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Conservation Groups Ask Ninth Circuit to Block Destruction at Thacker Pass

For Immediate Release: February 27, 2023

Media Contacts: 

Greta Anderson, Western Watersheds Project (520)623-1878; greta@westernwatersheds.org

John Hadder, Great Basin Resource Watch (775)348-1986; john@gbrw.org

Kevin Emmerich, Basin and Range Watch (775) 764 -1080; emailbasinandrange@gmail.com

Katie Fite, WildLands Defense (208) 871-5738; katie@wildlandsdefense.org

RENO, Nev. – Environmental justice and conservation groups are continuing to fight the destructive Thacker Pass Lithium Mine, and today filed an emergency motion for an injunction pending appeal with the Ninth Circuit Court, asking the court to immediately intervene to block mine operations pending their appeal. Today’s filing requests that the court block any ground disturbance or construction until arguments can be heard upon appeal.

Earlier this month, environmental justice and conservation groups prevailed in Nevada District Court when the court ruled that the Bureau of Land Management broke the law in approving the mine, but the judge chose not to block development of the enormous open pit mine despite the unlawful decision. Last week, the same judge denied the environmental organizations’ request for emergency relief and allowed the mine to proceed, despite recognizing that the mining corporation would “unfortunately soon begin ripping out sagebrush that will not grow back for a very long time.”

“It isn’t just that the sagebrush won’t recover, but the species like sage-grouse that depend on that habitat will also never regain lost ground,” said Greta Anderson of Western Watersheds Project. “The cultural sites of Peehee Mu’huh will be forever destroyed, and the groundwater will be forever degraded. We’re asking the Ninth Circuit to see the permanent impact of the mine operations that are slated to occur before the agency even comes into compliance with federal law.”

“This monstrous mine will permanently obliterate sagebrush winter habitat and a movement corridor that is at the heart of sage-grouse, mule deer and pronghorn survival in the high desert environment of the Montana Mountains. Sage-grouse will soon begin their elaborate mating displays. The birds will be driven off lek display grounds and nesting sites by the hellish noise and construction disturbance of an open pit mine. BLM’s approval of Thacker Pass mining exposes how hollow and false its claims of sage-grouse conservation really are” said Katie Fite, Wildlands Defense Public Lands Director“

“The Thacker Pass Lithium Mine is one of the more significant examples of how extractive industries push to continue to remove significant resources in the Great Basin Desert.” Said Kevin Emmerich, Co-founder of Basin and Range Watch. ”If built, the mine will have long-lasting impacts to the old growth sagebrush ecosystem, cultural values, hydrology and visual quality in the Montana Mountains. The mine is being pushed in the false name of green”.

“The federal permitting process for the proposed Thacker Pass mine took just under a year, unlike the typical timeline of 3-5 years for a mine of this scale and complexity.  As a result the environmental impact statement is inadequate and needs to be done correctly and legally,” said John Hadder, Director of Great Basin Resource Watch. “It is not good for Nevadans nor for tackling climate change to permit a mine in the manner as done at Thacker Pass.  Running over community concerns and ignoring significant damage to the  environment is how we got into the climate situation that we are in now.”

Today’s court action seeks to stop site preparation activities at Thacker Pass which may begin imminently according to the company.

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