“Some people think that to stop global warming, to save the planet, we need to blow this place up. I think that’s wrong. I think that’s completely wrong.”
Hello everyone. For those who don’t yet know what’s happening out here, let me provide a little background information. I’m sitting on the side of a mountain range in what we call Northern Nevada. This is Paiute territory. The land that I’m looking out on here is imminently threatened by an open pit lithium mine–a proposed mining project that would destroy everything you can see in front of us here.
This place is called Thacker Pass and some people think that to stop global warming to save the planet we need to blow this place up. I think that’s wrong. I think it’s completely wrong. Lithium Americas Corporation is the company that plans to build a mine here; a 1.3 billion dollar mine project that would sprawl across more than 17,000 acres of this landscape here.
This is part of the sagebrush step–for those who’ve never been to this part of the world, this is an ecosystem, or a natural community, where the sagebrush is the keystone species. You see these dark bushy areas out here–that’s old growth sagebrush. Sone of these sage brush are well over 100 years old.
Lithium Americas plans to bulldoze it all. They plan to blow up an open pit mine 2 square miles in size right in front of me here. They plan to build a sulfuric acid processing facility, which would function based on raw materials–sulfur that comes from oil refineries. This mine would burn more than 10,000 gallons of diesel fuel per day. This mine would destroy some of the best remaining Sage Grouse habitat left in the world–they’re 97 to 99 per cent gone, the sage grouse, they only have a few holdouts left.
Right up on top of this mountain behind me is one of the best Sage Grouse habitats left in the world–right on top of this hill less than half a mile from the boundary of the proposed open pit mine. Sage grouse aren’t going to stick around. Sage grouse don’t like loud noises, they don’t like human construction; they don’t like the pollution; they don’t like the light. They’re gone if that mine comes in here; they’re gone.
The pronghorn antelope move through here–this is a migration corridor for them. They’re gone. They’re not coming through here if this mine is built.
This is Golden Eagle habitat. There are nests all around this area in the cliffs. We’ve seen them up here; we’ve seen them circling directly over the site of the proposed mine. We saw a mating flight the other day: two golden eagles mating. They’re going to lay their eggs in the spring, and those chicks are going to hatch and what are they going to have? What is their future going to look like? Are they going to have future generations? Golden eagles don’t like human industrial activities. They’re not happy when people are around making loud noises; building. They leave. They abandon that territory, they abandon that habitat.
Habitat is life. Land is life. Not just for non-human animals; for us too, for us too. Land is life.
This water will be poisoned. They plan to pump 1.4 billion gallons of water per year from this valley over here. The water in that valley, the aquifer, is already being overused. The river over there is dry. That’s the Quinn River Valley. I’ve been here twice over the past three months and I’ve spent weeks and weeks here during that time. The Quinn River’s been completely dry that entire time. They’re going to drop the water table even further. Already on the other side of the valley here they drilled a test well and dropped the water table by 90 ft just from one single test well.
There’s a species of snail, it’s called the King’s River Pyrg snail. The King’s River is over in this valley on the other side [of the pass]. The King’s River Pyrg spring snail only lives in 14 natural artisanal springs that come out of the mountains in Thacker Pass and right around the corner here. 14–that’s its entire home in the world. There’s a good likelihood that when Lithium Americas digs this massive open pit and starts pumping out all the water that the groundwater levels will drop precipitously and these springs will dry out and this species will go extinct.
I’m sitting here right now and we’ve got snow melting. This isn’t one of the springs that flows year-round–this is just a seasonal drip here. Water is life out here in the desert; everywhere. Water is life.
Lithium Americas claims that this project is green because they want to dig up lithium to use to make electric cars. You know I looked it up the other day: the average electric car cost $55,600. The average per capita income around the world per person is around $4,000, which means that the average person in the world–if they didn’t eat or drink or pay rent or spend a single dime on medical care or anything else–could work for about 14 years and afford one electric car.
This is not a necessity for life. Electric cars are a luxury. They’re not important to our survival. Yes we live in a car culture; yes we live in a culture where our cities, our communities, everything has been constructed around cars. That needs to change. The answer is not to try and stop using fossil fuels by blowing up places like that. That’s b******. That is b******. That is greenwashing b******* from Lithium Americas and the b******s who support them.
