Signing off on Desert Destruction

Before BrightSource Energy could begin bulldozing 5.6 square miles of ecologically intact desert habitat, Secretary of Interior had to sign a record of decision approving the project's use of public land and resources.  Department of Interior ignored its responsibility to act as a responsible steward of public lands, and instead catered to BrightSource Energy's desire to build the project on some of the most important habitat for the threatened desert tortoise, despite calls for the government agency and solar company to consider alternative locations.  Your government knew this was the case, but approved the energy facility anyways.

According to a July 2010 analysis by the Department of Interior preceding Salazar's decision obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request:
"Although the proposed project would achieve all project objectives, and generate the maximum amount of beneficial socioeconomic, greenhouse gas, and air pollutant impacts, it would also result in the greatest number and magnitude of adverse impacts. These would include impacts to Biological Resources, Soil and Water Resources, and Visual Resources that could not be completely mitigated."
Arguably the Ivanpah Solar project does not achieve maximum greenhouse gas reductions. Four the past year, hundreds of workers drive hundreds of miles each day to reach the remote site, and the concrete and steel requirements to build the power tower undoubtedly cause more emissions that installing an equal amount of photovoltaic solar panels on brownfields or on rooftops in the city.


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