Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Federal Judge Denies Motion to Halt All Disturbances at the Thacker Pass Lithium Mine

On August 27, 2021, U.S. District Court of Nevada Judge Miranda Du heard arguments on a motion for a Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction to prevent any further disturbance to the proposed Thacker Pass lithium mine site until the entire case can be heard on its merits.

Plaintiffs argued that any further digging or drilling on the site will cause irreparable harm. The mine developer, Lithium Nevada, contends it cannot complete the site’s cultural assessment without doing some digging on roughly 1/10th of an acre of the 12,000-acre site.

Today, in a written decision, Judge Du denied the motion:

“Before the Court is the Tribes’ motion for a preliminary injunction requiring BLM to engage in further consultation under the NHPA (National Historic Preservation Act) with the Tribes before BLM and Lithium Nevada may proceed with an archeological survey of the Project area known as the Historic Properties Treatment Plan (“HPTP”). 

“Environmental Plaintiffs do not oppose, and indeed encourage the Court to grant the Motion. Rancher Plaintiffs did not file a response to the Motion. Defendants and Lithium Nevada oppose the Motion. The Court held a hearing on the Motion on August 27, 2021. 

“Primarily because the Tribes have not shown they are likely to prevail on their claim that BLM’s decision not to consult them on the Project was unreasonable or made in bad faith, have not presented sufficiently specific evidence of irreparable harm that will likely occur if the HPTP proceeds, and as further explained below, the Court will deny the Motion. However, this order does not resolve the merits of the Tribes’ claims. Moreover, in considering the Tribes’ equitable relief request, the Court is not unpersuaded by the Tribes’ broader equitable and historical arguments, but the Court must operate within the framework of the applicable laws and regulations.”

See the full ruling below: