Ivanpah Wildlife, Visual Resources and Botany Hearings Completed

According to someone testifying to protect rare natural resources in the Mojave Desert at the California Energy Commission (CEC) evidentiary hearings for the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System (ISEGS), the 11 January CEC hearing for the Ivanpah Solar Energy site lasted until nearly 10:30pm, and covered visual resources and the impacts on wildlife.  Today's hearing was scheduled to address botanical resources, which may present the greatest challenge to the CEC and BLM's consideration of granting right-of-way to BrightSource Energy, since the site selected by BrightSource happens to host several sensitive and rare plants.

The CEC Staff rebuttal to comments from environmental groups and BrightSource Energy spent considerable time addressing arguments requesting alternative site considerations and changes to the mitigation efforts directed at special status plant species. Most environmental inervenors argued for more effective measures to ensure that construction at Ivanpah avoided special status plants, and BrightSource argued that such avoidance measures would be too costly.

In the 4 January rebuttal, CEC shared the concerns raised by the California Native Plant Society (CNPS) that BrightSource's construction would alter the hydrology, shading effects on plant reproduction, and soil compaction, but essentially rejected CNPS' proposal for an expanded pre-construction survey, and did not offer meaningful support to a proposal to set aside conservation easements to mitigate for the loss of special status plants at Ivanpah. 

However, the CEC Staff response did concur with adding the small-flowered androstephium to the list of plants that BrightSource should consider--which also includes desert pincushion (pictured below), Rusby's desert mallow, and Mojave milkweed--when crafting its special status plant avoidance and mitigation plan.  As of early January, BrightSource was crafting an alternative plant avoidance and mitigation plan for CEC review. 

Desert Pincushion - one of several special status plants at the Ivanpah site
Photo from www.desertusa.com

Comments

  1. This is great to read more about the Ivanpah project from a different perspective! Having just returned from attending the evidentiary hearings in Sacramento for ISEGS, we are exhausted, but happy to see someone else taking a close look at solar in the desert.

    Keep up the good work!

    Laura Cunningham
    Basin and Range Watch

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you Laura, and thank you and Basin and Range Watch for the time and effort you have devoted to arguing for smarter renewable energy siting decisions!

    ReplyDelete

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