Thacker Pass, or Peehee mu’huh in Paiute, is the site of a planned 28-square-mile open pit lithium mine in northern Nevada, near Winnemucca. The Canadian company Lithium Americas plans to destroy Thacker Pass to extract lithium for use in batteries, especially for electric car batteries. The company claims this is a “green” mine.
However, the project would release more than 152,000 tons of greenhouse gases per year, would use products of the oil and gas industry to refine the lithium, and threatens more than 1,000 cultural sites sacred to the Northern Paiute and Western Shoshone people of the Fort McDermitt tribe and other regional tribes.
The mine would also harm wildlife by directly killing animals, by destroying 5,694.8 acres of habitat, and by degrading thousands more acres through habitat fragmentation, increased traffic, and air, water, noise, and light pollution.
The great author, scholar, and activist Vine Deloria Jr. (Standing Rock Sioux), in an interview years ago, reminded us that “Life is not a predatory jungle, ‘red in tooth and claw,’ as Westerners like to pretend, but is better understood as a symphony of mutual respect in which each player has a specific part to play. We must be in our proper place and we must play our role at the proper moment,” Deloria said. “So far as humans are concerned, because we came last, we are the ‘younger brothers’ of the other life-forms, and therefore have to learn everything from these other creatures.”
This photo essay introduces you to just a few of the wildlife species who are present at Thacker Pass, who we must learn from—not destroy.
The opinions expressed above are not necessarily those of the Sierra Nevada Ally. Our newsroom remains entirely independent of our opinion page. Published opinions further public conversation to fulfill our civic responsibility to challenge authority, act independently of corporate or political influence.