Friday, April 18, 2014

Bundy Ranch: Precious Metals and "Competitive Leasing"

What is at the core of why the BLM went to Bundy Ranch with weapons? This is conjecture but look at the money.

In 2012 the Obama administration opened the use of some public lands, run by BLM, for "Solar Energy Zone" projects.

"The Solar PEIS planning effort has focused on identifying locations on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands that are most suitable for solar energy development. These areas are characterized by excellent solar resources, good energy transmission potential, and relatively low conflict with biological, cultural and historic resources." [1]

However, in Clark, Nevada, this directly impacts the endangered tortoise population. Mitigation plans were examined to relocate the tortoise population on to Gold Butte land, which is where Cliven Bundy ranches. Even more oddly, only four years after mining was banned in the area to protect the tortoise population, Federal funds began to run out and plans were enacted to euthanize them. [2] This would not be so complex, homesteader fights encroaching government, if not for the removal of BLM web pages specifically mentioning Cliven Bundy. That, and the fact that SEZs  and surrounding areas will eventually be public lands for competitive lease, hopefully not for fracking etc. exploitation:

"Heidi Hartmann, Argonne: Ultimately BLM will offer portions of the SEZ
or the entire SEZ for competitive leasing." (Top of page 3) [3]

It also turns out that the Dry Lake SEZ mitigation plan involving the Bundy Ranch is their test run for the national project:

"Develop a Regional Mitigation Plan for the Dry Lake SEZ and use the lessons
learned to produce guidance for the development of regional mitigation plans for all the remaining SEZs"  (Page 1) [4]

It is also the beginning of a potentially enormous amount of business:

"...with the development of technologies for capture of solar energy and its conversion to electricity there is great interest in siting major industrial developments in the Mojave."

"Sets a clear process that allows for development of well-sited projects on approximately 19 million acres outside the zones" [1]

I think that's the kicker. That's a lot of land opened for "development" of un-named projects "outside the zones"...which is where, exactly? They've detailed other items in stunning depth...the phrase "MINERALS__REALTY__AND_RESOURCE_PROTECTION" is part of the URL of this project's overall Final Report, yet the words nickel, copper, and platinum do not appear a single time therein. 19 million acres is 29,687.5 square miles. says "The total land area (excluding water) in South Carolina is 30,109 square miles", so they're opening an area the size of the land of SC for un-named exploitation and not saying exactly where. In addition to the actual SEZ land!

And apparently a large amount of money: 

"...the cost to buy private land in the vicinity of the SEZ is about $46,000/acre." (Page 16) [3]

Wondering if the "19 million acres" PLUS eventually all of the SEZ areas will be open to unlimited mining, fracking, etc. such as do the Kochs. There is no mention of nickel, copper, or platinum in the BLM Dry Lake SEZ Final Report, but this 2006 government survey of Gold Butte, Bunkerville and surrounding areas opens with 

"Gold Butte...contains areas with high potential for the occurrence of nickel-copper-platinum" "Bunkerville district could reveal a significant resource of nickel, copper, gold..."

so three things become clear. 

1. They cannot build the solar plant in the Dry Lake area and its mitigation in Gold Butte due to Cliven Bundy's wandering cattle which can damage everything, especially the land they wish to use for endangered tortoise relocation, and 

2. the endangered desert tortoise gained a 2009 prohibition on mining in the area, so no mining in Gold Butte and Bunkerville if the tortoise is relocated there. 

3. They're attempting to run off Cliven Bundy with guns and euthanize the endangered tortoise population which leaves no obstacles to the solar plant and the eventual competitive leasing of that land for presumed mining of precious metals by un-named leasees, assumedly for personal profit. The 19 million acres would appear to be immediately open to exploitation. Does this include Gold Butte, Bunkerville, etc.?  

So if you want to follow the money, wonder at who, not involved with the government (NGOs) would be worried about impacts upon this land.

Vanishing BLM Web Pages

Researcher site Storm Clouds Gathering provided a link to the removed BLM web page regarding their complaints regarding Cliven Bundy's "trespass cattle".

