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Showing posts with the label CBD

How Much is Too Much Heat for Birds?

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In testimony submitted in advance of California Energy Commission (CEC) evidentiary hearings scheduled for the end of this month, the CEC staff estimates that the impact of heated air above BrightSource's proposed Palen hybrid solar and natural gas project may result in as much as 2.5 times more bird deaths than at the BrightSource's Ivanpah hybrid project (I use the term "hybrid" because Ivanpah will burn nearly 525 million standard cubic feet  of natural gas, annually.  Palen will burn at least 728 million standard cubic feet of gas, annually.  Unlike photovoltaic solar projects, BrightSource's power tower design needs fossil fuels to warm up the boilers that also convert the sun's energy into electricity).
BrightSource has argued that birds are only at risk of death from solar flux (air heated by the concentration of the solar mirror field) in the air space close to the power tower where the heat is most intense.  CEC staff, however, assesses that birds a…

Audubon California Joins Groups Opposing Federal Condor Decision

Audubon California released a statement opposing the Federal decision to allow a wind energy company to kill a California condor.
“Unfortunately, a series of decisions, large and small, over the last several years have brought these turbines to the doorstep of one of America’s most iconic species, and in this process we arrive at a point where the federal agency tasked with protecting the condor says it’s OK to take one, that we have to choose between two good things — renewable energy and wildlife protection.

“We fundamentally reject that choice. Given the continual technological improvements coming online, the American public has every reason to expect that we can develop renewable energy and ensure that condors will not be killed.” - Audubon California Audubon California joins other groups expressing concern about the decision, including the American Bird Conservancy and Center for Biological Diversity.  Many environmentalists know that there is a difference between energy developme…

Another Golden Eagle Killed by Industry

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Basin and Range Watch learned from the Bureau of Land Management that another golden eagle was killed, this time at the Spring Valley Wind project built in Nevada's Great Basin desert.  The project -- owned by Pattern Energy -- was built on remote desert wildlands despite concerns from environmental organizations that it could jeopardize a large population of Mexican free-tailed bats.  Spring Valley Wind began operations last year. The wind project is only permitted to kill one eagle, and another eagle death could require the project to curtail operations, although enforcement and compliance are doubtful.

The golden eagle death in Nevada occurs less than two months after NextEra's North Sky River wind project in California killed its first golden eagle, only weeks after beginning operations in the Tehachapi Mountains.  The North Sky River wind project industrialized potential California condor habitat, and was built despite objections from environmental groups (Defenders of Wi…

Hidden Hills Solar: Chorus of Concern Grows

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As BrightSource Energy's construction hums along at its Ivanpah Solar project site in the northeastern Mojave Desert, the company's proposed Hidden Hills Solar project further north is being scrutinized as the California Energy Commission (CEC) accepts comments on a preliminary staff assessment of the project's potential impacts.  As noted earlier on this blog, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) was one of the first to note some serious deficiencies in the CEC's staff assessment, with a focus on the project's demand for scarce groundwater supplies.  Since then, several other parties--including Native American tribes, the National Park Service, Center for Biological Diversity, the Nature Conservancy, and the Amargosa Conservancy--have expressed concerns for water and wildlife,  while Inyo County reiterated its expectation that BrightSource Energy compensate it for millions of dollars worth of increased services needed in the remote corner of California where the pr…

Environmentalism for the 1%

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The departure of the Sierra Club's chairman -- Carl Pope -- comes during a dark moment for environmentalism.  The vanguards of the green movement have compromised their core conservation ethic, forging alliances with corporations and ignoring the grassroots in order to make way for an unchecked renewable energy industry that is more intent on destroying public lands than saving them.

A recent Los Angeles Times article highlights how Pope may be a casualty of this attempt to gain influence in Washington and Wall Street, but his approach has been practiced by other national environmental groups,  including the Wilderness Society, NRDC, Center for Biological Diversity, and Defenders of Wildlife.  These groups have desperately sought acceptance among business and political elites, painting themselves as job creators by selling out America's landscapes to big wind and solar firms, and then bragging about the jobs they have supported.  What have they gained? Loss of respect among th…

Progress for the Lane Mountain Milkvetch

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I wrote about the efforts to designate critical habitat for the Lane Mountain Milkvetch (Astragalus jaegerianus) in an earlier blog post.  In a success due largely to the efforts of the Center for Biological Diversity, the US Fish and Wildlife Service listed its final ruling last month declaring over 14,000 acres as protected land for the rare plant.
The primary opponents of the critical habitat designation were some off-highway vehicle (OHV) users who complained that the new protected status would deprive them of recreational activities.   However, thousands of miles of open routes remain available to OHV users on public land, in addition to the El Mirage, Stoddard Wells, and Johnson Valley Off-highway vehicle areas.

Are Environmental Groups Acquiescing to First Solar's Desert Sunlight Project?

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The Department of Interior last month released the final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for First Solar Inc's Desert Sunlight solar power project.  After a final public review of the EIS, the Department of Interior will decide whether or not to grant approval to the project.  According to the EIS, it appears that Washington will give the green light and even use taxpayers' money to finance First Solar's plans to destroy 4,176 acres (nearly 6.5 square miles) of desert habitat, including some desert tortoise critical habitat.  Although national environmental groups have been following these massive solar projects closely, they have been relatively silent about their impacts.  A First Solar representative claimed earlier this year that the company had the support of environmental organizations.  What role does such behind-the-scenes support play, and how does this impact Department of Interior's decision?

Desert Sunlight a Replay of Ivanpah?
Despite having the option…

Center for Biological Diversity Opposes Palen Solar Project

The California Energy Commission (CEC) rejected a petition by the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) opposing the Palen Solar power project.  The CEC approved the project, proposed by Solar Millennium LLC for nearly 8 square miles of the Chuckwalla Valley, in December.  CBD argues that the CEC violated California law when it approved the Palen Solar project before the Department of Interior gave its final approval to the project, which will have direct and indirect impacts on critical habitat and wildlife management areas.  The Commission is under immense political pressure to favor energy companies in its decisions, and has been heavily criticized for bending and breaking laws to permit fast-track solar power projects.

California State public resources code requires that the State not permit any facility on lands designated for wildlife protection until the land management agency has approved the project.  According to Interior's website for the project, Federal approval has n…