The opponents view lithium extraction as the latest gold rush, and fear that the desperation to abate the climate crisis is driving a race into avoidable environmental degradation. The flawed assumption behind the “clean energy transition,” they argue, is that it can maintain levels of consumption that are inherently unsustainable.
“We want people to understand that ‘clean energy’ is not clean,” Wilbert said. “We’re here because our allegiance is to the land. It’s not to cars. It’s not to high-energy, modern lifestyle. It’s to this place.”
Proponents of the mine maintain its potential to address climate change and develop a rich domestic economy around a resource that is currently produced almost entirely outside the United States justify its environmental consequences and potential burden on local communities. Most mainstream environmental organizations and activists, while recognizing the significant environmental burdens from mining for elements required for the energy transition, see them as necessary to wean the world off of the fossil fuels that are driving global warming.