The Rhyolite Ridge lithium mine of the Ioneer corporation is undergoing its final review by the federal Bureau of Land Management. Having taught U.S. energy policy for 18 years at the University of Nevada, Reno, and climate-change mitigation and adaptation policy for five years, I am very enthusiastic about this lithium mine.
The site is located in Esmerelda County, on public land managed by the BLM, in the high desert about 200 miles southeast of Reno.
I have visited the mine site and the (“endangered native plants”) buckwheat site the so-called environmentalists are talking about in their attempts to stop the mine. They are on the same ridgeline, but the mine site was moved further away to ensure the mine did not hurt the buckwheat or change the environment around it.
This mine is very environmentally friendly. They will recycle the water they use and put the land back as it was before. The lithium they produce over 40 years will help save the buckwheat by powering 400,000-plus electric cars a year for 40 years.
As we all know, the environment is rapidly changing for the worse. If we don’t electrify a massive number of electric vehicles and clean up our power production, the greenhouse gases we continue to produce will ensure the destruction of the buckwheat through frequent droughts and wildfires. The proposed mine helps save the environment, and its licensing should be expedited to help save our country and enable the BLM to continue to do a great job preserving our country.
True environmentalists support this mine and the opening up of as many other lithium mine sites as soon as possible. I am an environmentalist and hike frequently in the mountains in the region, and I am a longtime member of the Sierra Club. As an environmentalist and as a retired professor with great knowledge of both energy policy and climate change policy, I urge the rapid licensing for environmental reasons.
There is another good reason to authorize the mine. Our energy security is threatened by our need to import 70% of the lithium we use from China. The lithium is mined in Chile and Australia and then shipped to China, which processes it and exports the final product to the U.S. The electric car industry will grind to a halt if China cuts off the lithium for political reasons—and it will affect any industry that uses lithium in batteries, such as those used in cell phones and other electronic devices.
We need to expedite lithium mining and domestic processing for both environmental and energy security reasons.
Details about the project, including the mine’s plan of operations, can be found on the BLM’s website.
John A. Scire, Ph.D., is a retired adjunct professor at the University of Nevada, Reno. He has a doctorate in international relations and an master’s degree in international business management, and has taught U.S. foreign policy, energy policy, climate change policy and other courses for over 26 years. Scire also has 27 years of military experience, including two years in the Marine Corps and 15 years in the Army Reserve.