Burning Man Cheers County’s Overturning Geothermal Permit

County commissioners have revoked Ormat Technologies’ permit to drill exploratory wells for a geothermal project in the Nevada desert. This is near the site of the annual Burning Man counterculture festival about 110 miles north of Reno.

Officials for the Burning Man organization have filed a suit in the U.S District Court to block Ormat Technologies’ explorations in the Black Rock Desert. They commented that the move puts the project on hold indefinitely and could scuttle it all together. The County Commission voted 3-2 to overturn the permit that the county’s Board of Adjustment approved in January. The permit was to allow for the drilling of up to 13 geothermal test wells in the area near Gerlach, a town of about 130. This project could damage the town’s water supply and detract from the remote area’s natural beauty.

Gerlach’s very existence is threatened by the Ormat geothermal development.

 Allen Nash, vice president of the Gerlach Volunteer Fire Department 

The project runs the risk of changing a spectacular mountain vista into a spectacular vista of an industrial plant

 Seth Schrenzel, a local business owner and trustee for the Gerlach General Improvement District

This community stood up and made a difference. Burning Man is pleased to have played a role in protecting the town and this special wilderness we call home

Marnee Benson, the organization’s director of government affairs

Ormat Technologies is involved in a lengthy federal court battle over a geothermal power plant it wants to build about 100 miles east of Reno. Local residents joined the Burning Man Project in January in appealing the permit. They argue that the timing of the public notice of a meeting to gather community input just after the Christmas holidays prevented anyone from attending. They also said the proposed project fails to comply with the county’s “High Desert Area Plan” intended to protect scenic vistas and natural resources.

Let’s hope nothing hinders Burning Man!