A pirate does three things with his treasure: He seeks more of it, he buries it for safe-keeping, and he fights off scallywags who are trying to steal it from him.

 Interestingly, these three jobs of a pirate describe events that happened last week. So, today I am going to tell you where America’s new treasure can be found, who is safe-guarding Nebraska’s treasure, and who is trying to steal your treasure and how you can prevent it.

The treasure of today

On Jan. 24, 1848 James W. Marshall discovered gold at Sutter’s Mill along the American River near Coloma, California.  What followed was the California Gold Rush of 1849. While gold is still considered a precious metal and is still highly valued, the new gold of the 21st Century is lithium. Lithium is used to make batteries and as governments around the world continue to press for more green energy, the value of lithium continues to rise.

The old adage of “Go West, young man” has suddenly become true in America once again. Australia, Chile, and China have historically been the world’s top three leading producers of lithium, but all that is about to change because of the American West.  Geologists have discovered an ancient super-volcano along the Nevada-Oregon border which they now believe contains the world’s largest single deposit of lithium.  Researchers from Lithium Americas Corporation, GNS Science, and Oregon State University published their findings on Aug. 31 in the Journal for Science Advances.  

That report found that the McDermitt Caldera, measuring 28 miles long and 22 miles wide, contains some 20 to 40 million metric tons of lithium worth an estimated $1.5 trillion. When mining begins in 2026, the USA will suddenly become the world’s leading producer of lithium.

Guarding Nebraska’s treasure

Although states don’t bury their treasure, the person safe-guarding it matters. Nebraska now has a new State Treasurer. Gov. Jim Pillen announced last Thursday that he has appointed the state senator representing Legislative District 41, Tom Briese of Albion, as Nebraska’s new State Treasurer.  

Sen. Briese is an excellent pick for this job. During his tenure in the Nebraska State Legislature, Sen. Briese proved himself to be a champion for property tax relief and tax policy reform. Appointing a strong fiscal conservative to this position was a good move by Gov. Pillen; however, Sen. Briese’s boots will be hard to fill in the Legislature.

Sen. Briese has been the chair of the Legislature’s Executive Board and has also held a seat on the Revenue Committee. The executive board supervises the Legislature and members of the Executive Board form the reference committee that decides which bills are assigned to which committees. 

Consequently, presiding over the Executive Board is viewed as a prestigious and coveted position by many in the Legislature. The current vice chair, Sen. Raymond Aguilar of Grand Island, will take over operations of the Executive Board during the interim, but a replacement for Sen. Briese and a new chair will have to be voted on during the opening days of the legislative session next year.

 Sen. Briese will also have to be replaced on the revenue committee. Finally, Gov. Pillen will have to appoint a new state senator to represent the people of Legislative District 41.

Stealing your treasure

Finally, the scallywags of the 21st Century are today’s online scammers. Online scammers try to trick innocent and unsuspecting people into giving them money.

 Last week Nebraska’s Attorney General, Mike Hilgers, filed a consumer protection lawsuit against Nfluence and Kenneth Jason McCants of Memphis for scamming the public through fraudulent online ticket sales. More than 50 people paid $1,000 each for the promise of two luxury suite tickets, access to a Husker and social media validation by a former player as a fundraiser for charity, except that the monies raised never went to charity.

To guard against this kind of online theft, Nebraska’s Attorney General is asking the public to do three things when buying tickets online. 

First, Hilgers is advising Nebraskans to only buy tickets from reputable and verifiable online retailers and to avoid unsolicited offers to buy or sell tickets.

Second, Hilgers is advising against the use of social media or third-party apps for paying for tickets; instead, Hilgers is advising members of the public to use a credit card when making these kinds of purchases. 

Third, Hilgers says to follow your instincts. If an offer seems too good to be true, it probably is. If you do fall prey to an online scammer, please report it to the attorney general.

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