The Corner

Energy & Environment

Environmentalists Oppose Lithium Mining in Nevada

A view of the Rio Tinto borates mine in Boron, Calif., November 15, 2019. (Patrick T. Fallon/Reuters)

“End fossil fuels!” we are continually nagged by climate-change warriors. “Go electric!”

Great, but “going electric” requires good batteries to store the energy that is created by renewables and that run the electric vehicles that — we are told — will soon by the norm instead of the exception.

Great. But that requires, among other minerals, lithium. The good news is that Nevada has plenty. The bad news is that some enviros don’t want it mined. From the Inside Climate News story:

Plans to dig for the element known as “white gold” have encountered a surge of resistance from tribes, ranchers, residents and activists who say they believe the repercussions of the mine will outweigh the lithium’s contributions to the nation’s transition to less-polluting energy sources than fossil fuels.

The opponents view lithium extraction as the latest gold rush, and fear that the desperation to abate the climate crisis is driving a race into avoidable environmental degradation. The flawed assumption behind the “clean energy transition,” they argue, is that it can maintain levels of consumption that are inherently unsustainable.

“We want people to understand that ‘clean energy’ is not clean,” Wilbert said. “We’re here because our allegiance is to the land. It’s not to cars. It’s not to high-energy, modern lifestyle. It’s to this place.”

This story is germane to the “nature rights” movement against which I have been warning for years, but which keeps gaining traction because not enough people take it seriously. If nature has rights, these proposals allow anyone to sue to enforce them (like the Texas abortion law). That would surely include litigious efforts to prevent lithium mining here in the U.S. in the same manner as nature rights has been deployed by some municipalities to stop fracking, and in Florida, to stifle the human use of wetlands and waterways.

It could also be germane to the related “ecocide” movement — which has been supported by the pope! — that seeks to criminalize activities such as mining as a “crime against peace” equivalent to genocide. And indeed:

Some energy transition critics see these as harbingers of a new wave of green-energy driven ecocide—wanton, widespread destruction of the environment. Legal scholars and environmental activists are currently campaigning for the International Criminal Court in the Hague to take up ecocide as the fifth crime it would prosecute, alongside genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and crimes of aggression.

The real goal here is to force us into a draconian collapse in standards of living and mobility in the name of a neo-earth religion:

At the Thacker Pass camp, activists who call themselves “radical environmentalists” hope that addressing these challenges will press nations to choose to drastically reduce car and electricity use to meet their climate goals rather than develop mineral reserves to sustain lifestyles that require more energy.

Good grief. China also has plenty of lithium, and Xi Jinping isn’t about to let environmental extemists keep the country from exploiting those resources. Do we want to become even more dependent on that tyranny than we already are? Apparently some of us do.

So, we can’t mine and burn coal. We can’t drill and burn oil or natural gas. We need to end the use of internal-combustion engines. And now, we can’t mine lithium. Sometimes I think these anti-modernity throwbacks won’t be satisfied until we return to the caves.

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