Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Salazar Visits Ivanpah

Secretary Salazar today visited the Ivanpah Valley to view the construction of First Solar's Silver State solar project.  Department of Interior has only approved the first phase so far -- little less than a square mile -- but First Solar has asked for Secretary Salazar's blessing to expand the project to over 10 square miles in a second phase. If this is approved,  First Solar's project would kill or displace endangered plant and wildlife, and block a north-south wildlife corridor connecting desert habitat in Nevada with the Mojave National Preserve to the south in California.  First Solar also wants to build another facility in the Ivanpah Valley -- the Stateline solar project -- which would decimate up to 3.4 square miles of habitat for the threatened desert tortoise.

It's unfortunate that Secretary Salazar and First Solar think they are doing the country a favor by destroying beautiful public land when we can generate clean energy and create green jobs much more efficiently with spaces available to us in the cities.  Conservationists have proposed designating some of the Ivanpah Valley as an Area of Critical Environmental Concern, in order to preserve an important wildlife corridor and one of the most successful remaining desert tortoise populations.

Click on image to expand.  This Google Earth image shows the three solar projects proposed or under construction in the Ivanpah Valley.  First Solar is building the first phase of Silver State North (upper right), which Secretary Salazar visited today.  First Solar plans to expand that to over 10 square-miles, as depicted in the image. Just left of the dry lake bed is First Solar's proposal for the Stateline solar power project, which would destroy another 3.4 square miles of prime desert tortoise habitat.  Further west is the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System (ISEGS), which is being built by Brightsource Energy on 5.6 square miles of public land, and is projected to kill or displace hundreds of tortoises since it is high quality habitat.

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