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U.S. District Judge Declines to Block Nevada Lithium Mine’s Construction

U.S. District Judge Declines to Block Nevada Lithium Mine’s Construction

U.S. District Judge Miranda Du in her ruling also asked the Bureau of Land Management to revisit a portion of its environmental analysis.

In a sign that at least some people understand that you have to use Earth’s natural resources to develop any form of fuel energy, a U.S. judge has denied opponents’ efforts to block the construction of a lithium mine at the nation’s largest known deposit of the rare metal widely used in rechargeable batteries.

The ruling marks a significant victory for Canada-based Lithium Americas Corp. at its subsidiary’s project near Nevada’s border with Oregon, and a setback — at least for now — for conservationists, tribes and a Nevada rancher who have all been fighting it for two years. The opponents said they are considering an appeal based in part on growing questions raised about the reach of an 150-year-old mining law.

It’s the latest development in a series of high-stakes legal battles that pit environmentalists and others against so-called “green energy” projects President Joe Biden’s administration is pushing to help speed the nation’s transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy.

The White House says the mine on the Nevada-Oregon line is critical to ramped up efforts to producing raw materials for electric vehicle batteries.

As I noted, the Biden administration had been clashing with conservation groups and Native American tribes over this mine.

The judge also required the Bureau of Land Management, which has been dragging its heels only on anything related to fossil fuel development, to beef up its required environmental impact assessment for the mine.

But U.S. District Judge Miranda Du in her ruling also asked the Bureau of Land Management to revisit a portion of its environmental analysis. The agency violated federal law by failing to validate that developer Lithium Americas Corp. has the rights to dump waste and tailings on about 1,300 acres at the site in Humboldt County, the judge concluded.

While the court’s decision is a setback for environmental groups, nearby Indigenous communities and a local rancher opposed to the project, it marks a significant milestone for the mine, which would be built on 5,700 acres of federal land in north Nevada.

The eco-activists are disappointed, but they will persist.

In a statement, Western Watersheds Project, one of the plaintiffs, expressed disappointment at the green light for the project but called it a victory that BLM will have to demonstrate lack of environmental harms.

“We don’t know yet what the next steps will be, but we know we won’t stop fighting this destructive mine,” Greta Anderson, deputy director of Western Watersheds Project, said in a statement. “We need to find truly just and sustainable solutions for the climate crisis, and not by digging ourselves deeper into the biodiversity crisis.”

Meanwhile, both the mining company is happy with the ruling. And one auto manufacturer plans to pour millions into the mine’s development.

“The favorable ruling leaves in place the final regulatory approval needed in moving Thacker Pass into construction,” Jonathan Evans, Lithium Americas’ president and CEO, said in a statement Tuesday. The company expects production to begin in the second half of 2026.

Last week, General Motors Co. announced it had conditionally agreed to invest $650 million in Lithium Americas in a deal that will give GM exclusive access to the first phase of the Thacker Pass mine. The equity investment is contingent on the project clearing the final environmental and legal challenges it faces in federal court in Reno.


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JackinSilverSpring | February 10, 2023 at 7:39 am

Environmentalalists are bat-excrement crazy or evil. They oppose fossil-fuels to save the Gaia from catastrophic anthropogenic waming (that is not happening) and that want to electify everything in sight with ruinable that will need lithium, and here they are opposing the mining of lithium. Of course they are in part correct about lithium mining being environmentally degrading, but they cannot make contradictory demands unless of course they are misanthropes or nuts.

    Precisely. Energy is gained by *exploiting* *new* resources.
    Not, as our scientifically illiterate “battery generation” assumes, simply by running wires to each others’ pockets.

      BierceAmbrose in reply to henrybowman. | February 10, 2023 at 2:37 pm

      I’m so old, I remember when power line cuts across the wild were horrible environmental affronts.

      These clowns are all urban / sububban. They’ve never seen anything that’s not concrete and hedges grown on top of slash and burn.

I’d rather we drill smaller holes and remove hydrocarbons than level mountains and make huge gashes (not to mention leaving potentially poisonous tailings) to extract an element whose value is driven by social engineering (and still hasn’t been proven to be superior to fossil fuels by all metrics). It’s a fad, and just like “top surgery” and hormone treatments, this too, shall pass and leave scars in its trail.

Connect all the dots and project all the vectors. Do the math and physics and leave nothing out of the equation. Lithium (and other battery formulations) powered cars are not the answer. We are being manipulated in the same way the WEF and Soros and Big Tech and Pharma are manipulating us. Leave the mountains of Nevada alone.

Suburban Farm Guy | February 10, 2023 at 8:12 am

China is pretty far from my back yard*. Good place for the environmental catastrophe with which virtue-signaling electric car obsessives insist on wrecking the Earth. The New Woke Physics says nothing is impossible if you really, really, really mean well and aren’t an evil Republican. 2+2 can equal 17 as long as you are smashing the patriarchy and colonialism.

Yes. You can destroy the planet and exploit slave children just to show your neighborhood what a truly good person you are.

The luddite environmentalists don’t want modernity. They seek to block hydropower, fossil fuels and mining of the components necessary for solar and battery storage. The grifters occupy another area, they want direct subsidies and special tax treatment for their ‘renewable’ products. This is an example of the internal battle between two groups in the d/prog coalition.

“…the rare metal widely used in rechargeable batteries.”

Yes, and it requires massive excavators and earth movers which use millions of gallons of fuel, oil, coolants, and fleets of support vehicles to strip mine the ore out of holes larger than most counties.

So green. So sustainable. Such smug invincible ignorance so we all can virtue signal about our green economy.

    BierceAmbrose in reply to LB1901. | February 10, 2023 at 2:50 pm

    Mine tailings are among the worst kinds of waste.

    That is, unless the EPA dumps well-contained tailing ponds into an otherwise live river — you can see it happen from *the color of the spill from the metals in it.*

Dolce Far Niente | February 10, 2023 at 10:27 am

Like all leftists, they would prefer the results of their policies, in this case batteries for their unicorn-fart powered cars, to be constructed in China

That way, only unimportant Chinese laborers are subjected to the toxic environment of lithium mining.

In their disordered brains, out of sight really IS out of mind. Literally doesn’t exist.

Wait until the higher up court gets it shit down

obama screwed up – nominating a judge that will rule against the environmentalists

Too little, too late.
Lithium is already on the way out. Salt is the up-and-coming new battery technology.

There are lots of old mines in the region. I spent considerable time goofing off in that high desert area. Empire gypsum mine employed lots of very young married blue collar workers. Old Leadville – can’t even tell that there was a major mining concern there. Scavangers cleaned out the trash midens looking for old glass bottles; ore carts dragged home for yard art. Fire opal can be found, too. I found museum quality blast agate (1). Indian caves were looted long ago. Abandoned old cabins are kept in order by campers – some have new vinyl clad windows and woodstoves.

I hope the mining operation is approved.

I created the page and uploaded the photo for Wiki: King Lear Peak.