BLM approves Calico Solar Power project; CEC Decision Pending

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) approved the 7.2 square mile Calico Solar power project, which will kill or displace at least 22 desert tortoises, and jeopardize the future of a rare desert wildflower called the white margined beardtongue.  The California Energy Commission is expected to issue its approval for the project later this month. 

In other news, construction workers at the Ivanpah Solar Energy Generating System in the northeastern Mojave Desert have found 17 desert tortoises so far.  Most of the tortoises will likely lose their homes (burrows) as the crews continue to bulldoze the desert habitat for facility, which will be operated by BrightSource Energy.


  1. From a Rockhound

    Calico Solar Project Eats Jasper Hill Collecting Site

    If you want to find where the new Tessera Solar - Calico Solar Project will be built, just pickup your copy of Gem Trails of Southern California and turn to Jasper Hill in Region II, Site 35, thats on page 94 & 95 in my copy. The Calico Solar Project will be between 7,000 to 8,230 acres of once public lands.

    Soon to be protected by locked access gates, security fencing, 24-hour site security monitoring, closed-circuit television cameras and armed security vehicular patrols. If you think that sounds like fiction, read the BLM & CEC Staff Report of March 2010 Executive Summary.

    I Keep looking at the map from the BLM webpage and thinking we lost our public access. It wasn't lost by any environmental legislation in congress to save and protect the Mojave Desert. This public access was lost due to the current explosion of Renewable Energy Development Projects in our California Mojave Desert.


  2. Why is there not a single mention of the good that will result from the project? It's unfortunate that some members of an endangered species will die, but it's a step towards reducing dependence on oil. If you think some fenced-off stationary panels in the desert is "industrializing" a natural habitat, what do you call drilling for oil in the artic?


  3. Rick,
    Thank you for your comment. I do not deny that renewable energy cuts down greenhouse gases that are harming the Mojave ecosystem as much as they are the harming the arctic. But just because solar energy is cleaner than oil or coal does not make it right to pull out hundreds of square miles of public land and sensitive ecosystems. If we're going to make a smart move in our energy consumption, why are we turning to another destructive means when (ironically) the sun shines elsewhere -- not just on pristine desert tortoise habitat. Roofs, parking lots, fallow agricultural land. I am arguing that we should be siting renewable energy in places where it is less destructive. I am not arguing against solar.

    These solar companies do not need another cheerleader. They need someone to point out a better path.

  4. Absolutely right Shaun.

    The Wildlands Conservancy put out a press release in March of this year, pointing out that they had found 228,000 acres of disturbed, distressed privately owned land with landowners willing to sell, land near transmission----

    I guess the lure of the almost free federal land nearly 100% subsidized by the taxpayers is too much to resist.


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