FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contacts: Bethany Sam, Will Falk, Max Wilbert
RENO, NV — On Monday, Judge Miranda Du issued her decision in the consolidated Thacker Pass court cases including Case No. 3:21-cv-00080-MMD-CLB, the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony and Burns Paiute Tribe lawsuit against the Bureau of Land Management.
Judge Du ruled against the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony and all the other plaintiffs except on one, limited argument. She found that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) did not determine whether or not Lithium Nevada possesses valid mineral rights for 1,300 of the 18,000 acres that the mine would cover. The judge is allowing the rest of the mine to proceed while BLM determines whether Lithium Nevada possesses those rights.
“We have expected this decision for some time,” said Arlan Melendez, Chairman of the Reno- Sparks Indian Colony. “This does not mean consultation was done correctly and it does not mean this fight is over. We will be continuing to advocate for this sacred site.”
The Reno-Sparks Indian Colony attorney Will Falk said in a statement, “Law is a limited tactic – especially in public lands mining cases where the law presumes corporations have a right to mine. If we’re going to truly protect Thacker Pass, we’re going to have to do more than file lawsuits and litigate in court. We cannot rely on the government or a judge to protect Thacker Pass. We’ll have to do it ourselves.”
Falk is the co-founder of Protect Thacker Pass, which led a protest camp on the site for much of 2021.
Thacker Pass, known as Peehee Mu’huh in Paiute, is a sacred site to regional tribes whose ancestors lived in the area for thousands of years, and were massacred there on at least two occasions. It’s also critical habitat for wildlife including pronghorn, Greater sage-grouse, golden eagles, mule deer, and an endangered snail species, the King’s River Pyrg.
Lithium Nevada claims that its lithium mine will be essential to producing batteries for combating global warming, and the Biden administration has previously indicated some support for Thacker Pass. Opponents of the project have called this “greenwashing,” arguing that the project would harm important wildlife habitat and create significant pollution. They say that electric cars are still harmful to the planet.