BLM Notheast Clark County Cattle Tresspass

However,  Federal funds to preserve the Tortoise population are ending and they are slated to be moved or euthanized. [1] The thing is, another BLM page linked by SCG shows discussion of a Dry Lake Energy Zone and that some unknown party who says that Cliven Bundy's tresspass cattle endagers the offsite mitigation:

Bundy Ranch BLM Cattle Tresspass Impacts 1

So NGOs worry that the mitigation, meaning the transfer of endangered tortoise and other plants and animals from the 93/15 intersection area to Gold Butte would not be sustainable due to the free-wandering cattle. Yet the tortoise is being destroyed...

The Endangered Tortoise, slated for euthanization by the government

The Dry Lake Energy Zone is 45 miles south-west of the Bundy Ranch where the 93 meets the 15 freeway.

You'll see that there is a power plant and a gypsum processing plant at the intersection of the 93 and 15 freeways some 45 miles south-west of Bundy Ranch. This area will be turned into a solar farm.

Dry Lake SEZ Location

Here is the main BLM page.

which links to their Final Report.


What is off-site mitigation and does SRMP fit?
Off-site mitigation is covered under current BLM policy and consists
of compensating for resource impacts by replacing or providing substitute resources or habitat at a differentlocation than the project area.


Obama Administration Releases Roadmap for Solar Energy Development on Public Lands

The document State-by-State list of Solar Energy Zones lists Dry Lake, Clark Nevada, a public land, where currently exists the Harry Allen Generating Station and a gypsum processing plant at the 93/15 intersection.

Potential Impacts of Solar Development in the Dry Lake SEZ:

2. Development may have a significant adverse effect on specially designated areas, especially the Desert National Wildlife Refuge (NWR), Old Spanish National Historic Trail (NHT), Arrow Canyon Wilderness Area (WA), Muddy Mountains WA,
andNellis Dunes Special Recreation Management Area (SRMA).

10. Development may adversely affect specific wildlife species or aquatic biota
(especially 73 identified special-status species). If pre-disturbance surveys indicate concern for any of the 11 ESA-listed or candidate-for-listing species identified as possibly present, consultation with the USFWS on mitigation will be required.

This document, at the very end, discusses the cost of dealing with the endangered tortoise population:

The FWS Biological Opinion was prepared for the entire Silver State Project
(North and South, approximately 7,925 acres). The FWS estimates that up to
38 tortoises will be accidentally injured, killed, or destoryed; up to 123 may be
encountered and relocated. Desert Tortoise Remuneration Fees: BLM
estimates a total of 2,966 acres of tortoise habitat would be disturbed between
the two Silver State projects. Total fees for disturbance of tortoise habitat
within the material site and expansion area would be $2,295,684 ($774/acre X
2,966 acres). Desert Tortoise translocation and fencing: no quantitative
presentation on number of acres or tortoises, amount of fencing, or costs.
Reasonable and Prudent Measures with Terms and Conditions: (1) additional
tortoise fencing; (2) off-site tortoise monitoring for minimum of 5 years; (3) fee
of $9,000 for each tortoise sent to the desert tortoise recovery center.
Who exactly will be getting paid this mitigation fee? 

And why the sudden decision to go out and just kill them!?

Who are the stakeholders in the SEZ developments in Nevada and elsewhere?

This document on page 8 implies that the endangered tortoise would be moved to Gold Butte because it shares equivalent conditions:

"The Gold Butte ACEC is in the same ecological zone (ecoregion) and sub-zone as
the Dry Lake SEZ and is of the same vegetation community. The Gold Butte ACEC provides habitat for all of the wildlife, including the special status species, found in the Dry Lake SEZ."

On page 27 of the above document, a gypsum processing plant is shown at the intersection of the 15 and 93 freeways.  Page 32 of the document (page 27 on the pages) states: 

"Supporting Las Vegas RMP Objective SS-2:
Manage habitat to further sustain the populations of Federally listed species so
that they would no longer need protection of the Endangered Species Act."

Yet clearly the order has come down to kill them!

