Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Ivanpah's Last Summer

For a great write-up by Chris Clarke (and a beautiful photo by Laura Cunningham), visit Coyote Crossing.  Mr. Clarke draws a parallel between the willingness of environmental groups to sell out pristine and threatened desert habitat for the sake of "green energy," and a poor decision by the Sierra Club decades ago when it acquiesced to the Bureau of Reclamation's inundation of Glen Canyon  by constructing a dam there.

While I have written on the California Energy Commission's imposition of mitigation fees on energy companies proposing to build on good quality desert habitat, the damage to the Mojave and Colorado Deserts will ultimately be irreparable.  Every poor decision made by energy companies, and approved by policymakers, will fragment our deserts until what remains is an industrial corridor with small pockets of desert that cannot sustain the rich diversity of life one can encounter in the desert now.  Watching a desert tortoise forage for wildflowers in the morning, or waking up to coyotes howling will be something we pass on to future generations with a museum exhibit rather than a camping trip. 

What can be done?

--You can make your voice heard during the public comment period for the CEC's and BLM's permitting process, which energy companies must go through in order to pave over the desert.  I have a post that gives some background on this, but basically you need to be aware of what energy projects are proposed and where they are in the permitting process (if you have questions, just send me an email at boundless.liberty@gmail.com)

--You should let any organizations you belong to--such as the Sierra Club, the Nature Conservancy, Defenders of Wildlife, etc--know that you care about pristine wilderness in the California Deserts and you do not want to give it up for poorly sited renewable energy.  Let them know specifically that you are opposed to projects like Ivanpah, and Calico Solar power projects.

--Write letters to local officials, such as the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors, and local city councils for population centers in the deserts, that you appreciate open space and the value pristine habitat can bring to the area (increased property values, hikers, campers, etc).

--Write your congressperson and Senators and tell them you support the California Desert Protection Act of 2010.  It may not be perfect legislation, but it will permanently protect thousands of acres of desert habitat in the State, sparing it from the gold rush of energy development.

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