A rare Dixie Valley toad sits in the grass in June 2017 in the Dixie Meadows of Churchill County. (Patrick Donnelly/Center for Biological Diversity via AP)
RENO — A federal appeals court has lifted a temporary construction ban on a Churchill County geothermal power plant opposed by a tribe and conservationists who say the site is sacred and home to a rare toad considered for the protection of endangered species.
U.S. District Judge Robert C. Jones in Reno last month granted the 90-day injunction sought by opponents of Ormat Technologies’ Dixie Meadows project at the high desert site bordering hot springs-fed wetlands in east of Fallon.
A two-judge panel at the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco issued a one-page ruling without explanation Friday night, staying Jones’ injunction pending its full review of the appeal on the merits of the case. case.
He also agreed to opponents’ request to expedite the review, but said it would not be completed until April.
The Fallon Paiute-Shoshone Tribe and the Center for Biological Diversity won the court order temporarily banning all work on the project which they said would turn a “unique and isolated desert oasis into an industrial site”.
Ormat said in his appeal last month that he could be forced to scrap the project if he couldn’t begin construction by Feb. 28 about 100 miles east of Reno.