Industrialization of Western Mojave Desert Continues
Terra-Gen Power has continued its expansive destruction of the western Mojave Desert as it adds nearly 205 wind turbines -- each over 400 feet tall -- replacing and industrializing a Joshua Tree woodland and creosote bush habitat on over 15 square miles. The expansion adds to Alta Wind Energy Center, which is one of the largest of a slew of wind projects approved or under construction in the area. Kern County approved the project despite concerns raised by residents and conservationists, adding to over 100 square miles of approved wind projects in the area. The massive wind projects pose a threat to California Condors and Golden Eagles, and require miles of wide access roads carved into the desert, fragmenting and destroying habitat.
But the impact goes beyond the ecological. These are landscapes that we cherish and enjoy. It can be a traumatic experience to see a peaceful stretch of desert transformed into an industrial zone. The desert we love is already under burden by human-induced climate change, but the solution is not to destroy it for wind and solar. We have not even tapped the potential for more sustainable clean energy options -- energy efficiency programs, rooftop solar, or other solar facilities on already-disturbed lands. Why are we destroying our wildlands?
Kern County also approved the North Sky River wind energy project, just north of the Alta Wind Energy Center. The Sierra Club, Center for Biological Diversity, and Defenders of Wildlife are challenging Kern County and the Department of Interior in court for approving the North Sky River project, citing a faulty environmental review process that downplayed impacts on wildlife. Not far from the site of the North Sky River wind project is the Pine Tree wind energy project, which has already killed at least eight Golden Eagles, according to the US Fish and Wildlife Service.
|The photo below taken by a resident of Mojave, California, shows a Joshua Tree tossed aside by construction activities as new access roads and turbine pads are bulldozed to make way for heavy equipment.|
|Another photo taken by a resident of Mojave, California showing the tragic end of a Joshua Tree for the Alta Wind Energy Center.|
|A vegetation map, showing the different types of desert habitat that will be affected for just part of the Alta Wind Infill II project in Kern County.|