by Logan Finney, Idaho Reports
The Idaho House unanimously passed a resolution Monday expressing opposition to a large wind energy project that is planned on public lands in the Magic Valley.
Rep. Jack Nelsen, R-Jerome, presented House Concurrent Resolution 4, which encourages Attorney General Raúl Labrador and Gov. Brad Little to review the project and assure the state’s interests.
“In my life, I’ve never seen my community as plain old grumpy mad,” Nelsen said.
The Lava Ridge Wind Project is proposed on public lands in Jerome, Lincoln, and Minidoka counties.
Nelsen said beyond the physical impact, the community is concerned about 700 temporary construction workers coming into the area, only for the operational facility to produce about 20 permanent jobs.
“The concern is that the massive amount of federal dollars behind this are going to put people– just price them out of the market,” Nelsen said.
Rep. Clay Handy, R-Burley, recused himself from the vote because his trucking business hauls construction materials.
The resolution against the massive wind project received bipartisan support as lawmakers took issue with the generated power being sent to the highest bidder – most likely out of state.
“We only generate 50% of our energy needs in Idaho,” said Rep. John Gannon, D-Boise. “We didn’t want to become a water reservoir for another state… We shouldn’t become an energy farm for another state either.”
The federal Bureau of Land Management is accepting public comments on its draft environmental impact statement until March 21.
“Even my county commissioners are in objection to this,” said Rep. Ned Burns, D-Bellevue, referring to the traditionally Democratic stronghold of Blaine County.
Idaho Republican Party chairwoman Dorothy Moon spoke out against the project in a column on Friday and encouraged Idaho residents to submit public comments in opposition.
“Our people, our lands, and our economy is disrupted so a bunch of folks in Silicon Valley can satisfy the demands of their own silly green energy requirements. No thank you,” Moon wrote.
The legislation now moves to the Senate. Unlike a regular bill, a legislative resolution does not need approval from the governor.
Logan Finney | Associate Producer
Logan Finney is a North Idaho native with a passion for media production and boring government meetings. He grew up skiing, hunting and hiking in the mountains of Bonner County and has maintained a lifelong interest in the state’s geography, history and politics. Logan joined the Idaho Reports team in 2020 as a legislative session intern and stayed to cover the COVID-19 pandemic. He was hired as an associate producer in 2021 and they haven’t been able to get rid of him since.