Geothermal Case In Sacramento Court

Mount Shasta, California, April 11, 2016 – The long-standing challenge to geothermal leasing in the Medicine Lake Highlands will receive a hearing by Judge John A. Mendez in US District Court, Sacramento on April 19th at 1:30 p.m. in Courtroom 6.

A Native American Rally is planned (starting at noon in front of the US District Courthouse at 501 “I” Street in Sacramento) to raise awareness of the sacredness of the Medicine Lake Highlands in Native culture and the damaging effects that large-scale industrial geothermal development would have on this remote pristine landscape. The volcanic Highlands are an enormous hydrological recharge area whose snowmelt emerges as the Fall River Springs, the largest spring system in the state, annually contributing over 1.2 million acre-feet to Shasta Lake Reservoir and the Sacramento River, serving millions of Californians downstream.

The Stanford Environmental Law Clinic will represent the Pit River Tribe, Mount Shasta Bioregional Ecology Center, Native Coalition for Medicine Lake Highlands Defense, and Medicine Lake Citizens for Quality Environment. Legal arguments will center around BLM’s violations of the Geothermal Steam Act, National Environmental Policy Act, National Historic Preservation Act, and the government’s trust responsibility to Native Tribes through failure to conduct environmental, cultural, and tribal reviews before renewing Calpine Corporation’s leases.

A July 2015 Ninth Circuit Court ruling affirmed the right of the plaintiffs to challenge the lease renewals, after BLM had previously questioned their standing to bring the case in US District Court. The hearing is a culmination of over 19 years of opposition to energy development in the Medicine Lake Highlands by the tribe and environmental groups. A 2014 Ninth Circuit decision invalidated two lease extensions for the Fourmile Hill geothermal project proposed for the Highlands, and the current case addresses the remaining 26 geothermal leases.

Michelle Berditschevsky