seasonal dust storms that sweep into the country from Mongolia and northern China.

“Generally speaking, Koreans until recently believed that mask wearing was a sort of ‘Japanese practice,’ not ours,” he said.

In Hong Kong, where 299 people died during the SARS epidemic of 2002-3, the experience of universal masking against that coronavirus helped create a “cultural familiarity” with a practice that was also common during episodes of severe air pollution, Mr. De Kai said.

“It was a big reminder to people that masks are important not only to protect yourself from the pollution but also to avoid infecting those around you,” he said.

In Taiwan, SARS and recent air pollution were the two main factors that prompted people there to develop the habit of mask wearing, said Yeh Ming-Jui, a professor of public health at National Taiwan University in Taipei.

Professor Yeh said he believed mask wearing was not more widespread in the West because people there had no immediate memories of a severe pandemic — at least until now.

“The experience and health practices of past generations have been gradually forgotten,” he said.

Amy Chang Chien contributed reporting from Taipei.

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Inflation News: Consumer Prices Jump in April as Investors Worry

Consumer prices jumped at the fastest pace in more than a decade in April, surprising economists and intensifying a debate on Wall Street and in Washington over whether inflation might reach levels that would squeeze households and ultimately undermine the recovery.

Investors and politicians are worried that prices will keep climbing — potentially causing the Federal Reserve to lift interest rates sharply. That could slow economic growth and send stock prices plummeting. But some economists and central bank officials said the jump in the Consumer Price Index reflected pandemic-driven trends that would most likely prove temporary.

Stocks slumped more than 2 percent on Wednesday, their biggest decline since late February.

Hanging over the debate is America’s inflationary experience in the 1960s and 1970s, when big government spending, an oil crisis, a slow-moving Fed and the final end of the gold standard converged to send price gains to double-digit heights. The central bank got things under control only by lifting interest rates to punishing levels, at a grave cost to the housing market and ultimately the job market.

Few analysts expect a return to such huge price gains, in part because the Fed has pledged to act to keep inflation under control. But if officials are prodded to withdraw economic support quickly in order to prevent another “Great Inflation,” it could spur a downturn, as sudden Fed changes have done in the past.

showed that job gains slowed sharply in April, vastly disappointing economists’ expectations.

“We have not made substantial further progress toward our labor market objective,” Mr. Clarida said Wednesday, speaking to business economists on a webcast.

Fed last year redefined its 2 percent inflation target to make it clear that it will aim for periods of slightly faster price gains to make up for months of slow ones.

Fed officials have been clear in recent weeks that as inflation pops, they need to focus on both risks: that it might take off, but also that it might sink back down after a 2021 reopening jump.

“The Fed has a fundamentally different framework. I mean, we cannot apply the playbook of the Fed in the previous recovery to what’s happening now,” said Jean Boivin, head of the BlackRock Investment Institute. “I think each time we get a number that surprises in the upside, we get an extrapolation, too much extrapolation, into a Fed tightening coming sooner.”

Matt Phillips, Jim Tankersley and Ella Koeze contributed reporting.

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Chandro Tomar, Who Shot Her Way Through a Glass Ceiling, Dies

NEW DELHI — Chandro Tomar first picked up a gun when she was around 68.

Until then, she had led a quiet life in Johri, a village in the state of Uttar Pradesh, one of the most conservative regions in India. She spent her days on household chores — milking cows, cutting the grass, grinding wheat and mopping the floors of the large home she shared with her extended family.

But a trip to a local shooting range with her granddaughter Shefali, who was 12 at the time, changed everything. She discovered that she had a gift for shooting. A coach at the range encouraged her to practice, and she returned to the range each week with Shefali, under the guise of chaperoning her.

The two took turns firing the air pistol. Mrs. Tomar trained each night after her family had gone to sleep, holding up heavy jugs so she could keep her arm steady. A few months after she first picked up a gun, she competed in a regional championship and won a silver medal. (Shefali won a gold medal at the same tournament.) Her family found out about her achievement only when a local newspaper published an article about her.

“My husband and his brothers were very angry,” Mrs. Tomar recalled in a recent interview. “They said, ‘What will people think? An old lady of your age going out to shoot guns? You should be looking after your grandchildren.’”

“I listened to them quietly,” she said, “but I decided to keep going no matter what.”

Mrs. Tomar, usually wearing a long skirt, blouse and head scarf, continued to compete well into her 80s in shooting contests, often against men with military backgrounds. She eventually won more than 25 medals.

Mrs. Tomar, who was born in 1931, died on April 30 at a hospital in the town of Meerut, near her village, said Sumit Rathi, her granddaughter Shefali’s husband. She had been hospitalized for a gastrointestinal disorder and then suffered a brain hemorrhage, he said.

Along with Shefali, she is survived by two sons, Vinod and Omveer; three daughters, Savita, Kaushal and Dharambiri; nine other grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren. Her husband, Bhawar Singh Tomar, died before her.

Mr. Tomar never saw his wife compete, and he and his brothers eventually began ignoring her new interest. “That was fine with me,” she said.

Mrs. Tomar was proudest of her work as a coach and mentor to hundreds of young women around the country. She persuaded families in Johri to send their young daughters to shooting ranges to learn the sport, often going door to door to talk to reluctant parents.

Today, her area of western Uttar Pradesh has dozens of shooting clubs, and hundreds of children take the sport seriously. For many of them, it’s a ticket to a better life and a job with the Indian Army or security forces. All of her grandchildren have competed at the national level, although only Shefali still does.

Chandro Malik was born into a large farming family, the only daughter among five siblings. She never went to school. She married Mr. Tomar at 15 and spent the next 50 years raising her family.

Her defiance of patriarchal and social norms and her determination to keep trying new things inspired countless people in her village and beyond. She was known fondly in India as “Shooter Dadi” (“Shooter Grandma”). In her later years, she traveled across the country to speak about female empowerment, until the pandemic forced her to stay home.

Her children and grandchildren fulfilled one of her dreams by building an indoor shooting range, for underprivileged children, in a section of their home. It opened last month.

“Dadi was happiest when she was teaching a new generation and firing at targets,” Mr. Rathi said, “and we plan to continue her life’s mission.”

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China will partition Mount Everest’s summit to reduce coronavirus risk.

variant of concern. Scientists still don’t know much about the variant yet, but they are worried that it may be helping to fuel the rise in the nation’s coronavirus infections, which experts say are likely undercounted.

“There is increased transmissibility demonstrated by some preliminary studies” of the variant, said Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, the technical lead of the W.H.O.’s coronavirus response.

Dr. Van Kerkhove also said that a study of a limited number of patients, which had not yet been peer reviewed, suggested that antibodies from vaccines or infections with other variants might not be quite as effective against B.1.617. However, the agency said that vaccines will likely remain potent enough to provide protection against B.1.617.

More details will be released in a report on Tuesday, Dr. Van Kerkhove said.

The variant was first detected in India at the end of 2020 but became more common in the country starting in March. It has since been found in 32 countries including the United States and the United Kingdom. The W.H.O.’s announcement comes as growing numbers of medical experts are adding their voices to a chorus of condemnation of the Indian government’s response and calling for nationwide restrictions to try to limit the horrifying death toll.

