Scandal-Plagued Company Holding Ceremony; Governor and Salazar to Attend

German company Solar Millennium LLC and its American front "Solar Trust of America" are holding a groundbreaking ceremony for the Blythe Solar power project tomorrow, which California Governor Jerry Brown and Secretary of Interior Kenneth Salazar plan to attend.  Their attendance is surprising since the 11 square mile project is under scrutiny for financial misconduct and destruction of sacred Native American sites.  

Germany began investigating Solar Millennium after uncovering reports that an executive was paid 9 million Euros (about 12.5 million dollars) after working only 74 days at the company, and other board members are under investigation for embezzlement Despite the scandal, Solar Millennium's project is still on track to receive over 2.1 billion dollars in loans and an 18 million dollar grant from the Federal government (courtesy of the taxpayer).

Department of the Interior's approval of the Blythe Solar power project allows the company to bulldoze about 11 square miles of public land, and clears the way for them to receive taxpayer-backed financial assistance.
Solar Millennium began initial construction on the site earlier this year, destroying some sacred geoglyphs (rock formations depicting deities) and prompting demonstrations form concerned citizens.  The California Energy Commission and Department of Interior approved the project last year, acknowledging the significant impacts the project would have on cultural resources, but deciding that the benefits of the project were necessary.  Citizens have asked the government to focus renewable energy efforts on rooftop solar, instead of destructive projects such as Blythe.

Desert Ironwood trees, some as old as 1,000 years old, thrive on the site.  As of June, some have already been bulldozed to make way for construction access roads. Photo by Basin and Range Watch.

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