The Sierra Club informed the California Energy Commission's (CEC) that it should not approve the Calico Solar power project given concerns about the impact on desert tortoises on the 7 square mile site. The Sierra Club objected to the rushed nature of the approval process that did not include adequate opportunities for public input, especially when the revised layout was decided between the CEC and Tessera Solar LLC.
According to comments submitted to the CEC and stated during a 22 October evidentiary hearing, the Sierra Club pointed to the unfinished nature of the desert tortoise translocation plan, which the CEC considered sufficient mitigation despite concerns that receptor sites for relocated tortoises would not be adequate. Also, the fact that construction at the Calico Solar site will begin beyond late October could reduce the ability of biologists to find and relocate tortoises since the tortoises likely will be hibernating.
Another very significant point made by the Sierra Club, the CEC approved the project without considering the impacts of a 67 mile transmission line that will be necessary in order to bring the project online. The transmission line will likely cut through more desert tortoise habitat and areas of critical environmental concern. By approving the project without considering the unavoidable impacts of a transmission line, the CEC was committing itself to the damages the transmission line will bring without considering those consequences.