Alex Norbrook ’26



Project Title

Mining for the Climate

Certificate(s): Environmental Studies

The net-zero transition will be fueled by mineral extraction. The Biden administration and climate policy experts aim to expand domestic extraction of critical minerals to rapidly deploy electric vehicles and combat transportation emissions. Mining companies are moving forward with new projects in states like Nevada, North Carolina and California. Because narratives around climate mitigation are usually crafted and disseminated at a distance from those directly affected by mining activity, I wanted to examine how they are deployed and experienced on the ground. I aimed to address questions including, how do mining companies use net-zero narratives to justify their projects, and how do residents and activists counter them while opening alternate paths to a climate-safe future? I conducted 10 days of fieldwork at two proposed mine locations to contribute to a podcast on critical mineral narratives. I learned to conduct in-depth interviews and deploy audio equipment and then worked to craft a five-part audio series on one mine in North Carolina. I used podcast editing software to draft the third episode, which focuses on the logistics of the mine. I now have a clearer understanding of why an environmental justice approach is necessary for a successful energy transition.

Internship Year


Project Category

Environment and Society and Urban Sustainability


Blue Lab, Effron Center for the Study of America, Princeton University - Pasadena, California; Thacker Pass, Nevada; Princeton, New Jersey; Gaston County, North Carolina


Allison Carruth, Professor of American Studies and the High Meadows Environmental Institute, Princeton University; Nate Otjen, Postdoctoral Research Associate, High Meadows Environmental Institute, Princeton University; Juan Manuel Rubio, UC President’s and Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Global Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara