Tuesday, December 22, 2009

California Desert Protection Act of 2010

Senator Feinstein's office released more details on her proposal to create two national monuments in the Mojave Desert on her official site.  In the press release, the Senator lays out policy implementation that balances the need to preserve desert wilderness,  and scenic vistas along the iconic and Historic Route 66, and reconciling this with the need to make the renewable energy siting question more efficient. The California Desert Protection Act of 2010 summary also lays out plans to designate an additional 250,000 acres of wilderness area on lands previously designated as wilderness study areas.


The plan is already receiving some negative attention, however, most notably from environmentalist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. in a New York Times interview.  Kennedy also happens to have a financial stake in solar energy development as an investor in Brightsource Energy.  In the interview Kennedy slams Feinstein for taking "land off the table without a proper and scientific environmental review."  Presumably Kennedy is referring to the same scientific review process that is green-lighting Brightsource Energy's Ivanpah project, despite the fact that it will endanger a unique desert tortoise population and mow over several rare plant species.  The economic climate is such that a "proper scientific process" that involves layers of local, state, and federal bureaucracy is likely to favor near-term economic development over the long-term preservation of America's natural heritage and dwindling wilderness.

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