California has long been a place where new ideas and trends start. But one small county is now the scientific community’s focus after huge lithium reserves were discovered there. The rare earth element is in high demand due to the popularity of electric vehicles. It’s also used in some medicines. The discovery of the reserves in Imperial County puts the region in a unique position. The local economy is counting on the new resource to help boost its fortunes.
Known as the Lithium Valley, Imperial County has so much of the resources that it can produce 375 million batteries. That is the equivalent of the entire fleet of all-electric cars currently on the roads. The resource will likely boost the region’s economy, but some concerns exist. The primary industry in the area is agriculture and retail trade. However, there are worries that the mining of lithium could have adverse effects on water availability.
The region depends on the Colorado River for its water supply, which is limited. Farmers have been under pressure to conserve water for years, and some worry that the lithium mines will push out water supplies even further. The county recently passed a law to tax lithium extraction from the Salton Sea. It will be collected monthly in the hundreds of dollars per metric ton of extracted lithium, with 80 percent of the money going directly to the county.
However, some communities that the lithium industry will impact are unhappy with the arrangement. The Quechan Indian Tribe and the Torres Martinez Desert Cahuilla tribes say they were not invited to the table as early as other groups. They are concerned that the companies involved will get all the benefits while they will receive a different amount of money.
Other concerns include the potential for an increase in pollution. California is already working on reducing emissions from medium and heavy-duty vehicles and commercial cargo trucks.
Lithium is a drug that can cause side effects, such as muscle weakness, twitching, drowsiness, ringing in the ears, changes in mood, or trouble breathing. You should immediately call your doctor if you have any of these symptoms.
It would help to tell your doctor or pharmacist about all your medications, including vitamins and herbs. Some of these may affect how much lithium is absorbed by your body. Also, tell them about any other health problems you have, such as heart disease, liver or kidney problems, or a family history of depression or suicide. They can help you find the best dose for you. If you have diabetes, check your blood sugar levels regularly while taking lithium. Also, let your doctor know if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.