Tuesday, February 13th 5:00pm-7:00pm PST Red Rock Casino, Summerlin Room CD 11011 West Charleston Blvd, Las Vegas, NV
We are writing to alert you about a planning process currently being undertaken by BLM which could have a significant impact on the future of the Amargosa River watershed.
Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is holding an open-house public meeting regarding proposed updates to the agency’s draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Study for the Western Solar Plan. The Western Solar Plan is intended to guide the BLM’s framework for siting solar energy projects to support renewable energy development on public lands while avoiding significant cultural and ecological landscapes.
This is the first update to the Western Solar Plan since 2012, in which the agency attempted to undertake zoning and planning for BLM-managed lands in California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, Colorado, and New Mexico. In this update beginning in December 2022, the BLM has added five additional western states including Washington, Oregon, Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana.
“Why should I care about this process?”
The determinations made in this Solar PEIS will dramatically shape the scale and focus areas for solar energy development throughout the Western United States, and especially for Nevada. Due to its high solar potential and abundance of BLM lands, millions of acres of Nevada may be prioritized for future development.
Unfortunately, despite the BLM’s desire to see sensitive landscapes excluded from this planning process, this initial draft plan indicates Nevada’s Amargosa Desert and Pahrump Valley will be a focal point for solar energy development. Though much of the Amargosa River watershed has already been excluded from solar energy development thanks to California’s Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan, the Nevada side of the watershed remains open for this land use.
Amargosa Conservancy and many of our partners remain highly concerned about the potential impacts large-scale industrial solar development could have on sensitive habitat areas, migratory bird populations, and especially stressed groundwater basins in the region and in the state.
Particularly germane to the concerns of the Amargosa River, utility-scale solar projects entail a large use of water during construction – hundreds of millions of gallons. With the sensitive groundwater dependent ecosystems and existing water stress in the Amargosa River watershed, this may not be the best place to put these projects.
We urge our members living in Southern Nevada to attend this meeting and learn about how to participate in future opportunities to engage in this Solar PEIS planning process. We need our members speaking out for the importance of and sensitivity of the Amargosa River watershed and encouraging BLM to exclude the area from solar development. Your presence and voices as Nevadans is crucial to illustrate local and regional interest and concern in how Nevada’s public lands are managed for now and for generations to come. The Amargosa River watershed is part of Nevada’s character and culture. We need to protect it, and the water, for future generations.
Please join us in showing up for this beloved landscape at this and future meetings. Nevada and the Amargosa River are counting on you!