“I can assure you there will be a protracted legal fight using all legal means available to stop the project”
Some of the really great things I enjoy about living in the west are the obscure landscapes/mountain ranges. Unlike national parks, ‘W‘ilderness areas, National Monuments and other landscapes prominently highlighted on any western map, there are many public landscapes less conspicuous, maybe not even labeled on a common roadmap, belonging to all of us that are best known by the locals ~ sportsmen, anglers, ranchers, really hardcore conservationists and recreationists. Landscapes that harbor habitat and wildlife that exemplify its original nature.
These less conspicuous areas are where I learned to hunt and fish with my brothers, places I continue to frequent to hike, botanize and view wildlife with my kids. Public lands that have served countless generations in such an economically intangible way, uplifting our spirit and serving our truly unique and blessed standard of living. If you’re reading this, it’s likely you know what I mean.
Increasingly, these places find themselves under threat by new energy technologies which extend the reach of our human ability to extract resources into places otherwise overlooked by industry yesteryear.
In southern Idaho, just west of Highway 93 on the Idaho/Nevada line, Brown’s Bench is just such a place.
Concerned about grouse, groups ask China Mountain developer to reconsider – Opposition Rises as Wind Farm Study Nears – Times-News
One by one, organizations weighing the land against the wind are concluding that more green energy doesn’t outweigh the risk to sage grouse.
The company proposing the huge China Mountain Wind Project is RES Americas, a subsidiary of a European corporation.
That’s right, American pubic lands leased to benefit foreign investors, not local economies.
Despite constructive criticism suggesting alternative siting, RES Americas has insisted on Brown’s Bench, an island of pristine habitat among a sea of the burned and denuded Snake River Plain, as the location for its proposed China Mountain Wind Project. The proposed energy development will burden these public lands with up to 400 giant wind towers in order to supply Las Vegas, Nevada the energy it demands to keep its casinos lit 24/7.
That’s right, the power won’t serve local cities like Twin Falls or even the largest metropolitan city of Boise. What’s not lost across the entire length of the state of Nevada via transmission lines will be used to light the night in the wasteful resource sucking “sin city”, Las Vegas.
To facilitate this development, RES Americas intends to blade up to 70 miles of new and reconstructed roads forever fragmenting habitat on this remarkable landscape renowned for being among the last intact, highest quality sage-steppe landscapes in Idaho.
The quality of wildlife habitat at Brown’s Bench is critically important for imperiled sagebrush obligate species such as sage grouse and pygmy rabbit as well has highly valued big game habitat prompting significant concern from wildlife groups.
I do think it important to mention to you that WWP has concluded that there is no degree of mitigation we can imagine that would be sufficient to ameliorate the negative impacts of the proposed China Mountain Wind Project on this critical wildlife habitat landscape.
The impacts of the proposed project will effectively doom the Brown’s Bench area for future use by sage steppe dependent species. This level of impact is so harsh that WWP has concluded that the China Mountain Project should not be built.
Should the BLM proceed with some level of approval for the China Mountain Wind Project (something we anticipate if Ken Salazar remains as Secretary of the Interior), I can assure you there will be a protracted legal fight using all legal means available to stop the project.
I don’t say this lightly or as a threat but rather as a simple statement of fact. As someone who is very interested in helping to break the stranglehold of the petroleum-based economy in which we now live, I am sure I share many viewpoints with you and other staff at RES Americas; however, as WWP has made clear for a long time now renewable energy projects that are proposed for the least disturbed parts of our public lands are not welcome. There are ample locations in the United States where wind resources are plentiful and even better than those on Browns Bench and China Mountain. Those areas include lands already radically altered by agriculture and other forms of human development, and, in my and WWP’s opinion, those are the places where large scale wind projects like this should be built.
What is so absurd about this and other proposals is that legitimate alternatives exist; Distributed, or decentralized, production makes economic and ecological sense and even if one were to concede the need for utility scale Big Energy (that turns out to be even less efficient than industry claims), the highly denuded Snake River Plain just north of Brown’s Bench has equitable wind as Wind developers’ interest and efforts there demonstrate the economic viability of these alternatives.