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Nelson Falkenburg

Critical Minerals

The production of a typical lithium-ion battery requires five minerals dubbed "critical minerals" by the USGS - lithium, cobalt, manganese, nickel, and graphite. These critical minerals each face potentially significant supply chain bottlenecks and disruptions, such as: inadequate supply, dominance by select countries in production and refining, an oligopoly of producers, and more. Additionally, the extraction of critical minerals includes environmental and socio-political impacts that must be addressed for a sustainable and just EV transition. 


Countries can take several steps to improve the supply chain of critical minerals and reduce environmental and socio-political impacts. Research and development, diversified supply chains with localized production, and a focus on recycling will all improve issues associated with producing critical minerals. Finally, countries may need to overhaul policies and enact new legislation in order to increase production of critical minerals and decrease reliance on potentially vulnerable imports.



Biorefinery, Renewable Chemical, and Biobased Product Manufacturing Assistance Program Evaluation for USDA Rural Development, Energy Programs Washington D.C., USA

Nelson is a graduate student at Syracuse University pursuing a Master of Public Administration degree, with an environmental policy focus, and a concurrent Certificate of Advanced Studies in Conflict and Collaboration. He has worked for non-profits, municipalities, and state government agencies to address pressing conservation challenges through education, advocacy, and policy implementation. Nelson remains hopeful that we will make major strides in climate resilience and mitigation in the next decade to avert the worst impacts of climate change. He is motivated to see that we do so equitably, centering environmental justice, through community collaboration and local capacity-building. He hopes to work for an organization that empowers communities by engaging stakeholders in all aspects of environmental policy making.  



Nelson’s upbringing in the Pacific Northwest showed him the beauty and tenacity of the natural world – he plans for future generations to see it too.  

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