Although the official figures are already staggering — more than 350,000 new infections daily this month and nearly 250,000 total deaths — some experts say that the numbers are a vast undercount and estimate that India is on pace to suffer more than one million deaths by August.

Initially, the W.H.O. classified B.1.617 as a “variant of interest,” because it had certain mutations that have been linked to higher transmission and the potential to evade vaccines. At a news conference on Monday, agency officials announced they were elevated it to a higher level.

Other variants of concern include B.1.1.7, which was first identified in the United Kingdom, and P.1., which was originally detected in Brazil.

But experts caution that it’s not yet clear just how much of a factor B.1.617 has played in the catastrophic rise in cases in India. They point to a perfect storm of public health blunders, such as permitting massive political rallies and religious festivals in recent months.

“I am concerned about 617 — I think we have to keep a very close eye on it,” said Kristian Andersen, a virologist at Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California. But he cautioned that relatively few variant samples are being analyzed in India, making it hard to know just how dangerous B.1.617 is. “We really, really need better data out of India,” he said.

Over the weekend, the Indian Medical Association said in a statement it was time for a “complete, well-planned, pre-announced” lockdown to replace the scattershot regional restrictions currently in place across the nation of 1.4 billion.

The association said it was “astonished to see the extreme lethargy and inappropriate actions from the Ministry of Health in combating the agonizing crisis born out of the devastating second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Much of the criticism has been directed at Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government, which allowed hundreds of thousands to gather at a large religious festival and held campaign rallies even as the virus surged.

An editorial published on Saturday in The Lancet, a medical journal, said that Mr. Modi “seemed more intent on removing criticism” on social media than “trying to control the pandemic.”

“India squandered its early successes in controlling Covid-19,” the editorial said.

The medical journal also cited an estimate by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation that projected that India would witness a total of more than a million coronavirus deaths by August — far higher than government figures would suggest.

On May 2, for example, the institute said that total deaths were actually about 642,000, about three times higher than the government’s own number for that date, just over 217,000.

Referring to the possibility that there may actually be a million victims by August, the Lancet editorial said, “If that outcome were to happen, Modi’s government would be responsible for presiding over a self-inflicted national catastrophe.”

On Monday, India recorded more than 365,000 new cases and 3,754 deaths, according to data from the Health Ministry.

Dr. Ashish K. Jha, dean of the School of Public Health at Brown University, wrote in a tweet on Sunday that it was likely that between two to five million people were being infected every day and that India’s “true” coronavirus death toll was “closer to 25,000 deaths” each day.

He based his own calculations, he wrote, on the number of cremations taking place in the country.

Commuters exited the West 4 St. subway station in New York, in February.
Credit…Amr Alfiky/The New York Times

Officials in New York are trying to boost a flagging vaccination campaign by setting up temporary walk-in vaccination sites at eight subway and train stations this week, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said on Monday.

From May 12 to May 16, the walk-in sites will be open at various times at subway stations including the ones at 179th Street in Jamaica, Queens, and at Stillwell Avenue in Coney Island, Brooklyn, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sites at the Long Island Rail Road station in Hempstead and a Metro-North Railroad station in Ossining will be open from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m.

A site will be open at Penn Station in Manhattan from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. and at Grand Central Terminal from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

People vaccinated at the rail and subway locations can get a free seven-day MetroCard or two free one-way tickets for the Long Island Rail Road or Metro-North. Officials will use the Johnson & Johnson vaccine at the stations, Mr. Cuomo said. The program is a pilot and may be extended, he said.

“You are walking into the subway station anyway, you are walking past the vaccination site, it’s a one-shot vaccination, stop, take a few minutes, get the vaccine,” he said.

The pop-up sites at the stations — and the free tickets — are part of a broader, nationwide push to offer creative incentives to get people vaccinated. New Jersey, for example, is offering a “shot and a beer” for residents who get their first vaccine dose in May and visit participating breweries in the state.

In New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Monday a plan to give free tickets to events and attractions like the New York Aquarium, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden or professional soccer games to people who get vaccinated.

Vaccinations so far have helped drive down positivity rates and hospitalizations across New York State, Mr. Cuomo said. He said on Monday that the number of hospitalizations statewide was 2,016, the lowest since Nov. 15. The statewide seven-day average rate of positive test results announced by the state on Sunday — 1.45 percent — was the lowest since Oct. 28.

Still, Mr. Cuomo said the pace of vaccinations was tapering off, both in New York and nationwide, potentially allowing the coronavirus to linger. Younger people and people who question the vaccine’s safety and doubt the trustworthiness of the government in particular were not getting vaccines, he said.

Mr. Cuomo also said on Monday that the State University of New York and the City University of New York planned to require that students returning for in-person instruction in the fall be fully vaccinated. He said the requirement would be contingent on the federal government granting full approval to the Covid-19 vaccines being used now. The three in use are only authorized for emergency use.

Pfizer and the German company BioNTech said on Friday that the companies had applied to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for full approval of their vaccine for use in people 16 and older, but the process could take months. Moderna plans to apply for full approval for its Covid-19 vaccine this month, the company said last week.

Mr. Cuomo said that half the seats at home games for the New York Islanders during the National Hockey League playoffs, which begin this month, will be reserved for people who are vaccinated. They will have to stay three feet apart, he said. The other half will be available to unvaccinated people who must remain six feet apart, he said. Everyone will be required to wear a mask.

In New York City, officials said they were making plans to provide the Pfizer vaccine to children ages 12 to 15, once it is authorized as is expected this week.

“We want to immediately get to work vaccinating young people,” Mr. de Blasio said at a news conference on Monday.

The health commissioner, Dr. Dave Chokshi, said the city would begin administering the vaccine to those adolescents at its existing network of vaccination sites. The city has also been working with pediatricians to prepare them to answer questions about the vaccine and eventually administer it in their offices, and it would distribute information about vaccination at city schools to try and reach a broad audience of eligible teenagers.

Michael Gold contributed reporting.

Health care workers administered coronavirus tests in Colombo, Sri Lanka, on Tuesday.
Credit…Ishara S. Kodikara/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Early in the pandemic, there was hope that the world would one day achieve herd immunity, the point when the coronavirus lacks enough hosts to spread easily. But over a year later, the virus is crushing India with a fearsome second wave and surging in countries from Asia to Latin America.

Experts now say it is changing too quickly, new more contagious variants are spreading too easily and vaccinations are happening too slowly for herd immunity to be within reach anytime soon.

That means if the virus continues to run rampant through much of the world, it is well on its way to becoming endemic, an ever-present threat.

Virus variants are tearing through places where people gather in large numbers with few or no pandemic protocols, like wearing masks and distancing, according to Dr. David Heymann, a professor of infectious disease epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

While the outbreak in India is capturing the most attention, Dr. Heymann said the pervasive reach of the virus means that the likelihood is growing that it will persist in most parts of the world.

As more people contract the virus, developing some level of immunity, and the pace of vaccinations accelerates, future outbreaks won’t be on the scale of those devastating India and Brazil, Dr. Heymann said. Smaller outbreaks that are less deadly but a constant threat should be expected, Dr. Heymann said.

“This is the natural progression of many infections we have in humans, whether it is tuberculosis or H.I.V.,” said Dr. Heymann, a former member of the Epidemiology Intelligence Service at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and a former senior official at the World Health Organization. “They have become endemic and we have learned to live with them and we learn how to do risk assessments and how to protect those we want to protect.”

Vaccines that are highly effective against Covid were developed rapidly, but global distribution has been plodding and unequal. As rich countries hoard vaccine doses, poorer countries face big logistical challenges to distributing the doses they manage to get and vaccine hesitancy is an issue everywhere. And experts warn the world is getting vaccinated too slowly for there to be much hope of ever eliminating the virus.

Only two countries have fully vaccinated more than half of their populations, according to the Our World in Data project at the University of Oxford. They are Israel and the East African nation of the Seychelles, an archipelago with a population of fewer than 100,000. And just a handful of other countries have at least partially vaccinated nearly 50 percent or more, including Britain, tiny Bhutan, and the United States.

Less than 10 percent of India’s vast population is at least partly vaccinated, offering little check to its onslaught of infections.

In Africa, the figure is slightly more than 1 percent.

Still, public health experts say a relatively small number of countries, mostly island nations, have largely kept the virus under control and could continue keeping it at bay after vaccinating enough people.

New Zealand, through stringent lockdowns and border closures, has all but eliminated the virus. Dr. Michael Baker, an epidemiologist at the University of Otago who helped devise the country’s coronavirus response, said New Zealand would likely achieve herd immunity by immunizing its population, but it has a long way to go with only about 4.4 percent of New Zealanders at least partially vaccinated.

“All of the surveys show there is a degree of vaccine hesitancy in New Zealand, but also a lot of people are very enthusiastic,” Dr. Baker said. “So I think we will probably get there in the end.”

While new daily cases have remained at near-world record levels, the number of deaths has dropped from a peak in February, going against the normal pattern of high cases followed eventually by high deaths. If that trendline continues, it could offer a glimmer of hope for a future scenario that scientists are rooting for: Even as the virus spreads and seems to be hurtling toward becoming endemic, it could become a less lethal threat that can be managed with vaccines that are updated periodically to protect against variants.

“It may be endemic, but not in a life-threatening way,” Dr. Michael Merson, a professor of global health at Duke University and New York University, and a former director of the World Health Organization’s Global Program on AIDS, said. “It may be more like what we see with young kids, a common cold like disease.”

Madeleine Ngo contributed reporting.

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England Eases More Coronavirus Restrictions

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Monday that England would move into its next reopening phase May 17, loosening limits on businesses and gatherings, and allowing people to make their own decisions about close contact, like hugging.

The data now support moving to Step 3 in England from next Monday, the 17th of May. This means the Rule of 6 for two households that is applied outdoors will now apply indoors, and the limit for outdoor meetings will increase to 30 from next Monday. You’ll be able to sit inside a pub and inside a restaurant. You’ll be able to go to the cinema and children will be able to use indoor play areas. We’re reopening hostels, hotels, B&Bs; we’ll reopen the doors to our theaters, concert halls and business conference centers. We’ll, unlock the turnstiles of our sports stadia, subject to capacity limits, and from next week, everyone will be able to travel within Britain and stay overnight. We’re updating the guidance on close contact between friends and family, setting out the risks for everyone to make their own choices. This doesn’t mean, we can suddenly throw caution to the winds. In fact, more than a year into this pandemic, we all know that close contact, such as hugging, is a direct way of transmitting this disease. So I urge you to think about the vulnerability of your loved ones, whether they’ve had a vaccine, one or two doses, and whether there has been time for that vaccine to take effect. Remember, outdoors is always safer than indoors, and if you’re meeting indoors, remember to open a window and let in the fresh air.

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British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Monday that England would move into its next reopening phase May 17, loosening limits on businesses and gatherings, and allowing people to make their own decisions about close contact, like hugging.CreditCredit…Dylan Martinez/Reuters

One-armed, two-armed, side-armed: once an unceremonious greeting, hugging became a far from casual move during the deadly coronavirus pandemic — replaced by waves, nods and the fist or elbow bump.

But in England, hugging friends and family will be government-approved starting next Monday as the government loosens more restrictions, part of a gradual reopening of society and the economy that began this spring after months of national restrictions. Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the changes Monday evening.

Mr. Johnson said that England was taking “the single biggest step” on its road out of lockdown, adding that the public should “protect these gains” by being cautious and using common sense. On Monday, England, Scotland and Northern Ireland reported zero coronavirus deaths in a 24-hour period. There were four deaths in Wales.

In this new stage, outdoor gatherings of up to 30 people will be allowed and indoor gatherings will be allowed for up to six people or two households. Indoor dining, movie theaters and museums will also be able to resume operations, among other places. Hostels, hotels and bed and breakfasts will reopen. Mr. Johnson said people would be allowed to make their own decisions about close contact — such as hugs — with family and friends, though he urged social distancing in places like offices, pubs, restaurants and other settings.

After a year where many people abstained from physical contact for fear of infecting themselves or others, news the embrace would be legal was welcomed, though with some mirth. Some joked that they had forgotten entirely how to execute the move. Others took issue with the fact that the government had tried to stop people from hugging at all, or worried that it was too soon to allow such close contact.

“I’m a hugger ,” said the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, to reporters on Monday, adding that many Londoners were looking forward to relaxation of the ban. “I enjoy people’s company and I know people are ready for me to be hugging again. The first person I’m going to hug is my mum.”

And there were hints that hugs, among other types of physical touch, had already made a comeback.

Still, some experts warned that those wanting to hug their friends with wild abandon should save those arms for their favorite friends.

“It would worry me if we were advocating we can hug all of our friends every time we meet them again,” said Catherine Noakes, a professor from the University of Leeds and member of a government advisory body, to the BBC. Hugging should not be “too frequently,” she advised. “Keep it short, try and avoid being face to face, so perhaps turn your face away slightly, and even wearing a mask could help.”

Mr. Johnson seemed to agree, saying, “I urge you to think about the vulnerability of your loved ones.”

That impulse control may be too much for writer and actor Stephen Fry, who joked on Twitter that while he had largely abided by the rules this past year, he may have a hard time showing restraint. “If you see me in the street — run for it,” he wrote.

GLOBAL ROUNDUP

Saying evening prayers around the Kaaba in the holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia, on Sunday.
Credit…Abdulghani Essa/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Saudi Arabia said on Sunday that it would hold the hajj, the annual pilgrimage to Mecca that in normal times draws millions of Muslims to the kingdom, but did not say how many pilgrims would be allowed to come, which countries would be allowed to send them or what coronavirus precautions they would have to take.

The hajj, the ritual all Muslims are supposed to complete at least once, was also held last summer, but under tightly controlled conditions. Only about 1,000 Muslims from Saudi Arabia, including Saudis and foreign nationals living in the kingdom, were able to take part, down from about 2.5 million pilgrims in 2019; the rituals were performed at social distance, with masks, and the pilgrims were not allowed to kiss the Kaaba, the holy shrine at the center of Mecca that pilgrims are supposed to circle as they complete the hajj.

