9th Circuit Lifts 90-Day Ban at Geothermal Plant in Nevada

RENO, Nev. (AP) — A federal appeals court has lifted a temporary ban on construction of a Nevada geothermal power plant opposed by a tribe and conservationists who say the site is sacred and home to a rare toad being considered for endangered species protection.

U.S. District Judge Robert C. Jones in Reno had granted the 90-day injunction last month sought by opponents of Ormat Technologies' Dixie Meadows project at the high-desert site bordering wetlands fed by hot springs east of Fallon.

A two-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco issued a one-page ruling without explanation late Friday staying Jones’ injunction pending its full consideration of the appeal on the merits of the case.

It also granted the opponents’ request to expedite the review but indicated that wouldn't be complete before April.

The Fallon Paiute-Shoshone Tribe and the Center for Biological Diversity won the earlier court order temporarily banning any work on the project they say would turn a “unique, remote desert oasis into an industrial site.”

Ormat said in its appeal last month it might be forced to abandon the project if it couldn’t begin construction by Feb. 28 about 100 miles (160 kilometers) east of Reno.