Energizing consent: Lithium mining and community-engaged licensing for a just energy transition in California, USA, and Puno, Peru


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Innovation Fellowships


Environment and Sustainability


The race to secure lithium, a critical resource for the energy transition, is accelerating in the Americas. The spread of the lithium extractive frontier has started a dynamic process where government agencies, corporations, and civil society dispute standards for licensing new lithium mines. However, little is known about the potential environmental, economic, and social transformations lithium mining could generate, especially when it implicates fragile ecosystems and the use of experimental technologies. This community-engaged research focuses on supporting two community coalitions as they dispute with Governments the potential outcomes of lithium extraction in Puno, Peru, and Imperial County, California. The project collaborates with Latinx and indigenous organizations to unravel how they resist “speculative extractivism,” a phenomenon affecting the institutions behind the mineral foundations of the energy transition. The project uses a qualitative comparative case study to analyze the licensing processes during the pre-extraction phase of both lithium projects.