Ep. 53: Breaking News: Activists Occupy Site of Proposed Mine in Nevada, with Will Falk

Protect Thacker Pass
The beginning of the encampment. [Photo credit Max Wilbert]

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Special Breaking News Episode

In this special episode, I talk to Will Falk, who is at an occupation of public land in Nevada in order to stop a proposed lithium mine. The encampment was just announced on Monday, Jan. 18th, and I spoke with him by phone that day. The long and the short of the story is that the Bureau of Land Management just gave the green light to a company called Lithium Americas to establish a massive operation in Thacker Pass. The company has already built roads, drilled boreholes, constructed a weather station, and dug a 2-acre test pit. They plan to build large tailing ponds for toxic minewaste, drill new wells, build a sulfuric acid processing plant, import more than 170 semi-loads of sulfur per day, pump 850 million gallons of water annually, and dig an open pit of more than 2 square miles into the mountainside. Additionally, the project will burn some 26,000 gallons of diesel fuel per day. At risk from this habitat-destroying industrial activity are a number of animal and plant species including the threatened Greater Sage Grouse, the Lahontan Cutthroat Trout, a critically imperiled endemic snail species known as the Kings River Pyrg, old growth Big Sagebrush and Crosby’s Buckwheat, to name just a few. The stakes are high for all the creatures who live in and around Thacker Pass, and that’s why the activists have set up there.

Will Falk is a biophilic essayist, poet, and lawyer. He believes the intensifying destruction of the natural world is the most pressing issue confronting us today and he aims his writing at stopping this destruction. His work has been published by Earth Island Journal, the Dark Mountain Project, CounterPunch, Whole Terrain, and the San Diego Free Press, among others. He is also the author of the book, “How Dams Fall.” His most recent endeavor was a multimedia project called, “The Ohio River Speaks.”

Will and I talked about the geology of the area and its ancient natural history; the current landscape, including the observable effects of ranching; the details of what Lithium Americas plans to do in the area; the effects of human over-consumption on wildlife habitat; the sixth great extinction; how government policy instituted car culture; how dwindling resources will lead to social crisis; the fast-tracking of this project by the Trump administration; the bipartisan consensus on using public lands for industrial energy development; the endangerment of First Foods, a vital cultural resource; and what the campaign needs and how to follow and support them.

Protect Thacker Pass, Facebook page

Protect Thacker Pass website

Will Falk’s writing

Previous podcast episode with Will Falk: Ep. 18 “The Unsustainability of Civilization Itself”

This episode’s introduction music is “The Warm Green Mist of the Afternoon” by Dan Hanrahan. Find more of his music at bandcamp.

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