Prices of desert land:

"Fred Edwards, BLM: On the basis of some research on restoration numbers, the very low end was $10,000/acre in the Mojave." (Page 2) [3]

"Heidi Hartmann, Argonne: Ultimately BLM will offer portions of the SEZ or the entire SEZ for competitive leasing." (Top of page 3)

"Heidi Hartmann, Argonne: Mike Baughman said that he understood the cost to buy private land in the vicinity of the SEZ is about $46,000/acre. I’m wondering if a valid comparison is the cost of private land versus the sum of the BLM rental fee, MW fee, and mitigation (that is, should we consider the cost of nearby private lands in establishing the mitigation fees for SEZs)?" (Page 16)

This document states on page 125:

"Transmission Assessment
•     Dry Lake SEZ estimated to have the potential to generate up to 915 MW of marketable power
•     Possible load areas
–     Las Vegas, NV
–     Los Angeles, CA and Phoenix, AZ"

So this is a for-profit but government-owned facility (which will later be opened for "competitive leasing" to unknown parties).

Who are the non-governmental organizations involved in the SEZ projects, the stakeholders? A few parties listed in the 4th workshop include NRG Solar, Southern California Edison, NewFields, the Air Force and Department of Defense. While I significantly doubt that the rumor regarding Blackwater/Xe/Academi wanting the land for military-grade minerals and metals is simply rumor, there =are= potentially large amounts of valuable metals present, and since the government wants Gold Butte for mitigation projects, it would fall under their jurisdiction, and said jurisdiction involves a definite amount of land surround the SEZ as being open for exploitation. This is conflation and conjecture but follow the money and dead endangered tortoise population for a possible answer.

Minerals at Bundy Ranch

Other struggles in Nevada by locals against BLM and mining companies

Never Mind Cliven Bundy: Here’s the Real David vs. Goliath Story Between Ranchers and Feds

"The Western Shoshone filed suit decades ago to try to clear up the ownership of their land, which the U.S., through congressional legislation, began taking for various means. Some of the land was used for nuclear testing— the Department of Energy has detonated more bombs there than anywhere else on earth—while other plots were leased to mining companies digging for gold."

Citizen Groups File to Prevent the ‘Immediate and Irreparable Impacts from the Mount Hope Molybdenum Mine'

“Springs and/or waterholes that will be affected by the Project’s dewatering and other operations are utilized by livestock grazing on public land.
 The Mt. Hope Mine Project would be one of the largest open pit mines in the nation. Mt. Hope and its environs will be obliterated if this project goes forward as planned...

The Draft EIS states that drain-down solutions from the tailings storage facilities are expected to contain aluminum, antimony, cadmium, fluoride, manganese, molybdenum, and sulfate concentrations that exceed water quality standards, and will become acidic over time. Waste rock seepage will contain high concentrations of aluminum, arsenic, cadmium, fluoride, manganese, nickel, zinc, copper, iron, lead, beryllium, thallium, selenium, sulfate, and total dissolved solids. If tailings and waste rock disposal facilities, fluid collection systems, and evapotranspiration cells are not properly managed over the long-term, the project could result in significant and long-term degradation of surface water and/or groundwater quality, as well as wildlife exposure to these waters. - March 28, 2012 EPA letter to BLM."

Who is against solar power? 

Conservative heavyweights have solar industry in their sights

"The Koch brothers and large utilities have allied to reverse state policies that favor renewable energy."

The recent "government shut-down"

"But the fact that the government and parks are closed hasn’t stopped Congress from holding hearings, including one Thursday in the House Natural Resources Committee on a bill that would force a fire sale of 3.3 million acres of public lands."

National Parks Remain Closed, Yet House Republicans Move To Sell Off 3.3 Million Acres Of Public Lands

The Koch brothers are big on turning Federal lands over to States so they may exploit them. 

The continuing Harry Reid question.

Superb researchers detail some interesting bits about Senator Reid which are well worth keeping in mind:


[1] Obama Administration Releases Roadmap for Solar Energy Development on Public Lands

[2] Endangered US Tortoises to Be Euthanized

[3]  Solar Regional Mitigation Planning – Dry Lake Solar Energy Zone Pilot Project Workshop 4 February 27, 2013

[4] Framework and Action Plan for developing a Regional Mitigation Plan

[5] Working toward a regional mitigation plan for the Solar Energy Zone

Further reading: 

The Bundy Ranch, OathKeepers, and the Koch Brothers...the 1%'s revolution?

"The mines would come in and poison everything..."

Please pardon my lack of HTML skills. Cutting-and-pasting text from several sources has caused the font type to get out of control.