By Debbie Coffey ~ Director of Wild Horse Affairs for Wild Horse Freedom Federation
from the pages of the PPJ Gazette
If there isn’t enough water for wild horses, why is there enough water for geothermal exploration?
It seems while the BLM was in a Nevada Federal Court recently claiming a drought “emergency” as the reason they needed to remove wild horses from the federally protected Jackson HMA (Herd Management Area), the BLM may have omitted telling Judge McKibben about their big geothermal lease sale just 6 short months ago, in which they sold thousands of acres in/around southern Jackson HMA for about $2 an acre for geothermal exploration. BLM listed parcels for more than 17,500 acres, including and just around the southern portion of the Jackson HMA.
If the BLM did omit revealing this recent geothermal sale lease information to Judge McKibben in their big “drought” sob story in his courtroom, it seems they may have withheld relevant information. Just one geothermal exploration can use hundreds of gallons per minute (GPM) of water. Geothermal exploration also uses fracking (hydraulic fracturing), which has well publicized risks of contamination to water and aquifers.
On June 7, 2012, the BLM issued a press release stating that Gene Seidlitz, District Manager of BLM Winnemucca District in Nevada, claimed the BLM needed to do an “emergency” roundup of the wild horses in the Jackson HMA.
BLM rounded up horses from the southern Jackson HMA from June 8-22, and even though Judge McKibben enjoined the roundup in the northern area of Jackson HMA because of foaling season, the BLM was to resume the roundup July 1st.
If there isn’t enough water for wild horses, why is there enough water for geothermal exploration? Why doesn’t the BLM declare a drought “emergency” to stop the geothermal exploration?
Bye bye horses, Hello Ormat
Looking at the results of the January 24, 2012 Geothermal Lease Sale, in the south area of the Jackson HMA, Ormat Nevada bought about 15,275 acres (parcels 9,10,11 & 12) for about $30,552. Allied Nevada Gold Corp. bought 2,411 acres (parcel 13) for about $4,822.
The BLM sold out the wild horses, and their federally protected Herd Management Area, for $35,374. Most of Nevada has geothermal potential, so there are other public lands, that don’t include HMAs, that are available for geothermal exploration.
In the January 2012 Geothermal Lease, the BLM offered a total of 33 parcels totaling 94,829 acres of public lands, but sold only 8 parcels (27,834 acres). 5 of the 8 parcels sold were in the area of the southern Jackson HMA.
Geothermal leases are for a 10-year period. Annual rental for a competitive lease is $2 per acre for the first year, and $3 per acre for lease years 2-10. Annual rental for a noncompetitive lease is $1 per acre for lease years 1-10.
After the Energy Policy Act of 2005, the BLM and Forest Service prepared a Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement for Geothermal Leasing in the Western United States in October, 2008.
In the January 2012 geothermal lease sale in Nevada, the BLM got caught with their hands in the sage grouse cookie jar, and had to cough up some of the acres they were planning to sell to protect the little critter. But there has been no protection for wild horses, even on their own federally protected HMA, as the BLM continues their stampede to extinction.
Attempts at conversation or dialogue with this agency that claims transparency, but only spins inaccurate data, will only turn our heads to look in the wrong direction. If there is a water “emergency,” it is being created, in large part, by BLM’s mismanagement of public lands.