Off-campus SJSU users: To download campus access theses, please use the following link to log into our proxy server with your SJSU library user name and PIN.

Publication Date

Summer 2023

Degree Type

Thesis - Campus Access Only

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Environmental Studies


Dustin Mulvaney; Costanza Rampini; Kate Berry


Galvanized by the global production goals for electric vehicles and grid energy storage, U.S. policymakers and American auto manufacturers are supporting and investing in domestic lithium mining developments. The move to domestic lithium production, however, exposes public participation and Tribal consultation deficiencies in the energy transition and sustainability discourse. This study builds on the energy transition justice body of research and addresses the gap in literature regarding the participation complexities faced by Tribal and rural communities found adjacent to prospective U.S. lithium mine sites. Using a case study approach, the study aims to understand the viability of rural and Tribal participation in lithium mine site decisions, based on the permitted, prospective open-pit lithium mine at Thacker Pass, Nevada. The data for this study was collected primarily through semi-structured interviews and public comments from the environmental impact statement process. Findings show that Tribal and community members might achieve procedural parity with the addition of early and open communication; funding for independent science; and establishing equally valued, collaborative relationships between Tribes, communities, and companies to maximize local knowledge and minimize litigation. Future studies using community-based participatory research methods might help other community members and Tribes to achieve procedural parity in lithium and other metal and mineral mine site decision-making in the United States.