For the first time in living memory — the hajj had not been canceled since Saudi Arabia’s founding in 1932, though it has been restricted at various points in history during plagues, wars and political disputes — the holiest mosque in Islam was nearly empty, with a few carefully spaced circles of pilgrims dressed in white rather than the throngs who normally crowd the Grand Mosque.

The near-cancellation came as a spiritual and emotional blow to Muslims who had been hoping (and saving up) to participate, in many cases for years. Because of the demand, it is normally difficult to secure a hajj visa even in normal times.

It is unclear whether Saudi Arabia, which is balancing the much-needed tourism revenue it stands to gain from the hajj with the public health requirements of the coronavirus pandemic, will again restrict the hajj so tightly.

Fahad Nazer, a spokesman for the Saudi Embassy in Washington, said only that details would “be announced at a later date,” though he noted on Twitter that there would be “preventative & precautionary measures that ensure the health & safety of pilgrims.”

In other news from around the world:

Mujib Mashal, Abby Goodnough, Austin Ramzy and Tariq Panja contributed reporting.

A helicopter over the Khumbu glacier, en route to the Everest base camps this month.
Credit…Prakash Mathema/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

China said on Sunday that it had taken steps to prevent coronavirus cases from entering the country — over the top of the world’s tallest mountain.

Nyima Tsering, head of the Tibet Sports Bureau, told the state-run Xinhua News Agency that control measures would be put in place on Mount Everest, including the installation of a dividing line on the summit to prevent climbers from the Chinese side and the Nepal side from coming into contact.

Last week, a team of Sherpa guides affixed a rope to the summit of Mount Everest from the Nepal side, allowing expeditions to resume for the first time since the pandemic forced a cancellation of attempts last year.

Nepal has this year approved a record 408 permits to climb Everest, even as coronavirus cases have surged in the country and several climbers have been flown from base camp with symptoms of Covid-19.

China, which has approved just 21 permits to climb the mountain from its side this year, has expressed concern about the risk of coronavirus transmission on the mountain. Since the coronavirus first emerged in China in 2019, the country has carried out strict measures to prevent its spread internally and reintroduction from abroad.

The border between Nepal and China crosses the peak of Everest, a small area where a handful of climbers can stand after making a successful ascent. At the summit, 29,031.7 feet above sea level, most climbers already wear masks to supply oxygen and protect themselves from the cold. But China will implement additional steps to reduce the risk of transmission.

In addition to restrictions on the summit, a checkpoint has been installed outside the Chinese base camp. People returning from the Chinese side will have to undergo disinfection, temperature checks and potentially isolation, Xinhua reported.

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Fuel Prices Rise After Oil Pipeline Is Hacked: Live Business Updates

petroleum pipeline in the United States was shut down over the weekend because of a cyberattack. The pipeline’s operator, Colonial Pipeline, hasn’t said when it will reopen, raising concerns about the infrastructure that carries nearly half of the fuel supplies for the East Coast.

By 7:30 a.m. Eastern Standard Time, futures of gasoline for June delivery were up 1.7 percent but still at the highest level since late 2018. The instability is contained to prices that traders pay for gasoline, but may affect prices at the pump in the coming weeks.

“Should the pipeline be brought online at the start of the week, the impact on prices should be limited,” Giovanni Staunovo, an analyst at UBS Global Wealth Management, wrote in a note. “However, a prolonged shutdown (5 days or longer) is likely to send gasoline prices higher, which already trade close to a 7-year high.”

Oil prices also rose. Futures on West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. crude benchmark, were up 0.6 percent to $65.29 a barrel, after climbing as much as 1.3 percent.

The increase in the price of gasoline and oil has added to what was already a boom in commodity prices. As economies from the United States to China have shown signs of strength, demand for raw materials to power industrial growth has risen. On Monday, iron ore futures rose as much as 10 percent and copper prices extended their record high.

A Bloomberg commodities index, which tracks the prices of 23 commodities from gold and oil to wheat and sugar, was at its highest level since mid-2015. Freeport-McMoRan, an American mining company, and United States Steel both rose more than 3 percent in premarket trading.

Colonial Pipeline fuel tanks in Maryland. The company operates the largest petroleum pipeline between Texas and New York.
Credit…Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA, via Shutterstock

The operator of the largest petroleum pipeline between Texas and New York, shut down after a ransomware attack, declined on Sunday to say when it would reopen.

While the shutdown has so far had little impact on supplies of gasoline, diesel or jet fuel, some energy analysts warned that a prolonged suspension could raise prices at the pump along the East Coast and leave some smaller airports scrambling for jet fuel, Clifford Krauss reports for The New York Times.

Colonial Pipeline, the pipeline operator, said on Sunday afternoon that it was developing “a system restart plan” and would restore service to some small lines between terminals and delivery points but “will bring our full system back online only when we believe it is safe to do so.”

The company, which shut down the pipeline on Friday, has acknowledged that it was the victim of a ransomware attack by a criminal group, meaning that the hacker may hold the company’s data hostage until it pays a ransom. Colonial Pipeline, which is privately held, would not say whether it had paid a ransom. By failing to state a timeline for reopening on Sunday, the company renewed questions about whether the operations of the pipeline could still be in jeopardy.

The shutdown of the 5,500-mile pipeline was a troubling sign that the nation’s energy infrastructure is vulnerable to cyberattacks from criminal groups or nations.

Energy experts predicted that traders would view the company’s announcement on Sunday as a sign that the pipeline would remain shut at least for a few days.

Experts said several airports that depend on the pipeline for jet fuel, including Nashville, Tenn.; Baltimore-Washington; and Charlotte and Raleigh-Durham, N.C., could have a hard time later in the week. Airports generally store enough jet fuel for three to five days of operations.

White House officials held emergency meetings on the pipeline attack over the weekend. The White House press secretary, Jen Psaki, said in a tweet that they are looking for ways to “mitigate potential disruptions to supply.”

Is Elon Musk really taking Dogecoin to the moon? That’s what the Tesla chief executive has been pledging to do with the jokey cryptocurrency, mostly in terms of cheering on its skyrocketing price. But on Sunday, he tweeted that one of his other companies, SpaceX, is launching a satellite called Doge-1 on a mission paid for with Dogecoin, the DealBook newsletter reports.

The announcement came the morning after Mr. Musk dropped a few Dogecoin references as host of “Saturday Night Live,” at one point calling the token “a hustle.” Dogecoin, which is based on an internet meme about a Shiba Inu, fell by nearly a third in price on the night of the show. It was such an eventful night for the cryptocurrency that the Robinhood trading app couldn’t keep up. The crypto token is still up more than 10,000 percent in price this year.

SpaceX and Geometric Energy Corporation, a Canadian technology firm, are teaming up to carry a 90-pound satellite on a Falcon 9 moon mission, according to a statement on Sunday. “Having officially transacted with DOGE for a deal of this magnitude, Geometric Energy Corporation and SpaceX have solidified DOGE as a unit of account for lunar business,” said G.E.C.’s chief executive, Samuel Reid. (A company representative confirmed to DealBook that the project was not a joke but declined to explain further.)

