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Opposition from friends, not foes, is creating potential roadblocks to President Joe Biden’s green energy agenda on federal lands in the blue-leaning, Western swing state of Nevada.

Two lithium mines and a geothermal power plant in the works in the biggest U.S. gold-mining state are under attack from conservationists, tribes and others who otherwise generally support Biden’s efforts to expedite the transition from fossil fuels to renewables.

The conflicts put a spotlight on an emerging reality as the Biden administration tries to meet its goal of having the U.S. power grid run on clean energy by 2035.

Renewable or not, the actual mining of the resources faces many of the same regulatory and environmental hurdles the government has encountered for decades when digging for coal or drilling for oil.

Whether it’s tapping hot underground water to generate electricity with steam-powered turbines or extracting lithium to make electric car batteries, the operations still must comply with laws designed to protect wildlife habitat, cultural and historical values, and guard against pollution or other degradation of federal lands.

During a recent failed attempt to overturn a Nevada water permit for a mine near the Oregon line above the biggest known lithium deposit in the nation, opponents raised some of the same concerns leveled four decades ago about some of the largest gold mines in the world.


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