Nevada Toad in Geothermal Power Fight Gets Endangered Status

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Reno, Nev. (AP) – Small Nevada The toad, at the center of a legal battle over a geothermal energy project, was officially declared an endangered species last spring after U.S. wildlife officials temporarily listed it as a rare emergency.

“This verdict constitutes the final list Dixie Valley Toad, ” the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said in a formal rule published Friday in the Federal Register.

The spectacular, quarter-sized falls are “currently in danger of extinction throughout their range due to the acknowledgment and onset of geothermal development,” the service said.

Other threats to the toad include groundwater pumping, agriculture, climate change, disease and predation by bullfrogs.

Provisional list In April This is the second time in 20 years that the company has taken such urgent action.


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Environmentalists who first petitioned for listing in 2017 sued In January The toad lives 100 miles (160 kilometers) east of Reno on the edge of wetlands to prevent construction of a geothermal power plant — the only place on Earth where it is known to exist.

“We are pleased that the Biden administration is taking this vital step to prevent the destruction of an irreplaceable area of ​​Nevada’s special biodiversity,” said Patrick Donnelly, Great Basin Regional Director for the Center for Biological Diversity.

The center and a tribe fighting the plan say pumping hot water from beneath the Earth’s surface to generate carbon-free power would adversely affect the level and temperature of surface water that is critical to toad survival and sacred to the Fallen Bight-Shoshone tribe.

The Fish and Wildlife Service cited those concerns in the final listing rule.

“From the best available information, a complete reduction in spring flow and a significant reduction in water temperature are plausible consequences of the geothermal project, and these conditions will no longer sustain the species,” the agency said.

“Because the species occurs in a single spring system and does not experience planned habitat changes in scale or speed, it may have limited ability to adapt to a rapidly changing environment,” it said. “We find that endangered species status is not appropriate because the threat of extinction is imminent.”

Officials with Reno-based developer Ormat Technology said the end of service was “unexpected” when it received the emergency listing in April. In recent months, the agency and the U.S. Working with the Bureau of Land Management, the program is adapting to maximize toad reduction and minimize any threat to its survival.

The case is currently before U.S. District Judge Robert Jones in Reno over the original plan to build two power plants capable of producing 60 megawatts of electricity. It has already made a trip to the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals, which refused to grant a temporary injunction blocking construction of the power plant the bureau approved in August 2021.

But hours after that ruling, Ormat announced it had agreed to temporarily suspend all work on the project until next year. After At the end of OctoberThe bureau and Ormat asked the judge to stay the case

Ormat Vice President Paul Thomsen said in an email to The Associated Press on Thursday that the agency did not accept the Wildlife Service’s “characterization of potential impacts” as the basis for its project’s listing decision. He said it would not replace the coordination and consultation already underway to reduce and mitigate any of those impacts “regardless of its status under the Endangered Species Act.”

“Following the emergency listing decision, BLM began consultation with FWS, and Ormat has requested approval for a small project authorization that provides additional assurance that the species will not be affected by geothermal development,” he said.

“As a zero-emissions, renewable energy facility, this project will further the Biden administration’s clean energy initiatives and support the fight against climate change,” Thompson said.

Donnelly acknowledged that renewable energy is “essential to combating the climate emergency.”

“But it cannot come at the cost of destruction,” he said.

Endangered species protection was initiated on an emergency basis in 2011, when the Obama administration took action on the southern Miami blue butterfly. Florida. Before that, the California tiger salamander was given an emergency listing under the Bush administration in 2002.

Other species listed on an emergency basis over the years include California bighorn sheep in the Sierra Nevada in 1999, Steller sea lions in 1990, and the Sacramento River winter migration of chinook salmon and Mojave desert turtle in 1989.

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