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News

KUNR Today: Nevada rancher sues to block lithium mine, Indigenous count up 160% in 2020 census

An image of a wide vista of sagebrush
Courtesy
/
Nevada Division of Environmental Protection
The proposed area for the Thacker Pass lithium mine. Public comment on the project is open through Nov. 18.

Here are the local news headlines for the morning of Monday, Nov. 1, 2021.

Nevada rancher cites `shroud of secrecy' at lithium mine
By The Associated Press

A Nevada rancher suing to block construction of the largest lithium mine in the U.S. says the government’s environmental assessment of the project relies on a baseline set by a consultant for the mining company with a conflict of interest. Bartell Ranch says the assessment trivializes potential harm to water resources and wildlife near the Oregon line. It wants a federal judge to order the Bureau of Land Management to provide documents and internal communications with all third-party consultants the agency used on the project. It's lawyers say the agency's refusal to turn over documents has created a “shroud of secrecy” over the basis for the mine’s approval.

Indigenous count up 160% in 2020 census
By Maggie Mullen, Mountain West News Bureau

The number of Indigenous people in the U.S. increased by 160% since 2010, according to data from the 2020 census. It also found that Montana and New Mexico had the largest percentage of people identifying as Indigenous.

Rachel Marks is with the racial statistics branch of the census. She said the agency asked recognized tribes how their members would want to identify themselves in the census.

" 'What are some terms that they might write in to identify with their specific tribe?’ so that we could ensure that those responses that will be provided during the 2020 census, that we coded them with the correct tribe," Marks said.

As a result, this latest census included something it never had before. Next to the checkbox for reporting American Indian and Alaska Native identities, it included several different examples, such as Navajo Nation and Blackfeet Tribe.

It also expanded the write-in area next to the question from 30 characters to 200. Census officials say these new methodologies account for the large increase.

'Prison gerrymandering' endures in Nevada, despite law
By The Associated Press

Two years after banning prison gerrymandering, Nevada will still count almost half of its prison population in districts where they're incarcerated, rather than at their previous addresses. Prison officials say difficulties verifying addresses prevented them from providing addresses needed to reallocate thousands of inmates to communities they lived in pre-incarceration. The data gap suggests efforts to end a practice that detractors say distorts political maps and voting power won't be realized, leaving prison town populations inflated at the expense of urban minority communities. Nevada is one of 11 states adjusting how it counts incarcerated people in redistricting this year.

Western towns considering limits on short-term rentals
By Nate Hegyi, Mountain West News Bureau

Some of the West’s most popular ski towns are voting this week on whether to crack down on short-term vacation rentals.

Voters in Telluride, Colorado are looking at capping the number of short-term rentals in town and doubling licensing fees. In Crested Butte, Colorado there’s a proposal to raise taxes on vacation rentals.

The moves follow a regional crackdown. Last year, Taos, New Mexico voted to limit the number of short-term rentals there. Earlier this month officials in a county in southwest Utah also limited vacation rentals for some areas.

The homes can be great for tourists, but they also contribute to the West’s housing crisis.

“I think that a lot of these regulations can help to address some of these challenges somewhat, but they’re not going to take care of everything,” said Megan Lawson with the nonprofit Headwaters Economics.

Lawson said there are other factors at play, including a lack of workforce housing.

Recent grant program for children with disabilities no longer accepting applications
By Lucia Starbuck

The Transforming Opportunities for Toddlers and Students Program, known as TOTS, will provide $5,000 each to eligible children for items such as school tuition, assistive technology and pandemic recovery.

The program was launched last week and received more than 2,000 applications in three days. The initial money can fund 1,000 applicants. The state is looking into ways to secure additional funding.

Nevada dominates UNLV, keeps Fremont Cannon blue
By Noah Glick

The Fremont Cannon remains blue after Nevada football beat UNLV Friday, 51-20. Quarterback Carson Strong threw for 417 yards and four touchdowns, and the Wolf Pack defense also scored a pair of touchdowns.

The win brings Nevada to 6-2 on the season, and it makes Nevada bowl-eligible for the fourth straight year.

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