Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, July 17, 2023


Mason Voehl, Amargosa Conservancy, (702) 900-7589,
Patrick Donnelly, Center for Biological Diversity, (702) 483-0449,

Court Order Sought to Block Drilling at Nevada’s Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge

LAS VEGAS, Nev.— Conservation advocates asked a federal judge today to prevent the launch of a lithium exploration project on the border of Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge in southern Nevada. The motion for a preliminary injunction comes after the groups sued the U.S. Bureau of Land Management earlier this month for approving the project.

Although the agency said in media reports last week that it would require an environmental review of the project, it has not made that official. As a result, the Center for Biological Diversity and local non-profit Amargosa Conservancy filed the motion for a preliminary injunction in U.S. District Court in Las Vegas.

“Rover’s drilling project risks everything we and our community hold dear at Ash Meadows,” said Mason Voehl, executive director of the Amargosa Conservancy. “We have no choice but to seek this urgent legal remedy to halt the drill rigs before the unthinkable happens.”

Canadian mining company Rover Metals plans to begin drilling at its Let’s Go Lithium Project within a couple of weeks, risking irreparable harm to the abundant desert springs at Ash Meadows and threatening the numerous species of wildlife they support.

Fourth-generation Amargosa Basin resident Susan Sorrells, who owns the nearby small community of Shoshone Village, also joined the suit.

Sorrells’s great grandfather, Ralph “Dad” Fairbanks, owned a ranch at Ash Meadows in the early 20th century. Fairbanks Spring, which provides habitat for endangered species in the refuge and is threatened by Rover’s drilling, bears his name.

Sorrells has oriented her businesses in Shoshone around ecotourism and she single-handedly rescued the endangered Shoshone pupfish from extinction. She joined the lawsuit to block Rover’s drilling project to protect her businesses and home.

“I’ve been working to sustain the future of my community on the Amargosa River for my entire life,” said Sorrells. “The proposed lithium project at Ash Meadows places everything I’ve worked for at risk, from my businesses to the endangered plants and animals we hold dear. I’m pleased to join this lawsuit to defend my community and the water we need to survive.”

Today’s motion includes expert testimony from a hydrologist and a fish biologist detailing the likelihood of irreparable harm to Ash Meadows and for the endangered species that live in the area if Rover is permitted to begin drilling.

The lawsuit says the BLM failed to conduct any environmental analysis or consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service about potential harms to endangered species.

“The science is clear. Rover’s project threatens to destroy endangered species habitat in a protected wildlife refuge,” said Patrick Donnelly, Great Basin director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Instead of requiring environmental analysis of the inevitable harms this project will cause, federal officials rubber-stamped a Canadian mining company trashing our beloved national wildlife refuge. We won’t let them get away with it.”

RSAsh Meadows National Wildlife Refuge_Patrick Donnelly_Center-scr
Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge. Credit: Patrick Donnelly/Center for Biological Diversity Image is available for media use.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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