Reporting from #ThackerPass #Nevada – site of a massive proposed lithium mine. Nevada government and federal agencies have fast-tracked the sacrifice of this mountainside in favor of a $1.3 billion dollar mine that could produce tens of billions in profits.

Meanwhile, local streams will be polluted, Lahontan cutthroat trout spawning grounds will be smothered under radioactive sediment, Pronghorn antelope migration routes blocked, Greater sage-grouse habitat blasted to nothing, local people will have to deal with acid rain, ancient cultural sites will be desecrated, and this quiet wilderness will be turned into an industrialized zone — unless the project is stopped.

All right, well, we spent yesterday at Rhyolite Ridge, the proposed lithium mine. Got on the road last night, left that site, ran into bighorn sheep on the way out of there – desert bighorns. Last night we drove a few more hours through the desert until we got too tired to continue and stopped in this canyon. We’re on the way up to Thacker Pass up north of here. The sun’s just coming up over on the side of the valley here. Beautiful sunrise. The moon’s going down over the hill right up here. This is a beautiful little camp spot that we stumbled into in the dark last night…creek running through here. Water is really truly life here in the desert.

Yesterday was pretty brutal. Seeing the Rhyolite Ridge site in person, exploring it, seeing the wildlife who lives there, hearing about what’s going to happen from these biologists who have followed the project closely – it was brutal. I left there with a clenching stomach ache and, you know, a real sense of dread for what’s coming on that project, what could happen.

So this Thacker Pass site is even on a faster timeline. It’s being fast tracked. They’ve cut the public comment periods. They have shortened the review process. They have streamlined a lot of the environmental regulations to permit projects like this under the current administration. So it’s it’s a real fast track project. It’s something that is imminent and it’s a major threat. So, I guess I can’t say I’m looking forward to seeing the site. I’m looking forward to meeting the wildlife, meeting the wild place, but that clenched sensation in my gut starts to come back when I think about it. So we’re going to have to see what it looks like up there today, what we see on the ground. We’ve got a couple more hours on the road before we get there, so we’ll be up there later this morning.

This is a really beautiful place and it’s hard to know that it’s slated for destruction soon, very soon. This mining company Lithium America’s – it’s a Canadian-Chinese company, I believe, headquartered in Vancouver BC with a Nevada subsidiary, Lithium Nevada – they want to get this mine permitted in the next few months. They want to get the permits finalized and ready to go so that they can build starting in next year. Starting not too far from now. I put in public comment on this project, knowing that that’s system is broken. I mean, these agencies were set up to regulate public input, not to regulate the industries that they purport to be regulating. They cut the comment period for this one. In their document…in the BLM document prepared for this project, and in the draft environmental impact survey, they say the purpose of this document is to approve this project. Not to assess this project. Not to figure out whether it’s in the public interest. Not to look at whether it has unacceptable environmental consequences, but to permit the project. It’s a rubber stamping. And this is what they’re going to destroy – this old-growth sagebrush habitat. 6,000 acres…6,000 acres. On top of the mine there would be processing facilities over here – a sulfur burning plant to provide sulfuric acid for processing – extremely polluting, as well as acid rain concerns. You would have processing facilities. You would have loading areas and dumping zones. You’d have an expansion of this electrical line along here to provide power to the project.

It’s quiet up here right now. Can’t hear anything but the wind, the insects, a few birds. This project goes ahead and what you’ll hear here all day every day for 25 years is explosions. Heavy machinery. Massive dump trucks. This is the cost of bright green lies. Everything between here and the main paved road, which is running down the center of the valley down where those power lines are, everything on this side would be part of the mine and the open-pit would probably go from around where this drainage is over here to maybe all the way over here, maybe even past what we can see over to the left, almost two miles wide. And a mile from from basically here, a little bit in front of us to the road would be dug out. And I was wrong earlier. I thought it was a 25 year mine life but this would be a 41 year mine. That’s just what they say. They’d probably try to keep it going and extend its life after that 41 years.

(- Is that a coyote? – Sure is.
– It’s unusual to hear just one, isn’t it? – They’re so far away I could just barely hear them. I think they’re probably over on the other side of the road in that area which would be the exploration area there, or somewhere up in those hills maybe. – Anybody got a good coyote howl. Want to try talking to them?)