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Lava Ridge Project alternative shrinks project following public feedback

Posted at 11:16 AM, Jun 06, 2024

TWIN FALLS — The Bureau of Land Management has presented a preferred alternative following backlash from the public in the Magic Valley.

RELATED | FUTURE OF LAVA RIDGE: Congressmen speak on controversial project

The project would originally have brought around 400 wind turbines to the area, but the new preferred alternative shrinks development by nearly half, to about 241 turbines while also imposing a height limit of 660 feet on the turbines. More details on the scale of the project are available here.

The alternative also adjusts the configuration so that the closest turbine to the Minidoka National Historic Site would be at least 9 miles away, allowing visitors to expierience the remote nature of the former incarceration site for Japanese Americans during WWII. The reduction also minimizes the potential impact on sage grouse, large wildlife migration routes and winter concentration areas, cultural resources, Jerome County Airport and agricultural aviation uses, public land ranchers, and adjacent private landowners.

The three-year construction is expected to create up to 700 jobs in the Magic Valley and 20 permanent jobs once the development is operational.

If the preferred alternative is selected, the project’s construction is estimated to generate $21.9 million in annual tax revenue and contribute $138.9 million in total economic output to local and regional economies. Once operational, the project is estimated to have a minimum economic output of $7.5 million annually.

Senator Jim Risch released a statement on June 6 about the development in opposition to the decision by the BLM to continue with the Lava Ridge Wind Project.

“Idahoans could not be more clear that they do not support Lava Ridge. Yet, for some reason, the BLM continues to push forward this project that no one in Idaho wants,” said Risch. “This is not over—I will continue to fight this unnecessary and ill begotten project.”

“This is the latest example of the Biden Administration’s unsound energy agenda," said Idaho Governor Brad Little. "The BLM is determined to give California electricity from Idaho despite overwhelming opposition from Idahoans and contrary to formal actions by Idaho’s county, state, and federal elected officials, including federal legislation and federal law. I do not agree with BLM’s conclusion that the effects of this extraordinarily complex proposal are ‘not significant.’ It may not matter in Washington, D.C., but it matters to those of us who live here.”

“The Federal Government should stop ignoring Idahoans on Lava Ridge," said US Senator Mike Crapo. "Countless Idahoans have spoken out and continue to speak out against the Lava Ridge Wind Project as they know what is best for their land and livelihoods. This decision by the BLM shows the utmost disdain for the people most affected by this obtrusive and unwanted wind project. I will continue to fight with the people of Idaho in opposition to this project.”

"This final Environment Impact Statement is a slap in the face to Idahoans," commented Congressman Mike Simpson. "Despite widespread opposition at the local, state, and federal levels, the Bureau of Land Management is continuing to recklessly move forward with the Lava Ridge Project. From the start, I have made it clear that I expect the BLM to listen to and incorporate the concerns of those directly affected by the project. I authored language—passed by Congress and signed into law by the President—directing the Department of the Interior to reengage and seek feedback from the stakeholders on alternative plans before moving forward with Lava Ridge. The Department failed to meet the language requirements of that law. The Lava Ridge Project is out-of-touch and has absolutely no place in the Magic Valley. I will continue fighting to ensure that Idahoans' voices are heard.”