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NV Energy project along ‘Loneliest Road in America’ wants public input

The northern part of NV Energy’s controversial plan to build transmission lines along a 235-mile stretch from Ely to Yerington is moving to another public comment phase, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management said Friday.

The overall project, for which consumers will foot a $443 million over budget bill, aligns with the Biden administration’s lofty goal of a fully carbon-free electricity sector by 2035, according to BLM leaders.

However, the Greenlink North project will loosely run along a famous stretch of U.S. Highway 50 between Ely and Yerington, famously known as the “Loneliest Road in America.” BLM will also evaluate how to best situate the project among dwindling sagebrush habitat — critical for the sage-grouse, a funky-looking bird that the agency has formally committed to protecting.

Before releasing a draft environmental impact statement and making any official adjustments to the plan, any group or person interested in providing feedback can submit feedback in a 30-day public comment period. BLM will hold a virtual meeting to collect comments, too, though a date has not yet been set.

“The most helpful comments include potential local concerns and opportunities related to the proposed action, identification of potential alternatives and issues to be analyzed, possible measures to minimize or avoid adverse environmental impacts, information about historic and cultural resources within the area that may be affected, and any other information,” said Gregory Helseth, Renewable Energy Branch Chief for BLM Nevada.

Even if it gets final BLM approval down the line, the project could be held up by lawsuits from environmentalists, who worry about how the project could open up previously undisturbed public lands to development.

In a statement, the Center for Biological Diversity’s Great Basin Director, Patrick Donnelly, said he finds the mere idea of the project “outrageous.” As it is currently proposed, the project would ruin what Donnelly feels is some of Nevada’s wildest and untouched public lands.

“Tourists from around the world come here to experience the freedom of Nevada’s outback, and biologists marvel at the pristine sagebrush sea,” Donnelly said. “We need renewable energy, but it has to be responsibly sited. We’re going to fight the Greenlink North project with everything we’ve got, for the sake of the people and wildlife who hold this landscape dear.”

Contact Alan at ahalaly@reviewjournal.com. Follow @AlanHalaly on X.

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