Tribal activists oppose Nevada mine key to Biden’s clean energy agenda as ‘green colonialism’

Daranda Hinkey, a Fort McDermitt Paiute and Shoshone tribe member, holds a large hand-painted sign that says "No Lithium No mine" at her home on April 24 on the Fort McDermitt Indian Reservation, near McDermitt. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

OROVADA, Nevada — Just 45 miles (72 kilometers) from the Fort McDermitt Indian Reservation where Daranda Hinkey and her family corral horses and cows, a centerpiece of President Joe Biden’s clean energy plan is taking shape: construction of one of the largest lithium mines in the world.

As heavy trucks dig up the earth in this remote, windswept region of Nevada to extract the silvery-white metal used in electric-vehicle batteries, the $2.2 billion project is fueling a backlash. “No Lithium. No mine!” proclaims a large hand-painted sign in Hinkey’s front yard.


The Biden administration says the project will help mitigate climate change by speeding the shift away from fossil fuels. But Hinkey and other opponents say it is not worth the costs to the local environment and people.

Similar disputes are taking place around the world as governments and companies advancing renewable energy find themselves battling communities opposed to projects that threaten wildlife, groundwater and air quality.

Hinkey, 25, is a member of the Fort McDermitt Paiute and Shoshone Tribe and a leader of a group known as People of Red Mountain — named after the scarlet peak that overlooks her house. The group says that in addition to environmental impacts, the Thacker Pass mine would desecrate a site where the U.S. Cavalry massacred their ancestors after the Civil War.

“Lithium mines and this whole push for renewable energy — the agenda of the Green New Deal — is what I like to call green colonialism,” Hinkey said. “It’s going to directly affect my people, my culture, my religion, my tradition, my children and children after that.”

Protests near the mining site have flared up for more than two years, and the project has sparked legal challenges, including an appeal that a federal court will hear this month.

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