Posts

Desert Wildlands Need Your Voice in Vegas

Image
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is hosting two public meetings on plans to mow down nearly 11 square miles of intact desert wildlands to build the Gemini Solar power project, which would be located northeast of Las Vegas along the entrance road to Valley of Fire State Park.  It will be very important for concerned citizens to attend because most environmental groups have taken a muted stance on the project, even though it is expected to displace up to 260 desert tortoises, and wipe out beavertail and silver cholla cacti, burrowing owl nesting locations and imperil a rare plant found in only a few places in the Mojave.

Any member of the public is welcome to attend the meetings, and public comment sessions are during the last hour of each session:

Public Meeting #1 - Las Vegas
When: Tuesday, July 23rd, 5:00 - 8:00 PM
Where: Suncoast Hotel and Casino, 9090 Alta Dr, Las Vegas, NV 89145

Public Meeting #2 - Moapa
When:Wednesday, July 24th, 5:30 - 8:30 PM
Where:Moapa Community Center, 1340 Ea…

How Can We Ensure a Green Implementation of the Green New Deal?

Image
Green New Deal proposals and policy discussions often sound like a smorgasbord of different issues.  You hear about job creation, counteracting inequities that have impacted underrepresented communities, research and development, agriculture, transportation, and the list goes on.   Rightly so; the environmental problems of today rest on a complicated, interlocking puzzle of social, technological, and economic problems.   But the underlying goal of any Green New Deal is the dramatic expansion of the renewable energy sector.  That raises a prickly question: how do we do that and protect the environment at the same time? A recent UC Davis/Center for Biological Diversity study led by Dr. Rebecca Hernandez highlighted perhaps the greatest challenge we will face in implementing a Green New Deal:
"Achieving a rapid transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources on planet Earth to support human activities, in a manner benign to Earth’s life support systems, is arguably the gran…

Green Groups Silent as Solar Company Plans Destruction of Mojave Wildlands

Image
The Department of Interior in early June released its draft environmental review indicating that plans to replace 11 square miles of intact desert wildlands in southern Nevada with the Gemini Solar project would result in significant impacts on wildlife and outdoor recreation.   The project proposed by Arevia Power would install photovoltaic solar panels on land that is currently home to rare plants, desert kit fox, tortoises and other wildlife.  Photovoltaic solar panels are just as easily installed on rooftops, parking lot canopies, and on already-disturbed lands, calling in to question the need to sacrifice desert wildlands to generate electricity. (California has installed over 8,000 megawatts of distributed solar generation with relatively modest policy incentives.)

Arevia Power's plans to destroy these Mojave wildlands will displace or kill nearly at least 260 desert tortoises, and dozens of kit foxes and burrowing owls, according to the draft environmental impact stateme…

Nevada Ballot Measure a Catch-22 for the Mojave

Image
"As we focus on climate change, we must also act decisively to protect the living world while we still have time. It would be humanity’s ultimate achievement." - E.O. Wilson Nevada is poised to vote on whether to increase its renewable portfolio standard (RPS) - the share of electricity required to come from renewable sources - to 50% by the year 2030, without any plan for protecting Nevada's increasingly vulnerable wildlands. An increased RPS without corresponding plans to protect wildlands is sure to spur a second rush of solar and wind projects, but continuing to burn fossil fuels will compound the ongoing harmful effects of climate change on that same landscape.  A more sensible path - providing stronger incentives for solar on rooftops and over parking lots and diverting larger projects to already-disturbed lands - has eluded the state's policymakers and environmental groups. 
The ballot measure - Question 6 - will essentially authorize Nevada's…

Trump Proposes Fracking in Western Mojave

Image
The Trump administration is proposing to open up hundreds of square miles of western Mojave slopes and central California grasslands to hydraulic fracturing (also known as fracking).  Oil and gas companies' fracking technique involves injecting thousands of gallons of toxic fluids into the ground to break open pockets of fossil fuels.  Not only do these fluids contaminate groundwater supplies, allowing fracking will also make it more profitable for oil and gas companies to industrialize vast swaths of grassland, Joshua tree woodland, and oak woodland to energy exploration.


Oil and gas fracking in this area would bring miles of access roads, well pads, and evaporation ponds containing toxic chemicals harmful to wildlife. Not to mention the additional greenhouse gas emissions that such drilling would enable, worsening the ongoing impacts of climate change on wildlife and humans alike. 

Particularly hard hit would be the wildlands north of Tehachapi stretching all the …

Gemini Solar Project Threatens Vibrant Ecosystem

Image
The Gemini Solar project proposed for desert wildlands next to the Valley of Fire State Park could displace or kill over 260 desert tortoises and dozens of kit foxes, American badgers and western burrowing owls, according to recently released wildlife surveys (1, 2). Climate change poses an urgent threat to these same wildlife, but it is inexcusable to bulldoze wildlands to install the same solar panels that can just as easily be installed on rooftops or already-disturbed lands.  If we are destroying wildlands to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, then we are perpetuating the stunningly short-sighted sacrifice of nature to continue feeding otherwise unsustainable consumption, despite readily available options that have much lower impact on wildlife.


Wildlife Surveys Highlight Poor Location Choice for Solar Project

Biologists conducted two surveys in 2018 and 2017 and discovered that the proposed Gemini Solar project site currently hosts a diverse array of wildlife.  Based on the surveys,…

Nevada Outdoor Enthusiasts and Conservation Groups Losing Ground

Image
Nevadans are poised to lose access to hundreds of square miles of desert and mountain wildlands over the next few years, and elected officials appear to be looking the other way.  The crush of proposals to convert desert and mountain wildlands into sprawling solar and wind facilities, natural gas drilling fields, expanded military bases, and urban sprawl has left outdoor enthusiasts' efforts divided as they chase each individual threat.  When desert communities in neighboring California faced a similar onslaught, the chorus of concern prompted policy changes at the local, State and Federal level to better guide development and protect desert wildlands and rural areas. No such rescue effort appears on the horizon in Nevada.

Nevada's wildlands are treasured by hikers, backcountry 4x4 groups, hunters, campers, astronomers, photographers, wildlife-watchers, mountain bikers, rockhounds and a myriad of others.  The outdoor experience they cherish is one of vast landscapes where…