Away from the memes and manias, the cryptocurrency industry is maturing, as shown by its growing contingent of lobbyists in Washington and a recent hiring spree of former regulators. This month, the House passed a bill backed by crypto lobbyists to create a working group to examine frameworks for regulating digital assets.

The bill, said Representative Stephen F. Lynch, Democrat of Massachusetts, was a chance “to act proactively toward financial innovation rather than to address gaps in our regulatory framework after the fact.”

The bill is now with the Senate Banking Committee. “Financial regulators have been slow when it comes to protecting consumers from private-sector digital assets that add more risks to our financial system,” Sherrod Brown of Ohio, the committee chair, told DealBook in a statement. He declined to provide a timeline for advancing the legislation.

A United Airlines vaccine clinic at O’Hare Airport in Chicago. Employers are using on-site vaccinations to encourage workers to get shots.
Credit…Scott Olson/Getty Images

As companies make plans to fully reopen their offices across the United States, they face a delicate decision. Many would like all employees to be vaccinated when they return, but in the face of legal and P.R. risks, few employers have gone so far as to require it.

Instead, they are hoping that encouragement and incentives will suffice, Gillian Friedman and Lauren Hirsch report for The New York Times.

Legally, companies seem largely in the clear. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued guidance in December stating that employers are permitted to require employees to be vaccinated. But employers are still worried about litigation, in part because several states have proposed laws that would limit their ability to require vaccines.

“It would seem to me that employers are going to find themselves in a fairly strong position legally,” said Eric Feldman, a law professor at the University of Pennsylvania, “but that doesn’t mean they’re not going to get sued.”

So, companies are resorting to carrots over sticks. Darden offers hourly employees two hours of pay for each dose they receive. Target offers a $5 coupon to all customers and employees who receive their vaccination at a CVS at Target location. And many companies are hosting on-site clinics to make it easier to get vaccinated.

Others are experimenting with return-to-office policies that aren’t all or nothing. Salesforce will allow up to 100 fully vaccinated employees to volunteer to work together on designated floors of certain U.S. offices. Some companies are mandating the shots only for new hires.

A pop-up vaccination site in Miami Beach, Fla. Companies are debating vaccine mandates for their workers.
Credit…Eva Marie Uzcategui/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Last week, the DealBook newsletter wrote about one of the most vexing issues facing boardrooms: Should companies mandate that employees get vaccinated before returning to the workplace? Many readers shared opinions, personal experiences and suggestions for handling this complex issue. Here is a small selection, edited for clarity:

The Los Angeles area has the nation’s largest concentration of warehouses, contributing to some of the worst air pollution in the country.
Credit…Philip Cheung for The New York Times

The South Coast Air Quality Management District in Southern California on Friday adopted a rule that would force about 3,000 of the largest warehouses in the area to slash emissions from the trucks that serve the site or take other measures to improve air quality, The New York Times’s Hiroko Tabuchi reports.

Southern California is home to the nation’s largest concentration of warehouses — a hub of thousands of mammoth structures, served by belching diesel trucks, that help feed America’s booming appetite for online shopping and also contribute to the worst air pollution in the country.

The rule sets a precedent for regulating the exploding e-commerce industry, which has grown even more during the pandemic and has led to a spectacular increase in warehouse construction.

The changes could also help spur a more rapid electrification of freight tucks, a significant step toward reducing emissions from transportation, the country’s biggest source of planet-warming greenhouse gases. The emissions are a major contributor to smog-causing nitrogen oxides and diesel particulate matter pollution, which are linked to health problems including respiratory conditions.

Empty platforms at the New Jersey Transit station in Secaucus in May.
Credit…Bryan Anselm for The New York Times

Before the pandemic, the trains of New Jersey Transit could be cattle-car crowded, with strangers pressed so closely against you that you could deduce their last meal. That level of forced intimacy now seems unimaginable.

After the outbreak, ridership on New Jersey trains, which in normal times averaged 95,000 weekday passengers, plummeted to 3,500 before stabilizing at about 17,500. A similar pattern held for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s Metro-North and Long Island Rail Road lines: in February 2020, nearly 600,000 riders; two months later, fewer than 30,000.

For many months, the commuter parking lots were empty, the train stations closed, the coffee vendor gone. At night, the trains cutting through Croton-on-Hudson in Westchester or Wyandanch on Long Island or in Maplewood, N.J., were like passing ghost ships, their interior lights illuminating absence.

But in recent weeks, as more people have become vaccinated, New Jersey Transit and the M.T.A. have seen a slight uptick, to about a quarter of their normal ridership.

Perhaps this signals a gradual return to how things had been; or, perhaps, it is a harbinger of how things will be, given that many people now feel that they can work just as efficiently from home.

A 2018 Lamborghini Aventador S was one of three luxury cars seized from Mustafa Qadiri, who was indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of fraudulently obtaining more than $5 million in emergency relief funds.
Credit…United States Attorney’s Office

A man in California who received more than $5 million in Payment Protection Program loans intended to help struggling businesses during the coronavirus pandemic was arrested on Friday on federal bank fraud and other charges after he used the money to buy a Lamborghini and other luxury cars, federal prosecutors said.

The man, Mustafa Qadiri, 38, of Irvine, was indicted by a federal grand jury on four counts of bank fraud, four counts of wire fraud, one count of aggravated identity theft and six counts of money laundering, the U.S. attorney in the Central District of California announced.

Federal prosecutors said Mr. Qadiri’s efforts to obtain federal loans started in late May 2020 and netted him nearly $5.1 million by early June. Mr. Qadiri is accused of using that money to go on a spending spree that included buying a Ferrari, a Lamborghini and a Bentley and paying for “lavish vacations,” all of which are prohibited under the Payment Protection Program, prosecutors said.

Online court records did not identify a lawyer for Mr. Qadiri, and efforts to reach him by telephone and email on Sunday evening were not successful.

The 2011 Ferrari 458 Italia can sell for more than $100,000, according to Cars.com, which says in a review that the vehicle “can perform as well as strain gawkers’ necks.”

Numerous people have been arrested and charged with misusing pandemic relief funds. Mr. Qadiri is at least the third person to face charges specifying the purchase of a Lamborghini.

The Federal Aviation Administration said it had fielded 1,300 complaints of unruly passengers since February, the same number of enforcement actions it took against passengers in the past decade.
Credit…Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

Four people are facing nearly $70,000 in civil fines for clashing with airline crews over mask requirements and other safety instructions on recent flights, part of what the Federal Aviation Administration called a “disturbing increase” in the number of unruly passengers who have returned to the skies with the easing of pandemic restrictions.

The latest round of proposed fines, which passengers have 30 days to contest, came just days after the F.A.A. said that it had received more than 1,300 unruly-passenger reports from airlines since February. In the previous decade, the agency said, it took enforcement actions against 1,300 passengers total.

“We will not tolerate interfering with a flight crew and the performance of their safety duties,” Stephen Dickson, the administrator of the F.A.A., said on Twitter on May 3. “Period.”

