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Burning Man Cheers County’s Overturning

Written by on April 20, 2023

Burning Man Cheers County’s Overturning Geothermal Permit

RENO, Nev. — The Burning Man organization is cheering the Washoe County Commission’s decision to overturn a permit that would have allowed an energy company to drill exploratory wells for a geothermal project in the Nevada desert near the site of the annual counterculture festival.

The commission voted 3-2 on Tuesday to rescind the permit that the county’s Board of Adjustment approved in January. The permit would have allowed Ormat Technologies to drill up to 13 test wells in the area near Gerlach, a town of about 130 people.

Opponents of the project, including Burning Man, said it could jeopardize the town’s water supply and detract from the remote area’s natural beauty.

“We are grateful to the Washoe County Commission for listening to the concerns of the community and taking action to protect the Black Rock Desert,” Burning Man spokesperson Megan Miller said in a statement. “This is a victory for all who love this special place.”

Ormat said it is disappointed with the commission’s decision and is considering its options, including legal action.

“We believe that this project is in the best interests of the community and the environment,” Ormat spokesperson David Pogue said in a statement. “We are committed to working with the community to find a solution that meets everyone’s needs.”

The Black Rock Desert is a vast, arid expanse of land about 100 miles north of Reno. It is home to Burning Man, which attracts more than 70,000 people each year. The festival is known for its radical self-expression, art installations, and music.

The geothermal project would have been located about 10 miles from the Burning Man event site. Ormat said the project would have generated enough electricity to power about 10,000 homes.

But opponents of the project said it could have damaged the town’s water supply and posed a risk to the environment. They also said the project would have been disruptive to the Burning Man experience.

The Washoe County Commission’s decision is a victory for those who have been fighting the geothermal project. It is a reminder that the public has a voice in land-use decisions, and that it is important to speak up when you see a project that could harm your community.

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