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Showing posts with the label Searchlight

Southern Nevada Wildlands Get Temporary Reprieve

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A Federal judge recently ruled against the Bureau of Land Management's approval of the Searchlight Wind project because the BLM did not adequately analyze potential impacts on golden eagles, bats and desert tortoises, according to Basin & Range Watch.  The BLM initially approved of the Searchlight Wind project in 2013 based on poor quality wildlife surveys paid for by the developer.  The original impact analysis considered only three golden eagle nests within a ten-mile radius of the wind project, even though a separate study funded by the BLM found as many as ten nests.

Apex Clean Energy - the project developer - and the BLM may decide to redo some of the environmental analysis that the court found to be lacking.  However, it would be wiser if Nevada and its neighbors focused investments on energy efficiency, and implemented policies that encourage distributed, locally-controlled renewable energy generation and battery storage.

This stretch of southern Nevada is relative…

Four Mojave Wind Projects Begin Early Environmental Review

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At least four separate wind projects in the Mojave Desert are in the early stages of environmental review, according to the Bureau of Land Management's (BLM) land records database, and would industrialize over 76 square miles of intact desert and ridgeline if they receive final approval.   Energy companies are interested in several other swaths of the Mojave, but are only evaluating the strength of wind resources or have not taken significant steps toward environmental review.

Laurel Mountain Wind

L.H. Renewables, LLC, A Redlands-based corporate entity registered to a post office box, has submitted a plan of development for the Laurel Mountain wind project, which would involve installing as many as 130 wind turbines on nearly 40 square miles of intact desert west of Ridgecrest.  The company has been testing wind resources in the area for years, and as of early November the BLM initiated environmental review under the National Environmental Policy Act.  

The Laurel Mountain wind pr…

Interior Approves More Desert Destruction; Ignores Sustainable Alternatives

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The Department of Interior yesterday announced final approval for three poorly sited renewable energy projects in America's southwestern deserts that will destroy and industrialize nearly 40 square miles of public lands -- an area larger than the island of Manhattan, and almost as much land area as the City of San Francisco.  None of this destruction is necessary since renewable energy can be more efficiently and more sustainably located in our cities or on already-disturbed lands.

As KCET reported, California has installed 1,500 megawatts of rooftop solar -- an energy output nearly equivalent to three Reid Gardner coal plants.  Elsewhere, solar companies are building hundreds of megawatts of solar on already-disturbed lands, such as agricultural fields.  Renewable energy offers us the alternative to preserve wildlands, but the Department of Interior ignored this alternative when it approved the following three projects:

Searchlight Wind
The Searchlight Wind project will be built …

BLM Signals Approval for Searchlight Wind Project Despite Objections

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The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) last month issued the final environmental impact statement for Duke Energy's Searchlight Wind energy project, signaling initial approval for the company to industrialize nearly 29 square miles of Mojave Desert habitat near the small town of Searchlight, Nevada. Once the Department of Interior signs the record of decision -- expected early this year -- Duke Energy will transform this peaceful corner of the desert with 87 wind turbines (each standing taller than the Statue of Liberty) 35 miles of new gravel roads, and 16 miles of new transmission and collector lines, according to the BLM assessment. Construction will require over 9,000 trips by diesel trucks, and tons of cement and steel.

Potential Impacts on Wildlife Are Extensive
The area targeted by Duke Energy for the project is full of creosote bushes and Mojave yucca that can be hundreds of years old, and is surrounded by the Piute - El Dorado Critical Habitat Unit for the threatened deser…

Southern Nevada Wildlands Face Industrial Transformation

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By 2020, Nevadans may not recognize the once open wildlands they enjoy outside of Las Vegas, as renewable energy corporations backed by Wall Street have proposed to industrialize roughly 410 square miles of desert habitat in nearly every scenic vista within an hour's drive of the metropolis.
A slew of solar companies have applied, or have been approved to construct 19 solar facilities in desert valleys, each consuming several square miles of land.  Wind companies, on the other hand, are exploring options to build 6 different facilities, and the average project would fragment and industrialize over 27 square miles of desert mountains and foothills of southern Nevada.  Transmission lines constitute the third greatest threat to wild lands, as utility companies plan to add dozens of miles of new transmission lines across the region to connect new solar and wind projects to the grid. Doubling Vegas' Sprawl If all of the projects are constructed,  energy companies will have destroyed …

Take Action on the Searchlight Wind Energy Project

The BLM is currently accepting public comments on the draft environmental impact statement for the the Searchlight Wind energy project, which would industrialize nearly 30 square miles of ecologically intact desert habitat in southern Nevada.  The wind turbines will pose a risk to raptors and migratory birds, the construction of new roads will kill or displace dozens of threatened desert tortoises and pose a continuing risk to the species through increased off-road vehicle activity.

Public comments are due no later than 18 April to the BLM.  For guidance and suggested talking points to use to craft your own comments, check out Basin and Range Watch's page here.

BLM Continues Review of Searchlight Wind Project

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The BLM later this month may release a preliminary environmental impact review for Duke Energy's proposed wind project near Searchlight, Nevada, according to Basin and Range Watch.  The project's monstrous proportions would industrialize 38 square miles of desert landscapes with up to 140 wind turbines.  Each turbine would be over 400 feet tall -- that is over 100 feet taller than the Statue of Liberty.  The turbines would pose a threat to hawks, eagles and other bird life in the area, and would require miles of new roads etched into the valleys and hillsides.   You can find beautiful photos of the area, including wildlife and landscapes, at this website put up by Basin and Range Watch.

The amount of land that will be transformed by the project is difficult to fathom.  The Google Earth image below shows an overlay of the proposed project footprint on Las Vegas.  If the same project were built in Las Vegas, it would stretch from McCarran International Airport in the south to Nor…

Massive Searchlight Wind Project a Danger to Desert Birds

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I've written a lot about energy companies rushing to build massive solar facilities in America's deserts --mostly on pristine habitat that is home to a variety of rare plant and wildlife.  Wind projects also threaten these ecosystems, including the proposed Searchlight Wind project to be built by Duke Energy in Nevada.  Even though wind energy projects may not require as much ground disturbance as solar energy facilities, the spinning blades have been proven to kill rare bat species, golden eagles, vultures, and other birds. 

The Searchlight Project, near the town of Searchlight, would place up to 160 giant wind turbines on up to 14 square miles of public land.  At least 40 miles of new roads will scar the area to reach each turbine.   Basin and Range Watch has covered the proposal extensively on its website, and they also provide some beautiful photos of the area.

The danger to desert birds is real, but most people tend to think wind energy farms are "environmentally f…