Lithium Americas’ Thacker Pass mine in Nevada has come under fire as both environmental welfare groups and Native American tribes have pointed out how those behind the initiative have actually violated a number of legal provisions.
Western Mining Action Project director Roger Flynn and various concerned parties are currently presenting their case to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.
Along with several legal violations, Flynn also pointed out how several thousand acres of public land are being denuded of the desert sagebrush, thus threatening the natural habitat of a number of endangered species.
Flynn’s peers also called the court’s attention towards how the practice of open pit mining in such a critical area would be akin to spitting in the face of a number of environmental protection laws. Aside from destroying natural habitats, the mine also poses dangers to human health as any effluvium from the extraction process could contaminate groundwater sources within the vicinity.
Sacrilege on Sacred Ground
For their part, Native American communities residing in the area consider Thacker Pass sacred ground and is essentially protected by laws regarding resources of both historic and cultural importance.
According to leaders of the Paiute and Western Shoshone tribes, members of the US Cavalry massacred a significant number of their people back in 1865.
Could the Benefits Outweigh the Disadvantages?
Lithium Americas subsidiary Lithium Nevada claims to have spent over $8.7 million to secure permits and perform an environmental analysis.
Legal counsel for the company informed the court that, aside from no expense spared, no shortcuts were taken to secure approvals. They also reminded the court that the facility stands to play a critical role in the government’s fight on climate change.
Nevada’s Bureau of Land Management, which approved the development of the mine, added that the facility is highly unlikely to cause serious environmental harm to the area.