Geothermal company Ormat Technologies this week punched back at Burning Man. Ormat officials said the arts organization, which hosts the annual Burning Man festival at Nevada’s Black Rock Desert, filed a lawsuit against the Bureau of Land Management and is making false claims, stoking fears and misleading the public over a geothermal exploration project near Gerlach.
“The false claim that Ormat will drill 20 exploration wells and generate 900 days of noise from drilling is based on a misunderstanding of process, policy, and financial feasibility,” Ormat officials said in a statement to the news media.
“Burning Man’s fear campaign ignores the numerous benefits of geothermal exploration. Should Ormat eventually develop a power plant, not only would it generate 100% renewable energy, it would also bring to the Gerlach community new jobs and enhanced infrastructure, including new roads, power lines, telecommunication, and municipal water systems.”
Ormat operates geothermal plants in south Reno and one outside of Gerlach.
Burning Man’s attorney told the Nevada Current last week they sued BLM because Burning Man’s concerns had not been addressed.
“After participating in the public process and seeing no movement on our concerns, we filed this lawsuit to help ensure the impacts from the proposed project are minimized, and that Ormat is a good corporate citizen in this environmentally sensitive, economically vulnerable area of Northern Nevada,” said Burning Man Project’s General Counsel Adam Belsky.
Ormat this week, however, accused Burning Man of hypocrisy. It cited Burning Man’s 2019 post on Medium that emphasized an environmental sustainability roadmap and the organization’s use of renewable technologies.
“Instead of prioritizing these goals, the Burning Man Project has chosen to expend its resources on a lawsuit at odds with their simultaneous promotion of a permanent off-grid community that would itself forever change the town character,” Ormat officials said. “Ormat is confident that BLM’s comprehensive review process and approval will be upheld in the litigation.”
Burning Man did not respond to a request for comment. Friends of Nevada Wildness and Friends of Black Rock High Rock also oppose the Ormat project.