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Mowing Vegetation as Mitigation: Trump Administration Practice Goes Unchallenged

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The Trump administration is again touting the practice of mowing thousands of acres of desert vegetation as environmentally-responsible, despite a preponderance of evidence to the contrary.  The draft environmental review of the Yellow Pine Solar project in southern Nevada claims that vegetation mowing - as opposed to bulldozing - will yield positive outcomes that are highly doubtful.   This positive framing of the construction practice misleads the public and decisionmakers and ignores decades of scientific research regarding the impacts of mechanized disturbance on desert wildlands.  According to the draft environmental review:
"Mowing is becoming the standard on large site-type ROWs to prevent permanent impairment of public lands (as mandated by FLPMA) and in lieu of off-site mitigation...Mowing methods are designed to help preserve soils, biological soil crusts, soil seed banks, native perennial vegetation diversity and structure, and cacti and yucca species, and to resist wee…

Steering Economic Stimulus Toward Sustainability: A Case for Distributed Generation

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As lawmakers debate stimulus programs to bolster an economy that has sunk in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, there are calls for incentives and grants for renewable energy companies.  What can we learn from the last major renewable energy stimulus, and how can we pursue a bold and progressive program that supports people more than corporations, and protects wildlands more than rich investors?

As the Los Angeles Times points out, the last major stimulus aimed at the renewable energy industry occurred under the Obama administration.   Investors and corporations benefited the most from this approach. Some of those grants and incentives spurred research and development, and others supported "steel in the ground," such as large-scale solar projects on public lands in the desert.  Those large projects created mostly temporary jobs, and often resulted in unnecessary destruction of key wildlands.  For example, the natural gas-burning Ivanpah Solar project in California receive…