Photograph of old-growth sagebrush at Thacker Pass at sunset by Sarah Gar
By Sarah Gar | April 6, 2021
A recent Cornell University report links 40% of human deaths today to pollution, so why doesn’t this pandemic dominate the news cycle? Why don’t communities immediately band together to protect the environment on which their lives clearly depend? Many people hope that the mainstream environmental movement’s alternative energy technologies will render our society’s unsustainable consumption rates more sustainable. However, we need only look as far as the soon-to-be constructed lithium mine in nearby Thacker Pass, Nevada, for evidence that this faith is sorely mistaken.
Let’s take a quick look at this so-called “green” mining project, designed to supply lithium for the batteries used in electric cars and in power grids fueled by wind and solar energy. Like mining projects everywhere, the proposed mine and chemical processing facilities pose many public health and safety threats. Various public safety threats, including violence against indigenous women, commonly accompany the “man camps” of temporary workers associated with extraction projects. Many Paiute and Shoshone people involved in the Protect Thacker Pass campaign also protest threats to sacred cultural sites and wildlife. Meanwhile, at weekly meetings in Orovada, ranchers and others in the recently-formed Thacker Pass Concerned Citizens group express worries about major infrastructure difficulties and dangers accompanying road-crowding by haz-mat trucks. Additional concerns mentioned include negative effects on grazing claims, employment, and property values.