For Immediate Release,
August 1, 2022
RENO, Nev.— The Center for Biological Diversity and geothermal developer Ormat reached a legal agreement today to halt construction of the Dixie Meadows Geothermal Project until the risks to the endangered Dixie Valley toad can be fully evaluated. The Center’s co-plaintiffs, the Fallon Paiute-Shoshone Tribe, and the Department of the Interior were also parties to the agreement.
Government and independent scientists have agreed that the project could drive the Dixie Valley toad to extinction. In April the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service took the extraordinary step of giving the rare Nevada toad emergency Endangered Species Act protections.
Today’s agreement pauses construction until the Service completes consultation on the project and issues a biological opinion or until Dec, 31, whichever comes first.
“I’m thrilled that yet again the bulldozers are grinding to a halt as a result of our legal actions,” said Patrick Donnelly, Great Basin director at the Center. “Nearly every scientist who has evaluated this project agrees that it puts the Dixie Valley toad in the crosshairs of extinction. This agreement gives the toad a fighting shot.”
The agreement is the latest twist in the legal saga over the contested project. In January a U.S. District Court judge ordered construction halted days before it was scheduled to begin. But the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals stayed that order a few weeks later.
Geothermal energy, while a carbon-free power source, is known to cause significant harm to nearby surface water. Around the globe hot springs near geothermal projects have dried up or cooled off after geothermal projects began producing energy. This occurred at a project by the same developer just 40 miles from Dixie Meadows.
If the hot springs at Dixie Meadows cool off or go dry it would cause the extinction of the Dixie Valley toad.
“This agreement comes just in the nick of time to save this little toad from extinction,” said Donnelly. “We support geothermal energy, but it can’t come at the cost of biodiversity. We won’t rest until this destructive project is stopped for good.”
Today’s agreement sets a briefing schedule for the merits of the case at the district court.