Don’t do it

The Federal Government’s top-down, heavy-handed disregard for local input and the constant pressure to submit to projects like the Lava Ridge Wind Energy Project is not how our public lands should be managed. And, like you, we firmly oppose the Lava Ridge Wind Energy Project and have from the start. More importantly, we will continue to work alongside you and our local, state, and national elected leaders to appeal the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) and pending Record of Decision (ROD).

Governor Little, Senators Risch and Crapo, Congressman Simpson, and EVERY elected legislator across Idaho joined local County Commissioners, Friends of Minidoka, ranchers, sportsmen, and the entire Magic Valley in opposition to this project. We feel like a toddler, where they — the Department of Interior (DOI) and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) from Washington, D.C. — have patted us on the head and proceeded ahead. Idaho is not a flyover state.

The irony that Tracy Stone-Manning, the Department of Interior’s appointed BLM Director, has the ultimate authority about the trajectory of the Lava Ridge project isn’t lost on us. In 1989, the current Director mailed a letter to the Forest Service threatening that loggers who attempt to cut down a portion of the Clearwater National Forest could be hurt by spikes driven into them to sabotage a sale — a federal crime. Stone-Manning received immunity from prosecution in 1993 in return for her testimony against John Blount and Jeff Fairchild, who were both convicted of spiking, which is considered an act of eco-terrorism because of its potential to maim or kill industry workers.

In Idaho, eco-terrorism and leaders who support it cannot make decisions about our Federal Lands within our borders.

While our state’s abundance of open space with weather befitting to windmills and solar panels is enticing on its own, the Biden Administration’s relentless push to place the large-scale projects on federal lands and sweetened the deal with enhanced incentives included in the Inflation Reduction Act put a bullseye on Idaho. In fact, there are already 11 projects proposed on the Snake River plain alone. Not on our watch.

We ask that Idahoans take a collective, proactive step in warding off these large-scale requests, and develop a plan for Idaho’s long-term energy needs because ignoring the concerns of impacted stakeholders and the sentiments of our surrounding communities is not acceptable.

Thus, we urge the Idaho Office of Energy Management, the Idaho Fish and Game, Idaho Department of Lands, and Idaho’s Office of Species Conservation along with the Governor’s Office to immediately establish emergency recommendations for large-scale renewable energy projects. Our local officials need guidance and support. Additionally, we ask that the above agencies work to provide project applicants and counties with clear and concise processes to avoid long-term impacts of utility-scale wind and solar projects to Idaho’s landscape. Idaho should take the lead in our energy future, not the Federal Government. We need a long-term, Idaho-centric plan to address her energy needs now and into the future that considers the value of multiple use on public lands and most importantly feedback from our citizens.

There is something peaceful and serene about Idaho’s wide-open spaces. Whether you’re taking in the views atop Sid Butte while riding horseback, stop by the archaeological marvel of Wilson Butte Cave on an ATV or pondering the landscape that held thousands of Japanese Americans during World War II — Idaho’s heritage is there. We remain committed to doing all we can to stop the Lava Ridge Wind Energy Project and preserve the serenity of these beloved landmarks and the local community that uses these lands to run cattle, hunt Idaho’s wild game, recreate, and to heal and learn from the past. Preservation of our landscape, our rural communities, and access to sustainable public lands must remain a primary objective. We raise our voices to join our community in saying, “Don’t Do It.”

Laurie Lickley is the Republican candidate running for the District 26 seat in the Idaho Senate.

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