Department of Defense and Veteran Speak Out in Favor of Preserving California Desert Wilderness

A San Bernardino Sun opinion piece authored by a veteran that does not want to see his country's natural heritage bulldozed for hastily considered industrial development is included at the bottom of this post.  As I have noted in previous posts, the Mojave Desert has inspired generations of Americans, including the droves of US service members who have trained here. Ironically, some of the opponents of Senator Feinstein's California Desert Protection Act of 2010 (CDPA 2010 or S.2921) claim that efforts to protect desert wilderness from industrial development could also hinder the Department of Defense's ability to adequately prepare our troops.  (for an example, read here )  I think this claim is probably a cheap way to veil some policymaker's attempts to protect energy companies' attempts to develop public lands , rather than preserve DoD's efforts to maintain national security. You can take a look at the testimony presented by the DoD at the CDPA 2010 hea

Mojave Desert Blog on Pause

I will be on the road until 25 May, but as soon as I'm back I'll see what I can dig into regarding the California Desert Protection Act of 2010 (CDPA 2010) Senate hearing .  Otherwise, no major movement (yet) on the solar applications pending in the Mojave Desert.  Stay tuned...

Webcast May Be Available for CDPA 2010 Hearing; No Witnesses Scheduled Yet

According to the website for the Senate's Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, which is conducting a hearing on 20 May to consider Senator Feinstein's proposed California Desert Protection Act of 2010 (CDPA 2010 or S.2921), the Committee currently does not have any witnesses lined up to testify for or against the legislation.   Obviously this could change over the next couple of weeks and I'll keep you posted. It appears that the Committee regularly provides live webcasts--or at least archived webcasts--of its hearings.  Although this means West Coasters will need to wake up at 6:30AM, it will spare you the flight to DC!    Here is the link for the Committee website and you can find the "live webcast" button on the right side of their page at the bottom of the list of options. For more information about the California Desert Protection Act--which aims to balance conservation of America's desert wilderness, and streamline renewable energy generation

CDPA 2010: Senate Hearing Scheduled to Discuss Desert Conservation

Senator Feinstein's proposed legislation to protect hundreds of thousands of acres of desert wilderness, and streamline renewable energy mitigation procedures--the California Desert Protection Act of 2010--is scheduled to be examined by the U.S. Senate's Subcommittee on Energy and Natural Resources this month.  This is a crucial first step for the bill, which was introduced in December.  (You can read my previous post on the hurdles that the legislation faces).  The committee could report the bill "favorably" or "unfavorably" to the Senate, at which point the Senate leadership would have to decide if and when to put the legislation up for a full vote.  With such a busy legislative calendar this year, a full vote for CDPA 2010 is not assured.  Also, the committee could fail to report the bill, or debate could begin within the committee on how to alter the legislation before it is reported to the full Senate. The Subcommittee on Energy and Natural Resources

No major updates, but the Mojave remains in the hands of policymakers

I have been busy with work and life, but have not taken my eyes from the issues affecting the Mojave Desert.  I'm subscribed to the lists of several California Energy Commission (CEC) proceedings that impact our desert, and I've been glued to the news from the Mojave.  As I have mentioned in previous posts, this is an important year for the Mojave as the policy world at the local, state and federal levels determines how we use our open wilderness, and the pace with which we level the desert for industrial-scale energy projects.  There have not been many breaking developments in the past few days, but the CEC continues to deliberate on key projects.  In particular, we are still waiting to hear the "presiding member's" decision on the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System in the eastern Mojave. The California Energy Commission has emerged as one of the most important government bodies with respect to the future of the Mojave Desert. The CEC's leading role

Calico Solar Avoiding Responsibility for Environmental Damage?

In a document submitted by Calico Solar LLC (Tessera Solar and Stirling Energy), the company proposes weakening conditions proposed by the California Energy Commission (CEC) requiring it to conserve nearby Mojave Desert wilderness to compensate for the loss of endangered species.   The proposed Calico Solar power project would displace or kill at least 100 desert tortoises currently located on the site, in addition to several other special status species, including desert kit fox, burrowing owl and foxtail cactus. In the original conditions proposed by the CEC Staff, Calico Solar would have to purchase and conserve 14,018 acres of desert tortoise habitat elsewhere in the Mojave to make up for the loss of wildlife and habitat on the proposed site.  However, in the document submitted by Tessera Solar and Calico Solar LLC, the company lowers the acreage for which it is responsible to 11,658 acres on "BIO-17", which is the designation for the condition requiring the company to

Threatened Vistas

Among the Mojave Desert treasures at stake as energy companies lay claim to vast tracts of BLM-managed desert wilderness are relatively unspoiled scenic vistas.  The view below was taken at dusk in the protected Mojave National Preserve.  Only a stretch of the lonely Kelbaker Road is visible in the distance and leading off to the west of creosote scrub and lava flows.  The California Desert Protection Act of 2010 , introduced by Senator Diane Feinstein, could help preserve more Mojave treasures before they are bulldozed by improperly sited industrial-scale energy development.  In the meantime, it is up to the California Energy Commission (CEC) and science-based surveys of Mojave and Colorado Desert resources to prevent the "solar rush" from trampling irreplaceable wilderness and wildlife.