We are very sad to report that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have agreed to let Lithium Nevada destroy golden eagle habitat at Thacker Pass.
Here is their announcement:
“The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service received an application from Lithium Nevada Corporation requesting eagle take coverage under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act. The application requested authorization for incidental disturbance take of one golden eagle breeding territory located in proximity to the proposed Thacker Pass Lithium Mine Project in Humboldt County, Nevada. Project operations and activities may disturb the golden eagles and prevent them from breeding and producing offspring.
…the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service plans to issue a permit to Lithium Nevada Corporation for incidental disturbance take of one golden eagle breeding territory in the vicinity of Thacker Pass Lithium Mine Project. We anticipate issuing the permit in April 2022.”
As we’ve said countless times, a “permit” is a permission to destroy the land, in this case, land that is critical habitat for golden eagles.
As Max Wilbert wrote back in February, 2021:
“It is a federal crime for me or you to harm an eagle, or to disturb or destroy their nest. It’s even a crime for non-Natives to possess a single feather. But as usual, in an extractive economy, corporations don’t have to play by the same rules as we do.
Lithium Americas Corporation, the company behind the proposed lithium mine at Thacker Pass, has asked the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) for an “incidental take” permit. And it’s likely the agency will grant it.
The law was designed with loopholes to ensure that wildlife never get in the way of “progress.” At the end of 2016, the Fish and Wildlife Service under the Obama administration weakened protections for bald and golden eagles at the behest of the wind energy industry. Progress, after all, should never be halted.
The USFWS permit would allow Lithium Americas to legally kill golden eagles and disrupt or destroy nests and habitat. If the proposed open-pit mine at Thacker Pass is built, it would impact up to a dozen breeding pairs of golden eagles who reside in this area—and maybe far more.
An insider with knowledge of the situation told me that the population surveys used by USFWS are known for “making sure corporations get their permits.” Eagles mustn’t get in the way of profits.
There are only 40,000 golden eagles left in this country, and that number continues to dwindle.”
If you would like to call and tell the US Fish and Wildlife Service what you think of their decision, you can do so here: (916) 414-6600
Mixed media collage: Transgression, by Elisabeth Robson