Protect this sacred spring from dirty lithium mining


Supporters spoke up in this action

Delivery to BLM Director Tracy Stone-Manning, Arizona State Director Ray Suazo, Field Manager Amanda Dodson

Action ended on January 30, 2023

What Happens Next

Thank you to all who took action! We’re grateful for your support.

What Was At Stake

Mining for precious metals can scar the earth, contaminate vital habitats for wildlife, and harm Indigenous communities. Ha ‘Kamwe, a hot spring sacred to the Hualapai Tribe in Northern Arizona, is under attack by a lithium mining project by Hawkstone Mining that threatens their land, water, and heritage sites. The Hualapai and other tribes have used the spring for centuries for healing, prayer, and rites of passage, such as childbirth and coming-of-age ceremonies for young women. Tell the Bureau of Land Management to protect this sacred spring from extractive lithium drilling by conducting a proper Environmental Impact Statement!

Hawkstone Mining, an Australian company, has conducted exploratory drilling on federal BLM land just yards away from Ha ‘Kamwe. Hawkstone has been drilling on three sides of Hualapai land in Arizona’s Big Sandy River Valley and plans to create an open-pit lithium mine, putting the Ha ‘Kamwe at risk.

The BLM failed to follow federal law by allowing exploratory drilling without a required analysis of impacts on the Hualapai cultural, historic and spiritual resources. The BLM issued a draft environmental assessment but failed to properly analyze the impacts of drilling on cultural resources and threatened species in addition to failing to consult with the Tribe prior to issuing the assessment.

The Hualapai are not the only tribe threatened by mining interests. The majority of untapped reserves of critical minerals considered key for the clean energy transition — nickel, copper, cobalt and lithium — are all within 35 miles of Native American reservations.

While the demand for lithium and other critical minerals is expected to grow given their role in the transition to clean energy, legal rights and cultural resources for Indigenous tribes like the Hualapai must be respected. We do not need dirty mining to get to our clean energy future. We have the opportunity to do what the fossil fuel industry never did – set out from the beginning to better protect the communities and environments impacted by energy development.

Indigenous groups around the country and Earthjustice support a fast transition to clean energy and understand that critical minerals are needed, but they want legal rights and cultural resources to be protected and federal agencies to follow the law. Both Indigenous groups and Earthjustice believe that alternatives to mining must be explored, such as incentivizing and strengthening the circular economy to reuse and recycle existing minerals.

The Bureau of Land Management did a superficial environmental assessment for the drilling project. A thorough analysis of impacts on land, water, and cultural resources is needed for this project. Help protect this sacred spring by demanding the Bureau of Land Management conduct a full Environmental Impact Statement!

Ha ‘Kamwe is a hot spring sacred to the Hualapai Tribe in Northern Arizona. An Australian company is threatening the spring with a proposed lithium mining project.
Ha ‘Kamwe is a hot spring sacred to the Hualapai Tribe in Northern Arizona. An Australian company is threatening the spring with a proposed lithium mining project. (Ash Ponders for Earthjustice)

Your Actions Matter

Your messages make a difference, even if we have leaders who don't want to listen. Here's why.

You level the playing field.

Elected officials pay attention when they see that we are paying attention. Read more.

They may be hearing from industry lobbyists left and right, but hearing the stories of their constituents — that’s your power.

Our legislators serve at the pleasure of the people who gave them their job — you.

Make sure your elected officials know whose community and whose values they represent. When you contact your elected official, you’re putting a face and a name on an issue.

Whether or not you voted for them, they work for you, for the duration of their term.

Make sure your elected officials know whose community and whose values they represent. (Find your local, state, and federal elected officials.)

Your action is with us in court.

If a federal agency finalizes a harmful action, the record of public comments provides a basis for bringing them into court. Read more.

Throughout each of the public comment periods we alert you to, Earthjustice’s attorneys are researching and writing in-depth, technical comments to submit — detailing how the regulation could and should be stronger to protect the environment, our communities, and our planet.

We need you to join us — your specific experiences, knowledge, and voice are crucial to add to the Administrative Record through the comment periods.

Lawsuits we file that challenge weak or harmful federal regulations rely on what was submitted during the comment period. The court can only look at documents that are in the Administrative Record — including the public comments — to decide if the agency did something improper.

Your actions aid our litigation. Taking action and submitting comments during a comment period is substantively important.

It’s the law.

Federal agencies must pause what they’re doing and ask for — and consider — your comment. Read more.

Many of us may have never heard of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), but laws like these require our government to ask the public to weigh in before agencies adopt or change regulations.

Regulations essentially describe how federal agencies will carry out laws — including decisions that could undermine science, or weaken safeguards on public health.

Public comments are collected at various points throughout the federal government’s rulemaking process, including when a regulation is proposed and finalized. (Learn about the rulemaking process.) These comments become part of the official, legal public record — the “Administrative Record.”

When the public responds with a huge outpouring of support for environmental protections, these individual messages collectively undercut politicians' attempts to claim otherwise.

What this means is each of us can take a role in shaping the rules our government creates — and ensuring those rules are fair and effective.