The US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) initially estimated that 32 desert tortoises live on the site and would require translocation from the site. If the construction crews have already encountered nearly half that number when a substantial portion of the project site has not even been touched, the initial USFWS estimates are likely inaccurate. Therefore, the impact of the Ivanpah Solar project may have been improperly assessed in the BLM's and California Energy Commission's environmental reviews.
As mentioned in a previous post, the impact of the project on the long-term viability of the endangered species has likely been downplayed by the CEC and BLM at the risk of neglecting their obligation under the Endangered Species Act.
|Image from CEC Staff assessment for Calico Solar power project|
If these vanguards of the environmental movement let the Ivanaph Solar project, or the equally destructive Calico Solar power project slide, they are setting a precedent of allowing destructive utility-scale solar projects. These projects alone will displace or kill at least 50 endangered desert tortoises (according to USFWS estimates that already appear to be underestimates). They will block wildlife corridors, and jeopardize the future of already rare desert wildflowers. The silence of the Sierra Club and Center for Biological Diversity is tantamount to complicity.
These same organizations encouraged utility-scale solar as a rushed solution to global warming. It is not a solution, it is a destructive shortcut. It is also unsustainable. As of August, the BLM had registered 64 renewable energy projects, amounting to 569,802 acres. That is nearly 890 square miles of public land being claimed by big energy companies for so-called "green" energy, essentially dooming the California desert to industrialization.
The map below--from the CEC assessment of the Calico Solar power project--shows proposed solar and wind energy applications in Southern California as of earlier this year. Unless the Federal Government and groups pushing the wrong brand of "green" energy come to their senses, nearly every vista in California's desert will be scarred by industrial development, and wildlife and plant life will be degraded over time by the fragmentation of habitat.