For Immediate Release, January 15, 2021
Kelly Fuller, Western Watersheds Project, (928) 322-8449,
Reno, Nev.― Today the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) approved the Thacker Pass lithium mine in northwestern Nevada. The mine will strip-mine thousands of acres of important habitat for greater sage-grouse and other wildlife. It could also push a wildlife species that has not been found anywhere else on Earth to extinction.
“Renewable energy and electric cars aren’t green if they destroy important habitat and drive wildlife extinct,” said Kelly Fuller, Energy and Mining Campaign Director for Western Watersheds Project. “The only thing that’s actually green about the Thacker Pass mine is the color of the money the project would make for its wealthy investors.”
Thacker Pass is critically important to wildlife because it connects the Double H Mountains to the Montana Mountains, and provides lower-elevation habitat that greater sage-grouse and other wildlife need to survive the winter. It contains thousands of acres of priority habitat management area (PHMA), the most important type of greater sage-grouse habitat, yet BLM has exempted the mine from many legally required sage-grouse protections. The mine is sited in the danger zone for sage-grouse leks in the Montana Mountains, one of the most important sage-grouse strongholds in Nevada. Local springs are the only place in the world where the Kings River pyrg, a rare type of springsnail, are known to live. The mine could also cut off a pronghorn migration corridor.
“The biodiversity crisis is every bit as dire as the climate crisis, and sacrificing biodiversity in the name of climate change makes no scientific or moral sense,” said Fuller. “Over the last 50 years, Earth has lost nearly two thirds of its wildlife. Habitat loss is the major cause. Humans can’t keep destroying important wildlife habitat and still avoid ecosystem collapse.”
Wildlife at risk from the Thacker Pass mine include greater sage-grouse and other birds that rely on sagebrush, golden eagles and other raptors, Lahontan cutthroat trout, pronghorn antelope, bighorn sheep, pygmy rabbits, and the Kings River pyrg.
Site photo available upon request.
Western Watersheds Project protects and restores western watersheds and wildlife through education, public policy initiatives, and legal advocacy.