Thoughts on Thacker Pass

by Kai Huschke

It was late February. Snow blanketed the surrounding area. The sun was out, and the clouds looked small and distant. I had left the Protect Thacker Pass resistance camp to explore, to listen, to try and gain a better sense of the land. Despite knowing that I would be out for hours, I packed lightly, burdened as I was by the impending reality that this land of solitude, home to so many creatures, could soon be violently ripped open to feed a green energy monster that wants nothing more than to devour everything in its path.

We’ve collectively seen this insatiable hunger time and time again, in so many places and situations. The legacy of mining shows these rapacious dynamics starkly, whether the mined substance be gold, silver, uranium, natural gas, coal, copper, vermiculite, oil, zinc, or lithium. I say we’ve seen this hunger, yet much of the extraction is hidden from view, perpetrated in places deemed out-of-the-way, forgotten, or useless. Remote northern Nevada may soon become one of thousands of sacrifice zones across the country. Libby, Montana. Appalachia. Navajo Nation territory. Rural Pennsylvania. Out of sight, out of mind.

The minerals pulled from these places flow into a massive toxic cocktail that poisons the globe. Thacker Pass, Nevada, is merely the frontline casualty in the bizzare spectacle of genocide and ecocide currently being spun as a clean pathway to the future. The addiction to energy has blinded many into believing that fossil fuels can be replaced with electric this-and-that. Many believe that alternative energy technologies will somehow allow us to escape the collapse our own addiction has precipitated. This delusion exposes our collective insanity. Those who manage to see through the lies must do all we can to get others to break free from this trance, yet the power of the trance makes this challenge very difficult.

We can help to break the collective hypnosis by reminding others that all of our communities have at least one Thacker Pass, if not many. Current and impending calamities warranting resistance surround us on every side, begging each of us to do whatever it takes to restore some sanity to human existence. We need to stand up, act, and transform both locally and elsewhere. Sometimes standing up, acting, and transforming in another community holds an inescapable energy, and Thacker Pass offers that resonance. Thacker Pass bears significance in the place itself and in connection to larger dynamics at play on the world stage.

As I made my way through the snow fields and up the draws, I kept my eye out for sage grouse. I was fortunate to find many prints in the snow. These traces made me smile despite the nagging seriousness of the situation. Just as I was gaining a rocky ramp leading to the top of the steppe, I spotted a sage grouse. The bird made a rapid escape, coming in and out of my view for a few moments as I moved on. As quickly as it showed itself, it disappeared.