Home>775Times>Burning Man Has Become the Latest Nemesis of ‘Green Energy’ Project in Nevada

Burning Man Has Become the Latest Nemesis of ‘Green Energy’ Project in Nevada

By TheNevadaGlobeStaff, January 12, 2023 12:36 pm

RENO, Nev. (775 Times, NV Globe) – Add Burning Man to the list of lawsuits opposing one of Nevada’s rising number of “green energy” projects.

In the nation’s top gold mining state, lithium mines targeted at increasing production of electric car batteries and geothermal power plants that tap subsurface water to create sustainable energy are in various phases of planning and construction.

Over the last two years, environmental groups, Native American tribes, and ranchers have all filed lawsuits attempting to halt particular projects.

They claim that, while they support efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in order to battle climate change, commercial developments on public property in Nevada were permitted illegally and would have environmental and cultural effects.

Now, the organization behind the world’s most renowned counterculture gathering is battling the US government over geothermal research in the Nevada desert, where 70,000 free spirits known as “Burners” assemble every summer.

The Burning Man Project and four co-plaintiffs filed the latest action this week in federal court in Reno, accusing the Bureau of Land Management of violating environmental regulations by permitting Ormat Nevada Inc.’s exploratory drilling in the Black Rock Desert 120 miles (193 kilometers) north of Reno.

Friends of Nevada Wilderness, Friends of Black Rock/High Rock Inc., and two Gerlach homeowners joined the action, alleging that the agency’s environmental study of the exploratory project overlooked possible impacts from a large-scale geothermal project.

“Ormat’s exploration project will lay the foundation for turning a unique, virtually pristine ecosystem of environmental, historical and cultural significance into an industrial zone, and permanently alter the landscape,” the lawsuit says.

According to Ormat Vice President Paul Thomsen, the complaint is without merit.

In an email to The Associated Press, Bureau of Land Management spokesman Brian Hires said the agency had no comment on the case.

The drilling will take place within the Black Rock National Conservation Area, which is home to the festival, which features themed tent communities and avant-garde art shows sprouting from a barren desert basin that was once the floor of a long-gone lake.

Clothing is optional, but attendance at the psychedelic festival of art, music, and occasionally anarchy itself is necessary as aged hippies, Silicon Valley CEOs, and other curious seekers assemble around drum circles and pagan fire rites.

Or, as the lawsuit says, where attendees “over the course of eight days, camp and participate in a unique experimental community.”

“The ethos and culture of the event are rooted in the Ten Principles of Burning Man,” including “radical inclusion,” gifting, self-expression, communal effort, civic responsibility and “Leaving No Trace,” the lawsuit explains.

The complaint claimed that by segmenting the project, which restricts BLM’s evaluation to to the first stage of its plans: exploration, Ormat has sought to escape study of the possible adverse environmental consequences of geothermal power plants.

“However, this first stage merely confirms where the resources are located to inform future industrial scale geothermal energy development,” the suit said. “Once the exploration project begins, it will be impossible to stop the effects of the entire geothermal production project.”

19 test wells and pads, related infrastructure, and 2.8 miles (4.5 kilometers) of new and enhanced access roads are all part of the exploration project.

The proposed wells would be close to many distinctive hot springs that the neighborhood depends on for tourism. According to the lawsuit, the springs are particularly important environmentally since they are “interconnected with one other, the ecology, and the region’s beautiful terrain.”

“After participating in the public process and seeing no movement on our concerns, we filed this lawsuit to help ensure the impacts from the proposed project are minimized, and that Ormat is a good corporate citizen in this environmentally sensitive, economically vulnerable area of northern Nevada,” said Adam Belsky, Burning Man Project’s general counsel.

Thomsen stated in an email that Ormat “looks forward to succeeding in the litigation and continuing its commitment to Nevada’s green energy, zero emissions future, which will balance some of the copious amounts of fossil fuels the Burning Man Project yearly releases in the Black Rock Desert.”

Credits: KOLO TV

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