Will the Sierra Club Step up to the Plate?

According to Reuters, the Sierra Club claims it is still considering whether or not to challenge Tessera Solar LLC's proposed Calico Solar power project.  If built, the project would destroy 7.2 square miles of pristine desert that is home to at least 18 desert tortoises and impact surrounding habitat where dozens more tortoises have been observed.  The site is also home to rare plants, Western burrowing owls, and Mojave fringe-toed lizard, and would block a wildlife corridor for bighorn sheep.

Although the Sierra Club has been involved in the permit process for several destructive solar power projects, the Club has not yet taken legal action to block them.   The Sierra Club positions itself as a leader in renewable energy, but the group is only now considering taking legal action to steer energy companies in the right direction.  There is plenty of room for solar panels on disturbed land and rooftops -- leave our deserts for future generations.

What You Can Do:
If you are a Sierra Club member, send them an email to encourage the Club to step up to the plate and follow through with its threat to stop Calico Solar:  membership.services@sierraclub.org or call Sierra Club Membership services at (415) 977-5653
Ask them what the Sierra Club's plan is for putting solar panels on rooftops instead of in pristine desert.

According to the California Energy Commission (CEC), the Calico Solar power project's approval has been put on temporary hold until December 1st,  thanks to action taken by the California Unions for Reliable Energy (CURE).  The Commission probably violated California law and the Warren-Alquist Act when it approved the project before completing written notices.  The CEC's misstep is indicative of the rushed nature of the solar energy approval process, where shortcuts were taken in the biological review of each project and meaningful public participation was difficult.

The temporary hold on the Calico Project could buy groups like the Sierra Club and CURE more time to mount a legal challenge to stop the project.

The proposed site for the Calico Solar power project which will be cleared by Tessera Solar unless groups like the Sierra Club challenge Tessera's definition of "clean" energy.


  1. Michael Brune is also doing a live chat on Grist tomorrow (Tuesday 23rd). Even if you can't access the chat when it's on, there's a form for submitting a question to be asked for you.

  2. I'm wondering if the Sierra Club board of directors aren't better recipients of this message. Do you have email addresses for them?

  3. The Wildlands Conservancy also has a dog in this hunt, but they may have come to an agreement with DOIBLM and others to avoid litigation, if memory serves me.

    They donated thousands of acres of land purchased from Catellus, some of which became part of this project and slated for bulldozing. Of course this went against the letter and spirit of their agreements made before handing the land over to the U.S. for preservation.

    If this matter has not been settled, perhaps they might step in as well.

  4. Maybe contacting Sierra Club membership services makes most sense for those of us who are currently deciding whether to renew our soon-expiring memberships. I'm on the fence and waiting to see if the Club will do something I can support.


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