None of the passengers now facing fines were identified by the F.A.A., which this year imposed a zero-tolerance policy for interfering with or assaulting flight attendants that carries a fine of up to $35,000 and possible jail time.

So far, the F.A.A. has identified potential violations in about 260 of the 1,300 cases referred by airlines, a spokesman for the agency said in an email on Sunday. Officials have begun enforcement actions in 20 of the cases and are preparing a number of additional enforcement actions, the spokesman said.

In 2019, before the coronavirus pandemic, there were 142 enforcement actions that stemmed from unruly passengers, according to the F.A.A. There were 159 in 2018, and 91 in 2017.

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Ukraine’s Burial Mounds Offer Meaning in a Heap of History

DNIPRO, Ukraine — Belching diesel exhaust, a bulldozer cut into a 4,000-year-old burial mound, peeling back the soil to reveal the mysteries hidden inside, including a skeleton.

For archaeologists, this excavation in the flatlands of eastern Ukraine holds the promise of discovery. For a developer, it clears the way for new country homes.

In recent years, government archaeologists, developers and farmers, who sometimes also level burial mounds in their fields to ease plowing, have seemingly been the only parties interested in the fate of Ukraine’s vast constellation of ancient graves. And few have paid much heed to preserving the dirt piles.

Hoping to correct this history of neglect, a Ukrainian nongovernmental group is agitating for the preservation of the burial mounds of Scythians and other ancient warrior cultures, partly on the grounds that they hold particular significance for a country at war today.

Guardians of the Mounds, two years ago. It has been gaining traction as a national movement since.

Russian invasion, as the Russian Army massed tanks and soldiers on Ukraine’s border, a succession of nomadic warrior cultures, including the most famous, the Scythians, built the mounds on the steppe.

displayed by the thousands at museums in Kyiv, the capital, are mere distractions from the message of the mounds, Mr. Klykavka said. And even finding the treasures in a mound does not justify dismantling it, he said.

smoking marijuana. “The Scythians enjoy it so much they howl with pleasure,” the Greek historian Herodotus wrote. They nonetheless rebuffed an invasion of their homeland by Persia, the most powerful empire of the time.

Criticism by the Guardian of the Mounds is misplaced, said Dmytro Teslenko, the chief archaeologist for the city of Dnipro, where he oversees an excavation done with a bulldozer but also shovels and brushes.

Union of Archaeologists of Ukraine. “It happens with the tacit consent or with the active participation of local bodies of cultural heritage protection,” which are eager to excavate for the possibility of finding funerary goods and less concerned about the actual dirt piles.

Members of Guardians of the Mounds, in contrast, have been rebuilding mounds. Mr. Klykavka has piled up soil on six leveled burial mound sites in a remote field north of Kyiv which holds 18 graves.

“I always feel good here,” he said, standing atop one of the mounds.

Andrew E. Kramer reported from Moscow.

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Jobs Report Is Expected to Show a Big Gain: Live Updates

jobs report Friday morning. Forecasters surveyed by Bloomberg estimate that payrolls grew by 978,000 last month and that the unemployment rate fell to 5.8 percent from 6 percent.

As coronavirus infections ebb, vaccinations spread, restrictions lift and businesses reopen, the labor market has been healing. The March gain, subject to revision on Friday, was 916,000.

“Recovery in employment will come in fits and starts,” said Diane Swonk, chief economist at the accounting firm Grant Thornton. “But we’re going to see a lot of strong gains this year.”

Mall traffic has picked up, Ms. Swonk said, but manufacturing may be hobbled by bottlenecks in the supply chain. Restaurants, hotels and travel are coming back online, she said, but it is unclear whether the job increases in those industries will exceed the seasonal gains typical at this time of year.

The economy still has a lot of ground to recover before returning to prepandemic levels. In March, there were roughly 8.4 million fewer jobs than in February 2020, and the labor force has shrunk.

Employers, particularly in the restaurant and hospitality industry, have reported scant response to help-wanted ads. Several have blamed what they call overly generous government jobless benefits, including a temporary $300-a-week federal stipend that was part of an emergency pandemic relief program.

But the most solid evidence of a real shortage of workers, many economists say, would be rising wages. And that is not happening in a sustained way. As Jerome H. Powell, the Federal Reserve chair, said at a news conference last week: “We don’t see wages moving up yet. And presumably we would see that in a really tight labor market.”

Millions of Americans have said that health concerns and child care responsibilities — with many schools and day care centers not back to normal operations — have kept them from returning to work. Millions of others who are not actively job hunting are considered on temporary layoff and expect to be hired back by their previous employers once more businesses reopen fully.

The good news, said Robert Rosener, a senior U.S. economist at Morgan Stanley, is that the choppiness in the labor market that results from successive rounds of openings and closings seems to be easing. “People are going back to work and are more likely to stay at work,” he said.

Employers say supplemental unemployment benefits are making it difficult to hire. But some former food-service workers are shifting to warehouse jobs or work-from-home positions.
Credit…Sarah Rice for The New York Times

This week the Republican governors of Montana and South Carolina said they planned to cut off federally funded pandemic unemployment assistance at the end of June, citing complaints by employers about severe labor shortages.

That means jobless workers there will no longer get a $300-a-week federal supplement to state benefits, and the states will abandon a pandemic program that helps freelancers and others who don’t qualify for state unemployment insurance. (Montana will, however, offer a $1,200 bonus for those taking jobs.)

“What was intended to be short-term financial assistance for the vulnerable and displaced during the height of the pandemic has turned into a dangerous federal entitlement, incentivizing and paying workers to stay at home,” declared Gov. Henry McMaster of South Carolina.

But that view is just one piece of a broad debate about the impact of temporarily enhanced unemployment benefits during the pandemic.

Gail Myer, whose family owns six hotels in Branson, Mo., says the $300-supplement is indeed a barrier to hiring. “I talk to people all over the country on a regular basis in the hospitality industry, and the No. 1 topic of discussion is shortage of labor,” he said.

Before the pandemic, Mr. Myer said, there were about 150 full-time employees at his six hotels. Now, staffing is down about 15 percent, he said. Jobs at Myer Hospitality for housekeepers, breakfast attendants and receptionists are advertised as paying $12.75 to $14 an hour, plus benefits and a $500 signing bonus.

Worker advocacy groups offer a different perspective. “The shortage of restaurant workers we are seeing across the country is not a labor-shortage problem; it’s a wage-shortage problem,” said Saru Jayaraman, president of One Fair Wage, a minimum-wage advocacy group.

In surveys of food service workers by One Fair Wage and the Food Labor Research Center at the University of California, Berkeley, three-quarters cited low wages and tips as the reason for leaving their jobs since the coronavirus outbreak. Fifty-five percent mentioned concerns about Covid-19 as a factor. And nearly 40 percent cited increased hostility and harassment from customers, often related to wearing masks, in addition to long-running complaints of sexual harassment.

Amy Glaser, senior vice president at the staffing firm Adecco, said former restaurant workers and others were migrating toward warehousing jobs that had raised wages to as high as $23 an hour and customer service jobs that could be done from home.

