In a video from Thacker Pass this morning, Max describes the status of the legal efforts to Protect Thacker Pass / Peehee Mu’huh.
Yesterday, a judge in the federal court in Reno heard arguments on a preliminary injunction motion filed against the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and Lithium Nevada Corporation (LNC) by the four environmental organizations who are suing the BLM and LNC. The lawsuit claims the Record of Decision by the BLM violates the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA) and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). On June 8, the group filed the injunction motion to prevent the BLM and LNC from proceeding with mine construction until their lawsuit is heard in court.In court yesterday, the judge heard arguments from the BLM and Lithium Nevada, as well as lawyers for the four environmental groups. The judge did not decide on the injunction motion yesterday, but we expect a decision on this motion by July 29.
On Tuesday, Reno Sparks Indian Colony and People of Red Mountain filed a motion to intervene in this case. This means that Reno Sparks Indian Colony and People of Red Mountain want to join the lawsuit against BLM and LNC as plaintiffs.
The motion to intervene brings new arguments to the case that fall under the National Historic Preservation Act. Under this law, the federal government is required to consult with native tribes with connections to the land before digging in or mining the land. We believe there is a strong case that the federal government has violated this law. We expect the judge to decide whether to let Reno Sparks Indian Colony and People of Red Mountain intervene in the case in the next couple of weeks.
The National Historic Preservation Act is not a strong law for protecting the land. The law does not say corporations can’t dig up a place or mine a place; it just says that the federal government must consult with tribes prior to permitting the digging and mining of a place. The government is not obliged to deny the permit even if the people with whom they consult are opposed to the mining of the land. This law is colonial law: it gives the federal government jurisdiction over land, which, in the case of Thacker Pass / Peehee Mu’huh, was never formally ceded by the tribes. There is no treaty signed that covers the Thacker Pass area, so there is no legal basis for the state of Nevada or the Federal Government to claim the land, other than the doctrine of discovery, the original law of colonization and genocide on this continent.
We will continue to use all legal tools available to us to fight the Thacker Pass Lithium Mine, despite the National Historic Preservation Act being a weak law. Whether we like it or not, the court exists, the federal government believes it has jurisdiction over this land, and so we must fight the mine using these tools. But we will not count on these legal tools working, and so that is why we continue to occupy the land in opposition to the mine.
There are three key decisions we are waiting on: the judge’s decision about whether to let Reno Sparks Indian Colony and People of Red Mountain to join the case; the decision on the injunction motion from the four environmental groups, and the decision from the BLM about whether to issue the permit for archeological digging. If the judge decides not to allow Reno Sparks Indian Colony and People of Red Mountain to join the case and rejects the injunction motion, and the BLM decides to issue the permit, then Far Western Archeology Research Group can commence digging as soon as July 29.
However, we hope at least one of these decisions goes our way, in which case digging could be delayed until August.
Either way, we continue to occupy Thacker Pass / Peehee Mu’huh and prepare to resist any corporate activity from LNC or Far Western. We must not forget that the legal system, federal law, and regulations are all set up to allow projects like the Thacker Pass Lithium Mine to go forward, no matter the impact to the land, the water, the air, or the human and non-human communities a mine like this will have. The system is stacked against us.
We have each other! We must join together, and take advantage of any time we gain to continue to pressure the people in power, and prepare to put our bodies on the line. We will continue to pressure the Secretary of the Interior, Deb Haaland, our representatives in government, and local officials to rescind existing permits and deny the outstanding permits for this mine, and to meet with the Reno Sparks Indian Colony and People of Red Mountain and listen to their concerns.