Southern Nevada Wildlands Get Temporary Reprieve

A Federal judge recently ruled against the Bureau of Land Management's approval of the Searchlight Wind project because the BLM did not adequately analyze potential impacts on golden eagles, bats and desert tortoises, according to Basin & Range Watch.  The BLM initially approved of the Searchlight Wind project in 2013 based on poor quality wildlife surveys paid for by the developer.  The original impact analysis considered only three golden eagle nests within a ten-mile radius of the wind project, even though a separate study funded by the BLM found as many as ten nests.

Apex Clean Energy - the project developer - and the BLM may decide to redo some of the environmental analysis that the court found to be lacking.  However, it would be wiser if Nevada and its neighbors focused investments on energy efficiency, and implemented policies that encourage distributed, locally-controlled renewable energy generation and battery storage.

Spirit Mountain at dusk. This photo was taken from within the footprint of the proposed Searchlight Wind project site
This stretch of southern Nevada is relatively uninterrupted by large-scale human development, providing opportunities for primitive and unconfined recreation.  Once off U.S. Route 95, it is easy to find solitude in the vastness of the Piute Valley and Searchlight Hills, and witness a vibrant and diverse desert ecosystem.  The area is home critical habitat for the desert tortoise, the scenic Wee Thump Wilderness area, and Spirit Mountain, a location of significance to Native American tribes. 

If Apex Clean Energy insists on moving forward with the original project proposal, the area will be transformed by 87 wind turbines - each taller than the Statue of Liberty - and connected by over 35 miles of new roads and 16 miles of new transmission lines.  Apex Clean Energy's proposal further demonstrates that an industry-driven response to climate change lacks a conservation ethic or a concern for sustainability, and underscores the need for a community-focused clean energy path.


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