Whether the U.S. depends on open pit mines or a more environmentally friendly option called lithium brine extraction will depend on how successful groups are in blocking projects.
Credit…Gabriella Angotti-Jones for The New York Times

The United States needs to quickly find new supplies of lithium as automakers ramp up manufacturing of electric vehicles.

Lithium is used in electric car batteries because it is lightweight, can store lots of energy and can be repeatedly recharged. Other ingredients like cobalt are needed to keep the battery stable.

But production of raw materials like lithium, cobalt and nickel that are essential to these technologies are often ruinous to land, water, wildlife and people, Ivan Penn and Eric Lipton report for The New York Times. Mining is one of the dirtiest businesses out there.

That environmental toll has often been overlooked in part because there is a race underway among the United States, China, Europe and other major powers. Echoing past contests and wars over gold and oil, governments are fighting for supremacy over minerals that could help countries achieve economic and technological dominance for decades to come.

Mining companies and related businesses want to accelerate domestic production of lithium and are pressing the administration and key lawmakers to insert a $10 billion grant program into President Biden’s infrastructure bill, arguing that it is a matter of national security.

“Right now, if China decided to cut off the U.S. for a variety of reasons we’re in trouble,” said Ben Steinberg, an Obama administration official turned lobbyist. He was hired in January by ​Piedmont Lithium, which is working to build an open-pit mine in North Carolina and is one of several companies that have created a trade association for the industry.

So far, the Biden administration has not moved to help push more environmentally friendly options — like lithium brine extraction, instead of open pit mines. Ultimately, federal and state officials will decide which of the two methods is approved. Both could take hold. Much will depend on how successful environmentalists, tribes and local groups are in blocking projects.

Investors have put more than $475 million into Cerebras, a start-up that makes artificial-intelligence processors.
Credit…Jessica Chou for The New York Times

Even as a chip shortage is causing trouble for all sorts of industries, the semiconductor field is entering a surprising new era of creativity, from industry giants to innovative start-ups seeing a spike in funding from venture capitalists that traditionally avoided chip makers, Don Clark reports for The New York Times.

“It’s a bloody miracle,” said Jim Keller, a veteran chip designer whose résumé includes stints at Apple, Tesla and Intel and who now works at the artificial intelligence chip start-up Tenstorrent. “Ten years ago you couldn’t do a hardware start-up.”

Chip design teams are no longer working just for traditional chip companies, said Pierre Lamond, a 90-year-old venture capitalist who joined the chip industry in 1957. “They are breaking new ground in many respects,” he said.

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The electric-vehicle race is creating a gold rush for lithium, raising environmental concerns.

The United States needs to quickly find new supplies of lithium as automakers ramp up manufacturing of electric vehicles.

Lithium is used in electric car batteries because it is lightweight, can store lots of energy and can be repeatedly recharged. Other ingredients like cobalt are needed to keep the battery stable.

But production of raw materials like lithium, cobalt and nickel that are essential to these technologies are often ruinous to land, water, wildlife and people, Ivan Penn and Eric Lipton report for The New York Times. Mining is one of the dirtiest businesses out there.

That environmental toll has often been overlooked in part because there is a race underway among the United States, China, Europe and other major powers. Echoing past contests and wars over gold and oil, governments are fighting for supremacy over minerals that could help countries achieve economic and technological dominance for decades to come.

hired in January by ​Piedmont Lithium, which is working to build an open-pit mine in North Carolina and is one of several companies that have created a trade association for the industry.

So far, the Biden administration has not moved to help push more environmentally friendly options — like lithium brine extraction, instead of open pit mines. Ultimately, federal and state officials will decide which of the two methods is approved. Both could take hold. Much will depend on how successful environmentalists, tribes and local groups are in blocking projects.

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The Lithium Gold Rush: Inside the Race to Power Electric Vehicles

Atop a long-dormant volcano in northern Nevada, workers are preparing to start blasting and digging out a giant pit that will serve as the first new large-scale lithium mine in the United States in more than a decade — a new domestic supply of an essential ingredient in electric car batteries and renewable energy.

The mine, constructed on leased federal lands, could help address the near total reliance by the United States on foreign sources of lithium.

But the project, known as Lithium Americas, has drawn protests from members of a Native American tribe, ranchers and environmental groups because it is expected to use billions of gallons of precious ground water, potentially contaminating some of it for 300 years, while leaving behind a giant mound of waste.

“Blowing up a mountain isn’t green, no matter how much marketing spin people put on it,” said Max Wilbert, who has been living in a tent on the proposed mine site while two lawsuits seeking to block the project wend their way through federal courts.

Electric cars and renewable energy may not be as green as they appear. Production of raw materials like lithium, cobalt and nickel that are essential to these technologies are often ruinous to land, water, wildlife and people.

That environmental toll has often been overlooked in part because there is a race underway among the United States, China, Europe and other major powers. Echoing past contests and wars over gold and oil, governments are fighting for supremacy over minerals that could help countries achieve economic and technological dominance for decades to come.

Developers and lawmakers see this Nevada project, given final approval in the last days of the Trump administration, as part of the opportunity for the United States to become a leader in producing some of these raw materials as President Biden moves aggressively to fight climate change. In addition to Nevada, businesses have proposed lithium production sites in California, Oregon, Tennessee, Arkansas and North Carolina.

But traditional mining is one of the dirtiest businesses out there. That reality is not lost on automakers and renewable-energy businesses.

“Our new clean-energy demands could be creating greater harm, even though its intention is to do good,” said Aimee Boulanger, executive director for the Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance, a group that vets mines for companies like BMW and Ford Motor. “We can’t allow that to happen.”

assembled by Bloomberg, and a hint of the frenzy underway.

Some of those investors are backing alternatives including a plan to extract lithium from briny water beneath California’s largest lake, the Salton Sea, about 600 miles south of the Lithium Americas site.

At the Salton Sea, investors plan to use specially coated beads to extract lithium salt from the hot liquid pumped up from an aquifer more than 4,000 feet below the surface. The self-contained systems will be connected to geothermal power plants generating emission-free electricity. And in the process, they hope to generate the revenue needed to restore the lake, which has been fouled by toxic runoff from area farms for decades.

Businesses are also hoping to extract lithium from brine in Arkansas, Nevada, North Dakota and at least one more location in the United States.

The United States needs to quickly find new supplies of lithium as automakers ramp up manufacturing of electric vehicles. Lithium is used in electric car batteries because it is lightweight, can store lots of energy and can be repeatedly recharged. Analysts estimate that lithium demand is going to increase tenfold before the end of this decade as Tesla, Volkswagen, General Motors and other automakers introduce dozens of electric models. Other ingredients like cobalt are needed to keep the battery stable.

Even though the United States has some of the world’s largest reserves, the country today has only one large-scale lithium mine, Silver Peak in Nevada, which first opened in the 1960s and is producing just 5,000 tons a year — less than 2 percent of the world’s annual supply. Most of the raw lithium used domestically comes from Latin America or Australia, and most of it is processed and turned into battery cells in China and other Asian countries.

In March, she announced grants to increase production of crucial minerals. “This is a race to the future that America is going to win,” she said.

