We encourage supporters to submit comments to the BLM at every opportunity regarding all mining-related activities at Thacker Pass and throughout the McDermitt Caldera. However, we also recognize that doing so is unlikely to stop any of the planned mines in this area. Why? Because the 1872 mining law legislates that extraction is the highest use of the land, and if a mining company jumps through all of the hoops required for an Environmental Impact Statement that demonstrates extractable minerals and metals at a mining claim site, the BLM has little or no discretion to refuse a mine permit.
We encourage supporters to contact your representatives and voice your opposition to mining at Thacker Pass and throughout the McDermitt Caldera. Again, we also recognize that doing so is very unlikely to stop a mine. Federal Legislation is able to protect a region by designating it as a National Monument or other protected area, but this is challenging.
We tried using these tactics to stop the Thacker Pass lithium mine, and we failed. We contacted our representatives, we submitted comments to the BLM, we helped tribes file lawsuits, and none of it worked. We even tried non-violent direct action. This too failed because there weren’t enough of us, and the mining company filed a lawsuit against us. If there are only a few protestors, it is easy for the mining company to stop us by using the police to enforce the law—the law that says that mining is allowed and encouraged on public lands—and haul protestors off to jail. It is easy for the company to stop us by filing a lawsuit.
There are many ways to stop a mine, but most of them are outside of our control. We cannot force government agencies to deny a permit, or easily facilitate the creation of national monuments for places that are under imminent threat.
What does that leave us with? It leaves us with the methods of people’s movements, freedom fighters, and revolutionaries throughout history. One of these methods is non-violent direct action: to put our bodies in the way of the machines. To do this effectively we need enough people that it is impossible for the mining company to sue us all, and impossible for the police to arrest us all. In other words, we need thousands of people. Tens of thousands of people. If we had that many people we could stop the machines, block the highway, and end mine construction.
To get tens of thousands of people aligned on this mission requires that we put aside our differences in service to protecting the land, the water, the air, and the natural world. That is the only way we can succeed.
Are you willing to do what it takes to defend the land?
Are you willing to find other people to help?
Are you willing to prioritize defending the natural world above all else?
Until we have tens of thousands of people willing to stand up and say NO, we will continue to fail. That doesn’t mean we stop trying; that doesn’t mean we stop contacting our legislators and sending comments to the BLM; that doesn’t mean we stop writing articles and documenting the destruction and fighting as hard as we can.
But we know we will almost certainly fail with these methods alone. There are other ways to win.
The question is: are you willing to do it?
What will you do to help defend the land today??