Tribes, environmentalists urge U.S. appeals court to block Nevada lithium mine project
Environmentalists and tribes are urging a U.S. appeals court to overturn a judge’s decision that allowed construction to begin on a huge lithium mine in Nevada.
An environmental lawyer told a three-judge panel that the U.S. judge in Reno abused her discretion when she concluded federal land managers had illegally approved parts of the mining plan but allowed it to go forward anyway. He says thousands of acres of sage brush habitat for sage grouse and other species is “essentially being clear-cut.”
The Nevada mine at Thacker Pass near the Oregon line has pitted environmentalists and Native Americans against President Joe Biden’s plans to combat climate change and could have broad implications for mining operations across the West. The mine would involve extraction of the silvery-white metal used in electric-vehicle batteries.
It’s the first time the San Francisco-based appellate court has considered the merits of such a case since it blocked construction of an Arizona copper mine last year based on a more stringent interpretation of a Civil War-era mining law regarding the use of neighboring lands to dispose of waste.
Lawyers for the Bureau of Land Management, the agency that approved the mine, and the mining company, Lithium Nevada Corp., denied the mine would cause any serious harm to sage grouse or other species.