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California's Next Economic Boom: A Look at the Sudden Rise of a Struggling Region

Imperial County, California, with just 180,000 residents and struggling with poverty, has become a focal point for U.S. politicians due to its substantial lithium reserves, estimated at 3,400 kilotons. Dubbed Lithium Valley, the region aims to tap into the rising demand for the mineral, particularly driven by electric vehicles. Despite the potential economic benefits, challenges, including water consumption and environmental impacts, loom over large-scale lithium mining operations. The community, however, appears mostly supportive, expecting tax revenues to bring relief, with Senate Bill 125 stipulating that at least 30% of the income should fund local projects, potentially transforming the economic landscape of Imperial County.

Photo Credit: Alexander Grey

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