Media Advisory, June 14, 2022

Contact:

Patrick Donnelly, (702) 483-0449, pdonnelly@biologicaldiversity.org

9th Circuit Court to Hear Arguments Wednesday Challenging Geothermal Plant Endangering Sacred Site, Rare Toad

SAN FRANCISCO— Attorneys for conservation advocates and the Fallon Paiute-Shoshone Tribe will present oral arguments Wednesday to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco challenging the government’s approval of a geothermal power plant. The plant threatens to destroy a Nevada sacred site and drive the rare Dixie Valley toad to extinction.

“The government’s own scientists are convinced this geothermal project would destroy Dixie Meadows and drive the Dixie Valley toad extinct. We hope the court will agree,” said Patrick Donnelly, Great Basin director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Federal officials broke the law when they approved this project. This case gives the Fallon Paiute-Shoshone Tribe and the Dixie Valley toad a chance at justice.”

What: Oral arguments on a motion for preliminary injunction challenging the U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s 2021 approval of the Dixie Meadows geothermal project in central Nevada.

When: 9 a.m. Wednesday, June 15, 2022.

Where: U.S. Court of Appeals, James R. Browning Courthouse, 95 7th St., San Francisco, CA, 94103. The hearing will also be livestreamed.

Who: The Center for Biological Diversity will be represented by attorney Scott Lake. The Fallon Paiute-Shoshone Tribe will be represented by attorney Wyatt Golding. Hearing the arguments will be judges Jay S. Bybee, Consuelo M. Callahan and Daniel P. Collins.

Background
Dixie Meadows is a verdant desert oasis in central Nevada, created by discharge from numerous hot springs that create a series of wetlands and ponds in the Great Basin Desert. Dixie Meadows is a sacred site for the Fallon Paiute-Shoshone Tribe and is also home to the Dixie Valley toad, an extremely rare and diminutive species that lives nowhere else on earth.

Geothermal developer Ormat has targeted Dixie Meadows for geothermal development for many years. Geothermal power plants have a long and well-documented history of drying up nearby hot springs. In 2017 the Center submitted an Endangered Species Act petition to the US Fish and Wildlife Service to protect the Dixie Valley toad.

In 2021, over the objections of conservationists and the Tribe, the Bureau of Land Management approved the Dixie Meadows Geothermal Project. In December 2021 the Center and the Tribe sued the BLM.

In January Judge Robert C. Jones ruled in favor of the Tribe and the Center, and issued a preliminary injunction to halt construction. Ormat appealed to the 9th Circuit, which in February stayed the injunction, allowing construction to proceed shortly thereafter.

In April the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service took the rare step of providing emergency Endangered Species Act protections to the toad.

The Dixie Valley toad is one of more than 200 species of plants and animals that live in Nevada and nowhere else in the world. Dozens of these native species are threatened with extinction.

Threats to Dixie Valley toads are part of a global extinction crisis. Scientists predict that more than 1 million species face extinction in coming decades.

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Dixie Valley Toad. Please credit: Patrick Donnelly / Center for Biological Diversity. Image is available for media use.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.