You know, I start to get heated about this because I expect corporations to be destructive; I expect Earth rapers to rape the f****** earth, right? I expect that. I don’t like it but I expect it. What I don’t expect is for so-called environmentalists to support this b*******; to come out here and say, yes it’s okay to blow up this mountain side; it’s okay to drive the Kings River Pyrg extinct; it’s okay to kill to save Grouse habitat; it’s okay to cut off the Pronghorn migration routes because I want a goddamn electric car. That is b****** entitlement. That is a b****** mentality and that has no place in any movement that I care about. That has no place in any movement that says it cares about the living planet, that wants to stop the destruction of the world and if you believe that electric cars are a solution you need to learn a new f****** perspective.
We’re not going to save the world by destroying it.
We’re not going to save the world by destroying it. We’re going to save the world by fundamentally changing our relationship to it and that means we stop doing things like this. Because this is just like mountaintop removal coal mining. This is just like a gulf oil spill. This is just like the drilling in deep water. This is just like the Arctic drilling. This is just like the Keystone XL and the tar Sands. There is no difference between that and what’s happening here.
You have people with guns, people with bulldozers, people with governments and politicians and power and money. [Lithium Americas] raised 400 million dollars in one day a couple weeks ago to blow up this mountain side because all these people–thousands and thousands of people–said, you know what? I can make a buck off destroying this mountain. You know what? I can invest in that. I can put that in my pension plan. I can put that in my 401k and I’m going to make some money off of blowing up this mountain and getting into this electric car b******.
I have no patience for this anymore and none of us should have any patience for it. We are late in the game. We are living through the 6th mass extinction event. The climate of our planet is changing. This is the only known habitable planet in the universe, and life on it is being wiped out by the dominant industrial paradigm that we live in, by this industrial extractive economy that runs the world, by these powerful individuals who force these changes on society and then make trillions of dollars worth of advertising to convince us all that we actually want it, that we want an electric car.
But tell me, do you want an electric car if you ain’t got clean water to drink? Tell me, do you want an electric car if you ain’t got enough food on your plate because the ecology around you has been completely destroyed? Tell me, do you want an electric car if your entire community has been systematically degraded and your land has been stolen and now they want to come and blow up your mountain and take the lithium too? This is some b******* out here.
Today is day 19 of our occupation of this site. We’ve been communicating with the BLM and they have threatened us with fines for impacting the land on the site of an open pit mine, that they plan to destroy, that they permitted the corporation to destroy because the BLM is in the mining company’s pocket. The public process is broken. So we’re here for 19 days in the storms and 50 mile an hour winds. We got a foot of snow dumped on us. We’ve had equipment failures. We’ve had stuff break down. But we’re out here in the sun, in the cold, in single-digit temperatures, in the mud trying to do this work, trying to protect this place because some m****f******s are going to say that this s*** is green and get four hundred million dollars in one day to blow up this place. And meanwhile we got four people out here holding down this Camp trying to defend it. 4 people. 4 people, okay. That’s some b*******.
We are not going to save the planet from our couches by clicking like on this video right? We need to get out on the land and we need to stop them.
There is a war being waged on the natural world. There is a war being waged on your children, your grandchildren’s future. There is a war being waged on these springs in this mountainside right here, and we need Warriors to step up and be a part of this fight.
There’s no time to stand on the sidelines. There’s no time to say “You know what? I don’t really feel like it this week, that sounds uncomfortable.” Yes, it is uncomfortable–it is very uncomfortable at times. That’s not to say it’s all s*** out here. We’re having a good time now and then, too. We’re laughing, we’re being human, we’re not just out here on the grind 24/7.
But we’ve been working 12, 13, 14 hour days for 18 days straight to protect this place and like I said there are four of us here right now. So this is a call out to everyone who is watching that we need you all to step up. This place will not be defended successfully by four of us. It won’t work, it’s not going to happen. We’re not going to win. This place will be blown up unless we get overwhelming amounts of support, unless we get overwhelming resistance to this project.
This needs to happen, not just here, but at every proposed mine around the world–at every proposed oil drilling site, at every proposed new suburb, at every proposed expansion of a mall, at every existing mall and oil facility and destructive industrial extraction zone around the planet. At all the ones that already exist–not just the new ones. We need to shut down the ones that are already working and yes I understand how big of a task this is. Yes I understand how big of a call to action this is, but this is the work that needs to be done.
Will, my comrade down here, my friend Will–he says it best. He says: too often we ask “What can I do?” instead of asking “What needs to be done?” and the difference between those two questions is the biggest difference in the world. We need to start asking what needs to be done and then we need to start doing it.