Medicine Lake

The US Department of the Interior is set to decide by November 1 whether to reverse a Clinton-era denial of geothermal development in the Medicine Lake Highlands, a caldera sacred to the Modoc, Shasta, Pit River and other Native American tribes.
In May 2000, regulators denied energy giant Calpine’s application to build geothermal plants at the Highlands’ Telephone Flat; Calpine quickly filed a $100 million takings suit against the
government. In February 2002, a settlement forced regulators to reconsider the denial. If the denial stands, Calpine will pursue the takings suit, says Bureau of Land Management (BLM) project manager Sean Haggerty, and “let the best attorneys win.”
In a hint of how its parent agency might rule, Haggerty’s BLM has already permitted Calpine to build a pipe from an approved exploratory project nearby, send geothermal brine through it, and dump it in old wells at Telephone Flat, despite its protection within a US Traditional Cultural District.
“It’s a broken promise, ” said Michelle Berdistchevsky of the Native Coalition for Medicine Lake Highlands Defense. “Reopening this decision is an issue not only of the sacredness of Medicine Lake Highlands, but also of the relationship of the government to Native Americans.”

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