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Showing posts with the label REAT

The DRECP: To Protect or Undo the Desert?

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The Department of Interior this week will unveil the draft Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP), and it is a big deal.  The DRECP will establish "development focus areas" where the review and approval of large-scale renewable energy projects will be streamlined, and will identify other lands for additional conservation measures.  How much of each - destruction and conservation - and which lands will be affected will be revealed in the draft later this week. 

The DRECP is a big deal because it will propose the most significant changes to how we manage the California desert since Congress first ordered Interior to take better care of the of these lands decades ago.  In 1976, Congress passed the Federal Land Policy and Management Act that ordered Interior to establish the California Desert Conservation Area Plan (CDCA) "to provide for the immediate and future protection and administration of the public lands in the California desert within the framework of a …

California Desert Policy Makeover Nears Release

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Updated to include correct version of Alternative 3 map

California's deserts are about to undergo the most sweeping land management policy transformation since the California Desert Conservation Area Plan was implemented in 1980, which itself was a response to Federal legislation passed in 1976.  The Renewable Energy Action Team -- a Federal and State of California inter-agency cohort formed to facilitate utility-scale solar and wind projects in the California desert while attempting to protect habitat and wildlife -- issued a series of documents in December that outline the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP). The documents provide more details on potential conservation measures and "development focus areas," which would significantly alter land designations for millions of acres in the California Desert Conservation Area.  The documents released do not identify which of the six action alternatives is favored by the REAT agencies, however, keeping us in …

Two Reports Highlight Ecological Importance of Ivanpah Valley

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Two separate reports from the Nature Conservancy and the Renewable Energy Action Team indicate that the Ivanpah Valley is important to the ecological health of the Mojave Desert, suggesting the area is not suitable for destructive solar facilities.  The Ivanpah Valley is currently the focus of concerned citizens since at least three massive solar facilities could destroy over 20 square miles of pristine desert in the area, and displace or kill hundreds of endangered desert tortoises.  Many argue that rooftop solar installations--not remote facilities on public land--should be the centerpiece of renewable energy policy.
Solar facilities targeting the Ivanpah Valley:
Ivanpah Solar Energy Generating System: Under construction by BrightSource Energy LLC, NRG, and Bechtel, with financing from Google. (5.6 square miles)Stateline Solar power project: Proposed by First Solar LLC (3.4 square miles)Silver State North and South: Proposed by First Solar LLC. BLM approved a portion of the project. …

New Report Suggests Energy Siting On Wrong Path

Thanks to our friends at Basin and Range Watch, and Coyote Crossing for highlighting a report compiled by independent experts regarding the impact of energy development on California's deserts.   The report was prepared by the Independent Science Advisors as part of California's Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP).   The DRECP is intended to create a science-based process for reviewing and permitting renewable energy projects in the desert, and would provide a framework for implementing regionally coordinated land acquisition and mitigation to off-set the negative effects of the energy "gold rush" that threatens to turn California's deserts into an industrial zone.   The Renewable Energy Action Team (REAT), which this blog has previously described, is the multi-agency body that will implement the DRECP.

The full report, which you can find at the DRECP website, supports the development of renewable energy sources in order to limit greenhouse gas …

Renewable Energy Action Team Fund Established

An inter-agency forum known as the Renewable Energy Action Team (REAT) seeking to streamline the renewable energy permitting process in California has succeeded in establishing a fund to centralize conservation funds that offset the impact of energy development.  The REAT is composed of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), California Department of Fish and Game (DFG), and the California Energy Commission (CEC), as I noted in a previous post on the topic.  Among the policy tools REAT hopes to implement is the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan, which would provide a framework for implementing regionally coordinated land acquisition and mitigation to off-set the negative affects of the renewable energy rush on desert biological resources.  The DRECP is not expect to be completed until 2012, however.

One of the REAT's policy goals was to establish a central fund to which renewable energy developers would pay their required mitigation fees--…

Renewable Energy Action Team: Good Intentions but How Soon?

The recently published Staff Assessment and Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Blythe Solar project provides some insight to the Renewable Energy Action Team (REAT), which is the inter-agency task force addressing expedited renewable energy permitting process and environmental mitigation.   The REAT consists of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), California Department of Fish and Game (DFG), and the California Energy Commission (CEC).  If this inter-agency team can implement its policy tools quickly enough, it could have a positive effect on efforts to mitigate damage done by industrial-scale energy development in the desert, but the current proposed schedule for REAT calls this into question.

In order to achieve the goal of expedited renewable energy permitting while preserving sensitive habitat and species in California's deserts, the REAT plans to produce a Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP).  According to the CEC Staff…