Tribe, Non-Profit Sue BLM Over Proposed Nevada Geothermal Energy Project

According to last week’s lawsuit and an accompanying press release published by the Center for Biological Diversity, the group and the Fallon Paiute-Shoshone Tribe want to stop a developer’s project planned for Dixie Meadows, Nevada. If it proceeds, the litigants warn that the project could dry up nearby springs to the detriment of the sacred lands and the rare Dixie Valley toad.

The plaintiffs claim the U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s approval of the project was hasty, pointing to Freedom of Information Act-obtained documents showing other federal agencies’ concern over the proposal. Though the Center indicated its support for renewable energy, a quoted spokesperson conveyed disapproval with the project as it threatens sacred sites and endangered species.

For its part, the Tribe said that the Dixie Meadows is home to its most sacred hot spring, the site of medicinal and healing practices for time immemorial, according to the press release. An industrial power plant “would irreversibly damage the Tribe’s connection to its culture and history, and risks consequences to the Tribe from the Creator,” the announcement said.

For the Dixie Valley toad, the Center has reportedly pushed for its listing on the Endangered Species List since 2017. Though the non-profit said it obtained initial approval in 2018, the toad has languished in bureaucratic limbo since, with the Center recently filing a lawsuit to hasten a decision, the press release reported.

The District of Nevada complaint asks that the court set aside the preliminary and final decisions granting the developer permission to construct the power plant as violative of the National

Environmental Policy Act, the Federal Land Policy and Management Act, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and the Administrative Procedure Act. The lawsuit also requests an award of the   plaintiffs’ fees and costs.

The Center for Biological Diversity represents itself, and the Fallon Paiute-Shoshone Tribe by Ziontz Chestnut and local counsel Woodburn and Wedge.