‘Green Colonialism’: Biden Admin Clashes With Native American Activists Over Lithium Mine

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Will Kessler Contributor
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Activists from the Fort McDermitt Indian Reservation are speaking out against a lithium mine that is part of President Joe Biden’s clean energy plan, according to The Associated Press.

A $2.2 billion mining project, which will be one of the largest lithium mines in the world, is being constructed by Lithium Americas and supported by the Biden administration as part of the White House’s effort to shift away from fossil fuels, according to the AP. Activists criticize the project, calling it “green colonialism,” saying that the project will have negative environmental consequences for the surrounding area and not deliver on environmental promises. (RELATED: Biden Admin Moves To Fund Foreign Mining Projects After Blocking Domestic Mines: REPORT)

“Lithium mines and this whole push for renewable energy — the agenda of the Green New Deal — is what I like to call green colonialism,” said Daranda Hinkey, a member of the Fort McDermitt Paiute and Shoshone Tribe, according to the AP. “It’s going to directly affect my people, my culture, my religion, my tradition.”

Lithium is a key component used in electric vehicle batteries, which the Biden administration has sought to promote as part of its push for half of all new cars to be electric by 2030.

“Despite Lithium Nevada’s characterization of the mine as green, the company estimates in the [Environmental Impact Statement] that it will produce 152,703 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions every year,” the activist group responsible for the protests, the People of Red Mountain, said on its website. “The water, air, land, wildlife, plants, and everything in between will all pay the ultimate price for lithium powered batteries for electric vehicles.”

Department of the Interior Secretary Deb Haaland has previously commented on the project, saying that the DOI is in favor of the mine because it feeds “the need for our clean energy economy to move forward is definitely important,” according to the AP.

Lithium Americas, a Canadian mining company in charge of the project, has received criticism in the past from GOP lawmakers for having links to the Chinese Communist Party. The Chinese company Gangfeng was reported to own more than 10% of Lithium Americas, making it the largest shareholder, and has since split into two separate entities to avoid the criticism, separating its Latin American and North American operations, according to the Washington Free Beacon.

Chinese companies also dominate the electric vehicle supply chain, with China producing 79% of all lithium-ion batteries sold in 2021. China is responsible for the refining of 90% of rare earth metals, according to a 2022 report from the International Energy Agency.

The People of Red Mountain, Lithium Americas and the Department of the Interior did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

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