EPA approves Ultium Cells battery components for Delta Township plant

Riley Beggin
The Detroit News

Washington — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has approved Ultium Cells LLC to build an electric vehicle battery component at the request of a bipartisan group of Michigan lawmakers.

The joint venture between General Motors Co. and LG Energy Solution is building a battery plant in Delta Township outside of Lansing, part of GM's $7 billion investment in EV and battery production in Michigan announced in January. 

U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin, D-Lansing, Rep. Tim Walberg, R-Tipton, Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Lansing, and Sen. Gary Peters, D-Bloomfield Township, asked EPA in April to expedite processing applications for the company to build carbon nanotubes as a part of their operations.

Slotkin's office says EPA's approval removes "a key hurdle that could have slowed groundbreaking on the facility."

Ultium is operating a battery plant in Warren, Ohio, and building one in Spring Hill, Tennessee. It's considering building a fourth plant in New Carlisle, Indiana. The project in Delta Township is expected to create 1,700 new jobs in the Lansing area. 

"Getting this new plant up and running will generate thousands of new jobs in the Lansing area — both directly and indirectly — and will support GM’s manufacturing in other parts of Michigan,” Slotkin said. “That means the battery cells being built here in Lansing will support EVs being built by Michigan auto workers all across our state."

In their April letter to the agency, the lawmakers wrote that if Ultium's applications weren't reviewed by May, it would delay the launch of the battery plant. 

Carbon nanotubes efficiently transfer electricity, but EPA requires that it sign off on their production because the process could be harmful to human health and the environment. 

EPA is expected to decide on applications within three months, but the agency was facing a backlog of requests when the lawmakers wrote in April, two months past the deadline.

Ultium spokesperson Brooke Waid said the company is "pleased" EPA approved the application.

"As we continue to move forward with our battery cell manufacturing investment plans," she said, "we are grateful for the overwhelming support received from policymakers across Ohio, Tennessee and Michigan throughout this process."

GM, like other automakers, is in the midst of shifting its portfolio of products and plants to build electric vehicles. The automaker is spending more than $30 billion through 2025 to meet its stated goals of 30 EV product offerings globally by 2025 and 1 million EV sales in that same timeframe. 

rbeggin@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @rbeggin