Corridor Through Monument Rerouted for Mining Claim

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Tuesday, May 14, 2024
Kevin Emmerich [Basin and Range Watch] (775) 764-1080
Chandra Rosenthal [PEER) (303) 898-0798  


Corridor Through Monument Rerouted for Mining Claim

Transmission Line into Tule Springs Skirts Gold Mine without Public Input


Washington, DC The U.S. Bureau of Land Management has altered the course of a proposed electric corridor slated to go through the Tule Springs National Monument to avoid impacting a gold mining claim. This alteration made without prior public review illustrates BLM’s skewed priorities in pushing the utility project, according to Basin and Range Watch and Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). 

NV Energy’s controversial Greenlink West Transmission Line is a proposed high-voltage system to transmit power between Las Vegas and Reno. Its route would take it through a national park, resulting in the likely destruction of an unknown number of prehistoric fossils located within the Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Monument.   

The project is strongly backed by the Biden administration and its BLM, which is spearheading right-of-way approvals. BLM has refused to reroute the corridor to avoid Tule Springs due to the added cost. However, BLM has not explained why it has recently altered the proposed route of the transmission corridor to accommodate the concerns of Ashanti AngloGold, which according to an email from the BLM project manager, holds a “mining exploration plan of operations on their mining claims in the area.”    

“It is disappointing to see the BLM work so hard to make a gold mining company happy but fail to take reasonable measures to protect irreplaceable paleontological resources,” stated Basin and Range Watch Co-Founder Kevin Emmerich, who spent 20 years with the National Park Service in seven different National Parks and Monuments, including Death Valley. “Our national park lands have never been more cherished by the public and the BLM must take measures to ensure that these lands are protected for future generations.”  

At the same time, BLM is struggling with how to address the large legal and financial problems with excavating a corridor through the Tule Springs National Monument. The Park Service’s own Organic Act forbids impairment of park resources – and in this case the resource under threat is the very one this park was created to protect. In addition, the Paleontological Resources Preservation Act generally forbids the destruction of fossils on federal lands. 

Apart from the expense of mass fossil extraction, these statutes may be the basis of litigation that would tie up the Greenlink West project for years to come. The project’s Environmental Impact Statement is slated for final public comments and approval this summer. 

“If BLM can reroute this corridor to avoid interfering with exploration for gold, it can surely do the same thing to avoid the almost certain destruction of prehistoric fossils,” added Rocky Mountain PEER Director Chandra Rosenthal, noting that BLM has yet to reveal its ultimate paleontological mitigation plan. “BLM may find the cost of excavating and moving every fossil encountered far more expensive than gold.” 


Read BLM admission of accommodating gold mine claim

See BLM accommodations for new route

View the new corridor route 

See problems with the corridor plowing through prehistoric fossil sites

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