The Times podcast: Promise, peril in push for electric cars

Tesla electric car charging
A Tesla being charged in front of Harris Farms Restaurant in Coalinga, off Interstate 5.
(Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)

President Biden wants 40% of new cars to be electric by 2030. As automakers race to meet demand, they’re setting off a mining rush worldwide from rare earth and critical metals. Cobalt, lithium, manganese and nickel here in the United States are hard to come by, but exist in sensitive habitats such as the ocean floor and Indigenous land. Now, environmentalists and activists are questioning whether electric cars are the wisest way to tackle climate change.


In this episode, we take you to the lithium mines of the western U.S. in Nevada, to the geothermal vents of California’s Salton Sea, and to the seafloor of the Pacific Ocean.

Host: Gustavo Arellano

Guests: L.A. Times policy reporter Evan Halper

More reading:

California’s electric car revolution, designed to save the planet, also unleashes a toll on it

Column: I was going to buy an all-electric car but chickened out. Here’s why

Good luck getting a state rebate on your new electric car

About The Times

“The Times” is made by columnist Gustavo Arellano, senior producer Denise Guerra and producers Shannon Lin, Marina Peña and Melissa Kaplan. Our editors are Lauren Raab and Shani O. Hilton. Our engineer is Mario Diaz. Our intern is Ashlea Brown. Our theme song was composed by Andrew Eapen.