FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 30th, 2023
Kevin Emmerich, Basin & Range Watch, 775-764-1080, email@example.com
Laura Cunningham, Western Watersheds Project, 775-513-1280, firstname.lastname@example.org
Reno, NV — The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has taken the next major step in the environmental review process to advance the construction of 707 miles of two gigantic high-voltage transmission lines in some of Nevada’s most remote, scenic, and biologically significant locations by issuing a Draft Environmental Impact Statement. The Greenlink lines are proposed to be built by the utility NV Energy and would be mostly 525-kilovolt transmission lines that would carry power generated from solar, wind, geothermal, biomass and possibly natural gas generation through wetlands, sage grouse habitat, lands with wilderness characteristics, desert tortoise habitat, pronghorn habitat, culturally significant lands, rare plant habitat, over Joshua tree forests and near tourism-based small communities.
“Both Greenlink projects would open up a Pandora’s Box of large-scale energy impacts in Nevada’s most isolated areas and intact landscapes. This project would create unacceptable impacts to wildlife, rare plants, cultural resources, small communities, and visual landscapes,” said Kevin Emmerich, Co-founder of Basin and Range Watch. “Instead of celebrating Nevada’s natural and cultural resources and directing green energy to previously disturbed lands, politicians have chosen to industrialize the very landscape that makes our state unique.”
The 471-mile Greenlink West Project is now being reviewed with an Environmental Impact Statement with a 90-day public comment period. The transmission towers would be nearly 200 feet tall starting at the natural gas power plants at the Harry Allen Substation at Apex, near Las Vegas, cross remote areas of wildlife habitat in western Nevada, and finally ending up to mostly supply Lithium battery factories and tech industries in the Reno area. The Greenlink West Project would not only impact lands managed by the BLM, but also National Park Service lands, Tribal lands and reservations, and private lands.
“It would be impossible to avoid significant impacts to biological and cultural resources from these associated large-scale solar applications that need the transmission projects to access these remote lands,” said Laura Cunningham of Western Watersheds Project. “We could prevent these huge impacts by constructing solar in the built environment—on the abundant urban rooftops, over parking lots, on warehouses, and on already-disturbed lands.”
Greenlink West would impact Ice Age megafaunal fossils in 1½ miles of Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Monument in southern Nevada, and run over populations of many rare plants, including white-margined penstemon. The line would cut through Mojave desert tortoise and bi-state sage grouse habitat—sage grouse could be impacted by collision hazards presented by the giant new transmission project as well as habitat abandonment within 5 miles of the powerline. The line is proposed to cross sensitive wetlands, endanger bald and golden eagle populations, be built next to Walker Lake, impair the historic viewscape from Fort Churchill State Park, and cross private land.
Greenlink West would build new substations in Amargosa Valley and Esmeralda County near Tonopah, and there are approximately 250 square miles of large-scale solar applications associated with the project so far.
“The massive cumulative impacts of constructing these long transmission lines on public lands in the Silver State should not be ignored,” said Cunningham. “Instead of an expensive grid project that will open up the most remote wildlands to energy development, better planning is needed now that includes conservation.”
Greenlink North has begun a public scoping review and would be constructed on 235 miles of BLM and Forest Service land along Highway 50, otherwise known as the “Loneliest Road in America.”
“To many, this is one of the last great outback areas in Nevada,” Emmerich said. “The line would run through important greater sage grouse habitat, endanger raptor species and create a land rush for large-scale solar and wind energy in some of the last unspoiled areas in the West.”
Two substations would allow the development of several thousand acres in the remote areas of Jake’s Valley near Ely and Big Smoky Valley near Austin. At this point, there are about 55,000 acres of large-scale solar applications associated with Greenlink North and 30,000 acres of wind energy applications.
Basin and Range Watch is a non-profit working to conserve the deserts of Nevada and California and to educate the public about the diversity of life, culture, and history of the ecosystems and wild lands of the desert.
The mission of Western Watersheds Project is to protect and restore western watersheds and wildlife through education, public policy initiatives, and legal advocacy.