Conservationists and indigenous people are challenging plans for two lithium mines and a geothermal power plant in Nevada, USA.
A report from Associated Press stated the federal government plans to transition the economy to green energy and EVs by 2035. But regardless, lithium mining for EV batteries must still comply with laws designed to protect wildlife habitat, cultural and historical values, and guard against pollution or other degradation of federal lands.
The report said Lithium Nevada plans to begin construction in December on the Oregon border. According to the company’s recent court filings, it is “vital to our national security and nation’s need for lithium to support green energy development and achieve climate change objectives.”
But, in addition to concerns about toxic waste, the mine sits on federal land that indigenous tribes say is a sacred site where dozens of their ancestors were massacred by the US Cavalry in 1865.
Another big lithium mine planned for halfway between Reno and Las Vegas is home to a rare desert wildflower the US Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed for listing under the Endangered Species Act.
The Great Basin Resource Watch and others say the lithium mine will produce toxic waste. And they accuse regulators of rubber-stamping industry plans without a thorough review of the potential harms.
“Everything seems to be in the hands of the mining company,” Sarah Wochele, a mining justice organiser for the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada, said at last month’s appeal hearing. “And we just ignorantly praise new technology, new technology.”
And the geothermal power plant faces challenges in the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals. The site is home to a rare toad protected under the Endangered Species Act. It lives in the same hot springs where indigenous Americans have worshipped for thousands of years.