|Why we opposed this wind farm|
|Written by Wild Nevada|
|Monday, 07 May 2012 16:47|
A recent Las Vegas Review Journal editorial went after “environmentalists” for suing a California energy company over a proposed $225 million wind energy project west of Ely in Nevada. The groups in question were friends of ours – the Western Watershed Project and the Center for Biological Diversity – and their lawsuit resulted because they felt the environmental reviews of the project didn’t adequately address the impacts on bats and sage-grouse.
We didn’t think so either. We noted a while back that this project was not “smart from the start” for a variety of reasons.
The editorial went on to declare that this wasn’t an isolated case; the “environmental lobby” has been making trouble for renewable energy projects all across the country. “… it’s about crippling economic development by hamstringing this country’s energy sector,” the editorial said.
While we were not a party to the lawsuit, we did, however, feel this might be an opportunity to explain to the public – and the editorial writers at Nevada’s largest newspaper – why groups like ours carefully examine the development of renewable energy projects on public lands. So here’s the letter our Executive Director Jeneane Harter wrote and got published in the paper:
To the editor:
Your recent editorial, "Energy foes," misleads readers by claiming that conservation organizations are challenging renewable energy projects in court because our "true green agenda" is to cripple economic development.
The truth is that the Nevada Wilderness Project and other conservation groups have publicly supported many renewable energy projects for the simple reason that utility-scale wind, solar and geothermal projects will reduce our country's emission of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.
But when a project such as the 7,500-acre Spring Valley Wind Farm doesn't perform adequate environmental reviews, we will do what we can to make sure it complies with National Environmental Policy Act requirements. That's why our group worked with and endorsed the Crescent Dunes solar project north of Tonopah and SWIP (aka One Nevada) transmission line, both of which made adjustments to their design to avoid damaging sensitive wildlife habitat.
When a renewable energy project is being built on the public's land, our group and the two groups that challenged Spring Valley in court have an obligation to ensure the public's assets are not compromised. That means protecting the habitat of the sage-grouse, which is a candidate for the endangered species list, and making sure bats and other wildlife are not unduly harmed by the development.
Finding the right location for these projects - on public land that is close to transmission lines and existing roads, and not encroaching on fragile wildlife habitat or wilderness areas - is what we call "smart from the start," and it benefits the developers, the economy and our state. It's not "hamstringing the country's energy sector."
Spring Valley from the nearby Mount Moriah Wilderness.