Biden administration says judge exceeded authority in decision related to lithium mine

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This June 1, 2019, file photo, provided by the Center for Biological Diversity shows Tiehm’s buckwheat blooming at Rhyolite Ridge in the Silver Peak Range of Western Nevada.(Patrick Donnelly/Center for Biological Diversity via AP, File)

RENO — The Biden administration says a U.S. judge exceeded his authority when he gave federal wildlife officials a May 21 deadline to decide whether to formally propose endangered species protections for a rare desert wildflower in Nevada.

The plant is at the center of a fight over a proposed billion-dollar lithium mine. The site for the mine is a place called Rhyolite Ridge, which lies north of the Silver Peak lithium mine and west of Tonopah.

Lawyers for the Interior Department filed an emergency request last week asking a federal judge to reconsider his order regarding the fate of the only Tiehm’s buckwheat plants known to exist in the world.

Australia’s Ioneer Ltd., the company behind the mine proposal, caused a ruckus last year when it appeared to mislead investors about how soon it might start building a lithium mine in Nevada.

A government official told The Associated Press that U.S. land managers don’t anticipate a decision on the fate of the project until January 2022.

Last month, the judge said a listing decision set the May 21 deadline.

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