So far, the Biden administration has not moved to help push more environmentally friendly options — like lithium brine extraction, instead of open pit mines. The Interior Department declined to say whether it would shift its stand on the Lithium Americas permit, which it is defending in court.

Mining companies and related businesses want to accelerate domestic production of lithium and are pressing the administration and key lawmakers to insert a $10 billion grant program into Mr. Biden’s infrastructure bill, arguing that it is a matter of national security.

“Right now, if China decided to cut off the U.S. for a variety of reasons we’re in trouble,” said Ben Steinberg, an Obama administration official turned lobbyist. He was hired in January by ​Piedmont Lithium, which is working to build an open-pit mine in North Carolina and is one of several companies that have created a trade association for the industry.

Investors are rushing to get permits for new mines and begin production to secure contracts with battery companies and automakers.

Ultimately, federal and state officials will decide which of the two methods — traditional mining or brine extraction — is approved. Both could take hold. Much will depend on how successful environmentalists, tribes and local groups are in blocking projects.

370 feet.

Mr. Bartell’s biggest fear is that the mine will consume the water that keeps his cattle alive. The company has said the mine will consume 3,224 gallons per minute. That could cause the water table to drop on land Mr. Bartell owns by an estimated 12 feet, according to a Lithium Americas consultant.

While producing 66,000 tons a year of battery-grade lithium carbonate, the mine may cause groundwater contamination with metals including antimony and arsenic, according to federal documents.

The lithium will be extracted by mixing clay dug out from the mountainside with as much as 5,800 tons a day of sulfuric acid. This whole process will also create 354 million cubic yards of mining waste that will be loaded with discharge from the sulfuric acid treatment, and may contain modestly radioactive uranium, permit documents disclose.

A December assessment by the Interior Department found that over its 41-year life, the mine would degrade nearly 5,000 acres of winter range used by pronghorn antelope and hurt the habitat of the sage grouse. It would probably also destroy a nesting area for a pair of golden eagles whose feathers are vital to the local tribe’s religious ceremonies.

a lawsuit to try to block the mine.

At the Fort McDermitt Indian Reservation, anger over the project has boiled over, even causing some fights between members as Lithium Americas has offered to hire tribal members in jobs that will pay an average annual wage of $62,675 — twice the county’s per capita income — but that will come with a big trade-off.

“Tell me, what water am I going to drink for 300 years?” Deland Hinkey, a member of the tribe, yelled as a federal official arrived at the reservation in March to brief tribal leaders on the mining plan. “Anybody, answer my question. After you contaminate my water, what I am going to drink for 300 years? You are lying!”

The reservation is nearly 50 miles from the mine site — and far beyond the area where groundwater may be contaminated — but tribe members fear the pollution could spread.

hiring a lobbying team that includes a former Trump White House aide, Jonathan Slemrod.

Lithium Americas, which estimates there is $3.9 billion worth of recoverable lithium at the site, hopes to start mining operations next year. Its largest shareholder is the Chinese company Ganfeng Lithium.

CalEnergy, and another business, Energy Source, have tapped the Buttes’ geothermal heat to produce electricity. The systems use naturally occurring underground steam. This same water is loaded with lithium.

Now, Berkshire Hathaway and two other companies — Controlled Thermal Resources and Materials Research — want to install equipment that will extract lithium after the water passes through the geothermal plants, in a process that will take only about two hours.

Rod Colwell, a burly Australian, has spent much of the last decade pitching investors and lawmakers on putting the brine to use. In February, a backhoe plowed dirt on a 7,000-acre site being developed by his company, Controlled Thermal Resources.

“This is the sweet spot,” Mr. Colwell said. “This is the most sustainable lithium in the world, made in America. Who would have thought it? We’ve got this massive opportunity.”

unemployment rate of nearly 16 percent.

“Our region is very rich in natural resources and mineral resources,” said Luis Olmedo, executive director of Comite Civico del Valle, which represents area farm workers. “However, they’re very poorly distributed. The population has not been afforded a seat at the table.”

The state has given millions in grants to lithium extraction companies, and the Legislature is considering requiring carmakers by 2035 to use California sources for some of the lithium in vehicles they sell in the state, the country’s largest electric-car market.

But even these projects have raised some questions.

Geothermal plants produce energy without emissions, but they can require tens of billions of gallons of water annually for cooling. And lithium extraction from brine dredges up minerals like iron and salt that need to be removed before the brine is injected back into the ground.

Similar extraction efforts at the Salton Sea have previously failed. In 2000, CalEnergy proposed spending $200 million to extract zinc and to help restore the Salton Sea. The company gave up on the effort in 2004.

opened demonstration projects using the brine extraction technology, with Standard Lithium tapping into a brine source already being extracted from the ground by an Arkansas chemical plant, meaning it did not need to take additional water from the ground.

“This green aspect is incredibly important,” said Robert Mintak, chief executive of Standard Lithium, who hopes the company will produce 21,000 tons a year of lithium in Arkansas within five years if it can raise $440 million in financing. “The Fred Flintstone approach is not the solution to the lithium challenge.”

Lilac Solutions, whose clients include Controlled Thermal Resources, is also working on direct lithium extraction in Nevada, North Dakota and at least one other U.S. location that it would not disclose. The company predicts that within five years, these projects could produce about 100,000 tons of lithium annually, or 20 times current domestic production.

Executives from companies like Lithium Americans question if these more innovative approaches can deliver all the lithium the world needs.

But automakers are keen to pursue approaches that have a much smaller impact on the environment.

“Indigenous tribes being pushed out or their water being poisoned or any of those types of issues, we just don’t want to be party to that,” said Sue Slaughter, Ford’s purchasing director for supply chain sustainability. “We really want to force the industries that we’re buying materials from to make sure that they’re doing it in a responsible way. As an industry, we are going to be buying so much of these materials that we do have significant power to leverage that situation very strongly. And we intend to do that.”

Gabriella Angotti-Jones contributed reporting.

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Pandora, the world’s largest jewelry maker, moves from mined to lab-created diamonds.

Pandora, the world’s biggest jeweler by volume, said on Tuesday that it will no longer use mined diamonds for any new designs, and is switching to man-made stones produced in laboratories instead.

The Copenhagen-based company said it would release its first collection to use synthetic stones in Britain this year before turning to other markets in 2022. The range of rings, bangles and earrings will feature stones from 0.15 to 1 carat in size. Pandora’s chief executive, Alexander Lacik, said in a statement Tuesday that diamonds should be affordable as well as sustainable.

Lab-grown diamonds are physically, chemically and optically identical to mined diamonds, and proponents say that their production results in less environmental damage than traditional mining practices, and also doesn’t have the same associations with human rights abuses. Prices of man-made diamonds have fallen over the past two years after the miner De Beers started offering synthetic stones in 2018, and they are now up to 10 times cheaper than mined diamonds, according to a report by Bain & Company.

While mined diamonds went into about 50,000 Pandora pieces of jewelry out of a total of 85 million items made last year, meaning the shift required within the company supply chain will be negligible, the announcement by Pandora is the latest by a major industry player looking to address growing ethical concerns held by consumers about the jewelry business. The jeweler has already said it will only use recycled gold and silver beginning 2025.

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