Policy

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03 Feb: Haiwee Geothermal Development Update

Haiwee Geothermal Development Update In January 2020 the BLM released the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for a project that will expand the Haiwee Geothermal Leasing Area to 22,805 acres, almost triple in size. With this growth, BLM will change the management provisions of National Conservation Lands and Areas of Critical Environmental Concern to allow for geothermal energy production, infringing on Mojave ground squirrel populations, sacred tribal sites, desert tortoise land and more. Part of the leasing area is proposed to expand into a Development Focus Area (DFA) which was established by the DRECP. Friends of the Inyo is pushing…

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03 Feb: Panamint Valley Lithium Update & Monitoring Opportunity

Panamint Valley Lithium Update & Monitoring Opportunity Update Lithium exploration in Panamint Valley has been upheld through all levels of the NEPA process is set to move forward. All the proponent, Battery Minerals Inc., has to do is put a bond down with the BLM and they can begin drilling. It is tough to know when they will initiate exploration but in the meantime, we have a great opportunity for motivated environmentalists and volunteers to help us monitor the Panamint Valley project site. What is monitoring? In this case, monitoring is as simple as taking pictures of the drill sites…

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03 Dec: Action Alert: Alabama Hills Scoping

Action Alert: Alabama Hills Management Plan Scoping On the heels of the designation of the Alabama Hill National Scenic Area, the BLM will begin building out an Implementation Plan that will guide the future of this beloved piece of public land outside of Lone Pine. As stated in the legislation that designated the National Scenic Area in March of 2019, the BLM must “develop a comprehensive plan for the long-term management of the Scenic Area”. Management plan development under the National Environmental Policy Act begins with a process called “scoping.” Scoping allows the public and all interested parties to provide…

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03 Dec: Comment Letter on Haiwee Pumped Storage Project

Comment Letter on Haiwee Pumped Storage Submitted Towards the end of November, Friends of the Inyo submitted comments to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) on L.A area company, Premium Energy’s application for a preliminary permit to examine the Haiwee area for its “pumped storage” capabilities. Simply put, pumped storage is a type of energy storage that involves two reservoirs, one at a higher elevation and one at a lower elevation. When energy is cheap, water is pumped uphill to the higher reservoir for storage. When demand is higher and energy is more expensive, it is sent downhill and sold…

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07 Oct: Bi-State Sage Grouse Listing Update

Bi-State Sage Grouse Listing Update The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) announced on September 27, an extension on the final determination of whether to list the Bi-State Sage Grouse as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. USFWS is extending their final determination based on substantial disagreement regarding the sufficiency and accuracy of the available data relevant to the proposed listing, making it necessary to solicit additional information. Therefore, along with the announcement to extend the final determination, USFWS is also reopening the comment periods for the proposed rule to list the species and the proposed rule to designate critical…

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27 Aug: Panamint Valley Lithium Mine Update

In April this year, Friends of the Inyo submitted comments on an Environmental Assessment proposing exploratory drilling for lithium in Panamint Valley. This project, lead by Battery Minerals Inc., proposes four drill sites north of Trona located off Ballarat Rd, Wingate Rd., and Indian Ranch Rd. In early August, much to the disappointment of Friends of the Inyo, the project was approved by the BLM. Battery Minerals Inc. can move forward with exploration operations. In our comments, we highlight a number of inadequacies in the environmental assessment. For example, it’s possible that the projects groundwater consumption will reduce water flows…

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21 Aug: Bodie Hills Mining Threat Returns

  Canadian based Radius Gold has filed a preliminary application to begin gold mining exploration in the heart of the Bodie Hills near the Dry Lakes Plateau and Rough Creek drainage. This new proposal was recently brought before the Mono County Land Development Technical Advisory Committee for consideration.  The proposed exploration site sits on a split parcel of state leased mineral rights land and private land used for cattle ranching. You can access the “pre-application” to Mono County click here. Access for the exploration is within the BLM managed Bodie Wilderness Study Area (WSA). The WSA is subject to restrictions…

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01 Aug: Defend NEPA on Forest Service Lands

  Friends of the Inyo and conservation groups around the county are fighting back against a terrible rule change that would fundamentally undermine the Forest Service’s NEPA policies and practices. Specifically, the proposed changes would create loopholes to increase the speed and scale of resource extraction, including logging and mining, while eliminating public awareness and input on up to 93% of proposed projects. Additionally, the Forest Service has proposed several new “categorical exclusions” that would allow the agency to move project planning behind closed doors by excluding the public from the decision-making process and eliminating any science-based review of impacts to water, wildlife, and recreation. Read…

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03 Jul: Bridgeport Ranger District seeks Public Comment on Grazing Proposal

The Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest is considering reopening historic sheep allotments near Bridgeport, CA to cattle grazing. The project area covers roughly 20,000 acres of public land in the Cameron Canyon, Jordon Basin, Dunderburg, and Summer Meadows areas, west of highway 395 and south of the community of Bridgeport. Due to the listing of the Sierra Nevada Bighorn Sheep in 1999 and the significant threat of disease transmission to wild sheep, domestic sheep grazing permits were cancelled in 2010 and 2014, respectively. After nearly a decade of recovery from grazing these meadows, uplands and riparian systems have been allowed to rest…

03 May: Bi-State Sage Grouse Public Comment Period

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) is soliciting additional public comments on its proposed rule to list the Bi-State Distinct Population Segment (DPS) of Greater Sage Grouse as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). This action follows a ruling overturning a 2015 USFWS and Department of Interior decision not to list the bird. As a result of this ruling, the agencies are required to re-analyze listing the Bi-State Sage Grouse. The notice announcing the reopening of the public comment period requires submission of comments by June 11, 2019. Comments can be submitted electronically at www.regulations.gov by searching under docket number…