As an organization that works with communities to protect ecosystems and culture from the harmful effects of mining, we would like to stress just how much of climate justice (and possibilities for deep injustice) is connected to how we treat extraction during our attempt to address climate change. We must think about mining reform if we want to ensure that our work to combat anthropogenic climate change does not unintentionally cause species to go extinct, destroy cultural resources and disregard Tribal sovereignty, use exorbitant amounts of our precious and limited groundwater, create systematic water inequity in rural areas, or unnecessarily destroy the desert ecosystems that are pivotal in our state’s natural defense against climate change itself. The materials needed for our transition away from fossil fuels come from somewhere, and very often this somewhere is within Nevada…and to avoid stark inequities in burden-carrying and the perpetuation of deep environmental injustice, we need to be mindful of who is paying the price for our new technologies. As Dmitry Berezhkov, a member of the Aborigen Forum network, warns and poignantly articulates, “We don’t want the next industrial revolution of electric cars and clean energy developed for the price of indigenous peoples’ rights and traditional lands.” Here in Nevada, where a lot of our materials for renewable energy technologies could be scraped from the earth, we have a deep need to prioritize, at the state level, care for these very communities and places through policies that make the extractive side of our transition most just. We cannot reiterate enough that to ensure we perpetuate justice in our state’s climate strategies, great attention and focus must be placed now on mining. Climate strategy that excludes care towards the sourcing of the materials needed for these renewable energy technologies, and the places and peoples where this extraction occurs, cannot and will not ever be just. Therefore, we would like to point out the crucial sentiment of accompanying any policies to reduce our carbon emissions as a state with mining reform and mechanisms for environmental-social accountability from the mining industry. An attempt to disregard that component will inevitably lead to a climate strategy that harms many people and places in Nevada (and globally) in order to reduce our emissions, and will ultimately fail. True climate justice must incorporate an understanding of the realities of mining and measures so that peoples and places do not become a footnote to our climate strategy.
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