis. We are grateful for Governor Newsom’s leadership and partnership with us as California takes this opportunity to make historic, transformative investments by empowering locals to drive forward a community-focused lithium vision.”
  • Senator Steve Padilla (D-San Diego): “Imperial’s Lithium Valley will play a crucial part in America’s clean energy future. We need to ensure the investments in that energy future benefit the surrounding communities that have been left economically stranded for too long.”
  • Silvia Paz, Chair, Lithium Valley Commission: “There is boundless potential within the Salton Sea region, both in terms of its role as the leading source of battery components for worldwide clean energy production and the bright future ahead for the local communities who will benefit from new development and high-paying jobs. The Lithium Valley is ready to be a key player as California leads a worldwide transformation towards greener technology.”
  • Luis Olmedo, Executive Director, Comite Civico del Valle, Inc.: “Comite Civico del Valle commends Governor Newsom for his steadfast commitment to equity in the development of Imperial Valley’s lithium resources. CCV looks forward to working with Governor Newsom in the support of union jobs throughout our local lithium economy, environmental justice-led protections that put people and our ecosystem first, and to oppose efforts that seek to reduce lithium tax investment to Salton Sea restoration or community benefits to fenceline communities in close proximity to lithium extraction practices.”
  • Thomas Tortez, Jr., Chairman, Torres Martinez Desert Cahuilla: “The Torres Martinez Desert Cahuilla appreciate the Governor’s commitment to strengthen Tribal communities with Tribal inclusion, meaningful person-to-person dialogue with a timeline, considering Tribal communities as active participants in clean energy transitions and in collective decision-making with a determination to succeed. Lithium extraction and geothermal power are a step in the right direction, but let’s ensure Tribal cultural protections and fair distribution of clean energy benefits, avoiding disproportionate negative impacts on Tribal communities.”
  • Imperial County Supervisor Ryan E. Kelley: “Imperial County supports the Governor’s vision of securing a domestic supply of critical materials and Lithium Valley can produce these valuable resources in an environmentally conscious way. Each proposed lithium extraction plant would be a closed loop system, without the creation of open pits or solar evaporation ponds. We are protecting our future by developing a strategic mineral resource and promoting an environmentally friendly business practice.”
  • Adela de la Torre, President of San Diego State University: “Our plans for more educational opportunities, more degree access, and more economic development align perfectly with the local, state, and federal excitement over Lithium Valley. This historic initiative will drive not just the Valley economy, but the energy needs of our nation.”
  • Rod Colwell, CEO, Controlled Thermal Resources: “We are thrilled to welcome Governor Newsom today and grateful for his leadership as Lithium Valley grows from a vision to a reality. What we are achieving here with this immense geothermal power and lithium resource is unprecedented, and our shared vision to develop a sustainable battery materials campus at Hell’s Kitchen will be critical to electrifying the nation and creating thousands of clean, green jobs.”

MORE INFO: Governor Newsom is committed to building out a world-class battery manufacturing ecosystem in tandem with lithium production and processing that would increase economic opportunity and deliver quality jobs and community benefits to the region:

  • Last year, Governor Newsom signed legislation directing $5 million to Imperial County to support Lithium Valley, and created the Lithium Extraction Tax Law. The new law ensures Imperial Valley communities are benefited by lithium extraction and are a significant part of the growing industry.

  • Since 2017, California has awarded more than $27 million to nearly 20 research projects to advance innovations for lithium recovery from geothermal brines, the processing of manufacturing grade lithium, and the efficient use of lithium in batteries, as well as other related research, planning and development efforts.

  • In a crucial milestone toward making California a global leader in the production of lithium, the Blue Ribbon Commission on Lithium Extraction in California (Lithium Valley Commission) submitted its report of findings and recommendations to the state Legislature in December. The report recommends accelerating transmission planning, improving permitting, and securing funding for infrastructure investments and economic development incentives to support industry growth and job training.

  • California is producing lithium in a more sustainable and environmentally safe way than nearly anywhere else in the world, by relying on modern extraction techniques rather than harmful hard rock mining or other traditional tools of extraction.