Panamint Mountains in Panamint Valley, Death Valley, where lithium mining is proposed. Courtesy Al Seib / Los Angeles Times.

As our world transitions from fossil fuels because of the carbon emissions we need to be sure we don’t replace one problematic fuel type with another one that destroys our planet.

One of the strongest arguments for moving away from petroleum, coal and nuclear energy is the environmental damage these energy sources do to the planet. They foul our air, water and are raising the temperature of the planet.

Some materials used in renewable energy products come with significant environmental costs using the current models of extraction. Mining operations are able to extract resources, leave messes and don’t pay any royalties. If this model were shifted to one where mining companies pay royalties, those funds could be used to help mitigate their environmental impact.

Even the petroleum industry pays royalties.

Congress is currently examining this issue as the transition to renewables is accelerating and so are mining efforts.

We need to protect our environment so we don’t simply shift from one problematic energy resource to another.