A Wind developer in southern Idaho has hit a two-year road-block that casts significant doubt on whether the wind project sited in pristine sage grouse habitat along the border of Nevada will ever be developed at all.

BLM defers China Mountain decision for two yearsElko Daily Free Press

“stupid bird.”

We’ve covered the China Mountain Wind controversy for a few years – and given it’s being sited on Brown’s Bench, a miraculous public landscape that *in full disclosure* captured my heart, we’ve been pretty forthright in advocating for the energy developers at RES to fast-track their departure:

“I can assure you there will be a protracted legal fight using all legal means available to stop the project”

Brown's Bench, RES America proposes to put hundreds of giant wind turbines on this southern Idaho landscape © Brian Ertz 2010

Obviously the wind project’s impact to sage grouse would be huge, and given that land management agencies all over the west are scrambling to prevent a federal Endangered Species Act listing , there has been a lot of controversy.  Heads have rolled in the past, and there is even more recent speculation that like David Parrish – Nate Fisher, the now former administrator of Idaho’s Office of Species Conservation, may have found his career on a collision course with some political backers of these southern Idaho turbines.

West of 93 on the ID/NV line

Part of the legal controversy has to do with when Idaho BLM would finalize the Jarbidge Range Management Plan Environmental Impact Statement (RMP – EIS), an environmental review that excluded China Mountain from wind development to preserve grouse in its draft.  BLM has been conducting the review on the RMP at the same time as it considers the China Mountain Wind EIS.  RES America, the sketchyWind Developer, wanted the China Mountain Wind EIS published first, so the warnings and priorities present in the draft EIS of the RMP wouldn’t conflict with the development.

Fortunately for the sage grouse, and the landscape, it doesn’t look like RES America is going to get its way.

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Brian Ertz

5 Responses to China Mountain/Browns Bench Wind Hits 2-Year Stall

  1. Ralph Maughan says:

    I’ve taken a lot of photos up on Brown’s Bench. The thought of that many turbines is horrible. Example: http://www.panoramio.com/photo/54650165

    This is about more than a “stupid bird.” It seems to me that Elko politicians are usually very stupid. I trouble with Nevada in general is that they have never been able to generate a sustained economy. The depend on resources that will play out, e.g., mines, endless real estate growth, construction jobs.

    I should remind folks though that the actual project is in Idaho.

    • Salle says:

      If people could get their heads around this concept, those behemoth wind farms, and those huge turbines would not be a major consideration.

      (I have always felt that Nevada was the place where the land rapers are. especially after seeing what the “chaining” programs were all about.)


  2. Daniel Berg says:

    “House panel hearing in Elko on US lands in West”


    Sounds like this will be pretty one-sided…..

  3. Louise Kane says:

    I live on Cape Cod and we face the same issue with wind turbines here. The US Army Corp approved a plan by developers to put 200 of them in the Stellwagen Bank Sanctuary in Nantucket Sound where they would impact right whales, fisheries and be aesthetically inappropriate among other things. The subsidies would be tremendous and many critics argue that the energy return would not be commensurate with the cost of producing the energy. Its a difficult issue because we do need alternative energy sources but these wind turbines also have serious environmental impacts. Here we would loose one of the most amazing landscapes in the world and impact one of the most endangered mammals. I once did a documentary about dam removals in the Pacific Northwest and we looked at wind turbines in California. Some of the facility managers attested to numerous bird deaths and much stronger impacts then the Army Corp ever admits to. We saw a number of the giant turbines rusted and malfunctioning. I can’t imagine upkeeping the turbines in the ocean or in the mountain top region as pictured. The Army Corp always likes to greenlight these big projects. I’d like to know more about what the objections are to the project other than the obvious. What are the subsidies for the developer etc…

  4. Louise Kane says:

    we also had a protracted battle that was lost. I am not even sure where it stands now. This reminds me to revisit the issue.


March 2012


‎"At some point we must draw a line across the ground of our home and our being, drive a spear into the land and say to the bulldozers, earthmovers, government and corporations, “thus far and no further.” If we do not, we shall later feel, instead of pride, the regret of Thoreau, that good but overly-bookish man, who wrote, near the end of his life, “If I repent of anything it is likely to be my good behaviour."

~ Edward Abbey