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Salton Sea lithium project promises to bring jobs to Imperial County

General Motors announces plans to put the Salton Sea, and its neighbors, to work - 13 On Your Side's Vince Ybarra reports

IMPERIAL, Calif. (KECY, KYMA) - Lithium is what is used to make batteries for electric cars. According to Assembly member Eduardo Garcia, the Salton Sea is an area where this precious metal can be extracted from.

California Governor Gavin Newsom gave direct orders that by 2035 all cars sold in California need to produce zero emissions. 

According to Assembly member Eduardo Garcia, the Salton Sea is one of the world’s largest sources for Lithium. 

Garcia says the Salton Sea and Imperial Valley could take center stage when it comes to the domestic supply of lithium. 

Rod Colwell, Chief Executive Officer and Director of Controlled Thermal Resources (CTR), says that this new partnership will create new job opportunities. 

“Our project alone will employ, including construction jobs, just under 2,000 job fully developed, that is just us,”  said Colwell.

The hope is to recover lithium in a mindful way. Colwell said the surrounding communities are CTR's first priority. 

According to General Motors, the project of extracting lithium is expected to start in some time in 2024. 

This is something Luis Olmedo, an executive at Commite Civico, is eager to see happen.

“This really could be a good opportunity for the Imperial Valley, for the country. We certainly want to be leaders in California when it comes to climate policy,” said Olmedo. 

And he encourages the residents in the Imperial Valley to get involved.

“The community has to be involved. We can’t just let a few people make decisions for this valley. Because it’s not going to turn out the way the community expects,” said Olmedo. 

Olmedo said he hopes this project will  benefit the Imperial Valley residents with things like better resource centers, better schooling and more. 

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Vince Ybarra

Vince Ybarra joined KYMA in June 2021 and is a CBS 13 anchor.

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Brandon Mejia

Brandon Mejia joins the news team as the evening anchor for KSWT. You can catch him weeknight at 6 and 10 p.m.


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