Judge rules tribes not involved in fight over Nevada lithium mine they say is located near sacred massacre site

RENO, Nev. (AP) — A federal judge in Nevada has dealt another legal setback to a Native American tribe trying to block construction of one of its projects. The world’s largest lithium mine.

U.S. District Judge Miranda Du granted the government’s motion to dismiss their claim that the mine was being built illegally near holy land. Massacre of 1865 Along the Nevada-Oregon line.

But she said in last week’s order the three tribes suing the Bureau of Land Management should be given another chance to amend their complaints in an attempt to show the agency failed to adequately consult with them as required by the National Historic Preservation Act.

“Given that the Court has now twice agreed with the federal defendants (and) that the defendants have not changed their argument…the Court expresses doubt that the Defendants will be able to successfully modify it. But doubt does not mean futility,” Du said at 11 wrote on the 9th.

She also noted that part of their case is still pending appeal at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which said last month that as construction continues at Nevada Lithium’s mine about 230 miles (370 kilometers) away from Sackle Pass , the court is likely to hear oral arguments in February. Located northeast of Reno.

Du said that in earlier rulings, the tribes failed to prove that the planned site was where U.S. cavalry killed more than two dozen of their ancestors on Sept. 12, 1865.

Her new ruling is the latest in a series of rulings that have dismissed legal challenges to the mine on multiple fronts, including claims by environmentalists that the mine would breach provisions of the Mineral Resources Act. Mining Act 1872 and destroying prime habitat for sage grouse, trout and pronghorn antelope.

By all accounts, the agency violated multiple laws in its rush to approve the mine to meet surging demand for lithium used in making electric vehicle batteries.

Nevada Lithium officials said the $2.3 billion project remains on track to begin production in late 2026. They say it’s critical to executing President Joe Biden’s clean energy agenda, which aims to combat climate change by reducing reliance on fossil fuels.

“We have dedicated more than a decade of community engagement and hard work to get this project off the ground, and the court once again validates the efforts of Lithium Americas and the administration,” company neutral Tim Crowley told The stated in the email. Associated Press.

Du agreed with the government’s argument that the consultation was ongoing and therefore not yet ripe for a legal challenge.

The tribe believes it must be completed before construction can begin.

“If agencies are left to define when consultation occurs and when consultation is completed,” the tribe’s attorneys wrote, “then agencies will always be open to consultation—even if construction destroys the object of consultation—and agencies will never be sued. .” in a recent brief filed with the Ninth Circuit.

Will Falk, who represents the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony and Paiute Lake Crest Tribe, said they are still considering whether to amend the complaint before the Dec. 9 deadline set by DU or Focus on appeals.

“Even though this project is marketed as ‘green,’ it’s causing the same harm to First Nations as the mining industry,” Falk told The Associated Press. While climate change is a very real, existential threat, If agencies are allowed to rush through the permitting process in order to fast-track destructive mining projects like Thacker Pass, more of the natural world and more of Native American culture will be destroyed. “

The Paiutes called Thacker Pass “Pee hee mu’huh,” which means “Rotten Moon.” In their oral histories, they described how Paiute hunters returned home in 1865 to find “old men, women, and children” killed and “unburied and rotting.” “”

The Oregon-based Burns Paiute Tribe joined Nevada tribes in the call. They said the Bureau of Land Management’s negotiations with the tribes were “riddled with withholding information, distortions and outright lies.”

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