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Durbin says Illinois can 'lead the pack' in electric vehicle innovation

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U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, a Democrat from Illinois, also praised Argonne’s history of battery technology research, calling the work essential to the development of cleaner energy.

U.S Sen. Dick Durbin recalls meeting with representatives from Rivian when the company was little more than “a theory.”

Today, Rivian is one of several organizations in Illinois helping to position the state on the forefront of technological innovation, Durbin said. He credits Rivian’s decision to take over the shuttered Mitsubishi plant in Normal as a pivotal early step in establishing Illinois as a leader in electric vehicle technology.

Durbin made his comments Friday during a virtual round table with representatives from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and Argonne National Laboratories. The DOE earlier this week announced $209 million in funding for 26 new laboratory projects focusing on electric vehicles and advanced batteries. Argonne also announced a program called Li-Bridge, describing it as a public-private partnership to bridge gaps in the domestic lithium battery supply chain.

Paul Kearns, director of Argonne National Laboratory, said Li-Bridge will focus on the construction of a stronger, more secure lithium battery supply chain in the U.S.

“It will enable a cleaner tomorrow, while encouraging robust job creation, ensuring no community is left behind, and maintaining our national security,” Kearns said.

Durbin praised Argonne’s history of battery technology research, calling the work essential to the development of cleaner energy.

“Scientists and engineers at Argonne have pushed the boundaries of vehicle and battery technology for decades,” Durbin said.

DOE Deputy Secretary David Turk tied EV innovation in Illinois to the objectives outlined in President Joe Biden’s domestic agenda.

“We know that our ability to meet President Biden’s incredibly ambitious climate goals depends on batteries. Batteries are a fundamental technology for us to be successful,” Turk said.

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