Pennsylvania Fracking Site Could Supply Nearly Half of U.S. Lithium Needs, Sparking Bipartisan Debate


The recent discovery of potentially valuable byproducts from a Pennsylvania fracking site could supply nearly half of the U.S.’s lithium needs, prompting Republican lawmakers to call on their Democrat counterparts to reconsider their anti-gas stance.

Wastewater produced in the fracking process has “substantial extractable lithium,” researchers Justin Mackey, Daniel J. Bain, Greg Lackey, James Gardiner, Djuna Gulliver, and Barbara Kutchko found. 

With the typical electric vehicle (EV) requiring nearly 18 pounds of lithium for its battery, this discovery could demonstrate that natural gas extraction and “greener” energy can co-exist. 

“I fully expect every single Democrat to join Republicans in supporting domestic natural gas development,” Reschenthaler continued, arguing that Democrats have been suppressing the energy industry:

[There are] 100,000 union jobs the industry supports in Pennsylvania alone…Under the Biden administration, Republicans have fought to unleash American energy while Democrats increased our dependence on China and other foreign adversaries with their disastrous rush-to-green agenda.

Mackey, one of the Pitt researchers, told KDKA that, in addition to providing lithium, extracting it from the fracking water would “reduce the cost of remediating and handling this waste.”

While the researchers did not look at the wastewater in neighboring states, such as West Virginia and Ohio, Mackey said the amount of lithium there “could be a lot larger, so there’s an economic boom for the region as well.”

Pennsylvania State Sen. Doug Mastriano (R) also called for “climate extremists” to find common ground with proponents of fossil fuels. 

The great irony is the same climate extremists who oppose harvesting fossil fuels under all circumstances are dependent on lithium for solar panels and for the battery components they need for things like electric cars, which often are powered on electricity generated by natural gas. 

“Fracking may provide the cleanest, most environmentally friendly way to produce natural gas energy and harvest the domestic lithium we need for the green future endorsed by my colleagues on the extreme left,” Mastriano added.

Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) spoke positively about the discovery. 

“This is an opportunity to source a critical mineral right here at home to both support American jobs and manufacturing, as well as reduce our reliance on countries like China,” the Democrat said. “I am interested in learning more about the potential lithium can bring to Pennsylvania’s economy.”

Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) said that, while the lithium discovery is a “significant development,” there is a “moral obligation to wean ourselves off dirty fossil fuels and raise the bar on mining domestically and internationally.”

“Sourcing lithium and other critical minerals from waste could potentially reduce the environmental footprint of our mineral supply chains, but it must be done responsibly,” Grijalva told the outlet. “It’s critical that we align our environmental regulations with legislation that will ensure the safeguarding of local ecosystems and communities from the adverse impacts of irresponsible mining and fossil fuel extraction.”

Olivia Rondeau
Olivia Rondeau
Digital Reporter. Previously, Olivia was a contributor at the Daily Caller, a staff writer at Foundation for Economic Education, and a Pennsylvania Campus Correspondent at Campus Reform. Prior to that, she worked in social media, research, and public relations at Arsenal Media Group. Olivia is a political science major at the East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania.

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