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Local News

Lithium Mine Threatens Extinction For Nevada’s Tiehm’s Buckwheat

Credit: iStock

Anzhe Zhang

While electric vehicles are often seen as a positive, carbon-free alternative for drivers, one of the great ironies of “going green” is the toll that manufacturing electric vehicles takes on the very environment they aim to preserve.

That’s the story behind Tiehm’s buckwheat, a Nevada wildflower that’s in danger of going extinct due to it only growing in the spot where an Australian mining company is planning to open a lithium mine to procure battery materials for electric vehicles.

The buckwheat’s main habitat is about 910 acres, according to the Fish and Wildlife Service, where an estimated 16,000 of the plants remain.

“We find that a threatened species status is not appropriate because the threats are severe and imminent, and Tiehm’s buckwheat is in danger of extinction now, as opposed to likely to become endangered in the future,” the Fish and Wildlife Service concluded.

The planned mine puts the nail to the coffin for Tiehm’s buckwheat, which was already threatened by rodent infestations, climate change, and other construction projects.

Ioneer, the Australia-based mining company behind the project, has offered vague promises to protect the plant while offering no public solution in the process and represents another hiccup in the Biden Administration’s green energy initiatives.

“Lithium is an important part of our renewable energy transition, but it can’t come at the cost of extinction,” Patrick Donnelly from the Center for Biological Diversity, which sued to keep the plant from being built, said.