portland independent media center  
images audio video
newswire article reposts oregon & cascadia

corporate dominance | forest defense | indigenous issues

Calpine Plans for Medicine Lake Resource Extraction include 200 new sites

The Mecicine Lake Geothermal Project, being pushed through by the California State Energy Commission, will devastate sacred lands and roadless areas in the Klamath-Sisyou bioregion irreversibly. To experience the beauty of this area, and find out what you can do to help stop the destruction of these sacred lands, you can go on the overnight campout/hike october 18th and 19th to see some of the beauty of the Medicine Lake wildlands. For more information, see the post at:  http://portland.indymedia.org/en/2003/09/272246.shtml
Calpine's plans for resource surveys draw criticism
<mailto: abreitler@redding.com>Alex Breitler

Record Searchlight

October 07, 2003 - 2:07 a.m.
MEDICINE LAKE - A San Jose-based company planning to build a pair of
geothermal plants near this sacred lake has asked the U.S. Forest
Service for permission to conduct more than 200 surveys of the resource-rich
area.

Calpine Corp. says it isn't planning any new projects and that the
surveys are meant only to get a better understanding of the area's
potential.

Although the company made the formal request, the project is really
headed by the state California Energy Commission, which funds geothermal
research, Calpine spokesman Kent Robertson said Monday.

Environmentalists warned that more surveys could mean only one thing:
More development in an area held dear by American Indians and nature
lovers.

"It doesn't take a brilliant scientist to figure out that they're looking
for the resource, and looking for possible further expansion of either
existing projects or future projects," said Peggy Risch of the Mount
Shasta Bioregional Ecology Center.

Controversy has raged over two Calpine projects that have been approved
in the pristine region.

"No longer can we hold this fantasy that it's just about surveying
without looking at what the next step is," Risch said.

Calpine says the above-ground surveys would reduce the number of wells
they'd have to drill to explore the region's geothermal riches.

Robertson said his company has only "minimal involvement" with the project.

"We're certainly supportive of it," he said. "We think it would be beneficial for everyone."

Antennas, transmitters and receivers would be used to get images from
tens of thousands of feet - two miles or more - beneath the Earth's
surface.

The work would require the digging of small trenches or holes, but could be accomplished in a relatively short amount of time - anywhere from 20 minutes to 14 hours.

Conservationists say the surveys may be less damaging to the environment than other exploratory methods, like drilling wells.

Still, caution is warranted, said Deborah Sivas, who represents American Indian tribes through the Earthjustice Environmental Law Clinic at Stanford University.

"Some of these applications for exploration-type activity are fairly invasive things," Sivas said. "But for things that are not really invasive, I doubt that our clients would have much problem with that."

The U.S. Forest Service is asking the public to weigh in on the proposal,
which was first submitted in mid-August. The Forest Service will analyze the comments and seek advice from specialists before making a decision, said Modoc forest spokeswoman Jayne Biggerstaff.

Thirty-seven of the sites are in the Klamath National Forest, 18 in theShasta-Trinity, and 153 in the Modoc.

Also, 43 of the Modoc sites are within a designated roadless area. An environmental assessment would have to be done before those surveys could be conducted.

"There is some clustering" of sites, Biggerstaff said. "At the same time, there are other sites that are really spread throughout the known geothermal resources area."

Proponents say geothermal energy is a clean alternative that could add another ingredient to the nation's mix of domestic power sources. Geothermal plants harness steam from deep within the Earth to spin turbines, thus producing electricity.

But cultural resources in Siskiyou County conflict with the need to produce more power.

Medicine Lake, about 40 miles east of Mount Shasta, is spiritually significant to American Indians, and the area is considered a recreational jewel.

One of the proposed development sites, Fourmile Hill, is tied up in litigation, with a hearing held last month at the U.S. District Court in Sacramento.

Meanwhile, environmentalists have threatened to sue over the other site, 15-acre Telephone Flat, which was first denied approval in 2000. The Bush administration reversed that denial nearly one year ago.

CalPine has 80-plus geothermal plants in the United States, Canada and England, with another 10 under construction.

Reporter <mailto: abreitler@redding.com>Alex Breitler can be reached at 225-8344 or at  abreitler@redding.com.

Tuesday, October 7, 2003


Copyright 2003 Record Searchlight. All Rights Reserved.

This alert was sent out by:

Joseph Vaile
Campaign Coordinator
Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center
POB 102 Ashland OR 97520
p: 541-488-5789
f: 541-482-7282

To experience the beauty of this area, and find out what you can do to help stop the destruction of these sacred lands, you can go on the overnight campout/hike october 18th and 19th to see some of the beauty of the Medicine Lake wildlands. For more information, see the post at:  http://portland.indymedia.org/en/2003/09/272246.shtml