Conservationists oppose passage of desert race through national monument
Plans to have a desert race run through a national monument have hit a snag after conservationists claimed it was tacitly approved.
The environmental campaigners have approached the White House Council on Environmental Quality, asking it to intervene and stop the highly anticipated off-road project that begins near Las Vegas and ends up at Reno.
The environmentalists are accusing the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) for tacit approval of the race course that runs through the Basin and Range Monument.
"BLM is playing fast and loose with its legal obligations in order to let hundreds of vehicles roar through the fragile desert before the monument's protections can be solidified,” said Jeff Ruch, Executive Director of the Public Employees for Environmental Ethics.
He added that this race would be in violation of the National Environmental Policy Pact and would pose a threat to the 1,100-square monument designated by President Obama last June in his letter addressed to Sally Jewel, the Interior Secretary under whose docket BLM falls, and Christy Goldfuss, Managing Director of the Council on Environmental Quality.
BLM has also been accused of having acted in bad faith for failing to notify the public and concerned parties or provide environmental reviews of the plans on how the two-day race will be run.
However, BLM denied having received any formal complaint from PEER via Rudy Evenson, the bureau’s spokesman. Acknowledging that indeed BLM was assessing the environmental impact of the race, Evenson did not immediately respond to the criticism but said that a BLM official would respond as soon as possible.
The off-road desert race scheduled for August 19-20 is being billed as the longest ever in the United States.
It remains to be seen how BLM will respond to the criticism, and the kind of actions the White House Council on Environmental Quality will take.
Published by Green Jobs Online - 14th June 2016