Senator Feinstein Reintroduces California Land Management Bill

Senator Feinstein reintroduced the California Desert Protection Act (CDPA 2011, S.138) this month, a necessary step in order to put the legislation back in motion after Congress adjourned last year without putting the 2010 version of the bill (CDPA 2010, S.2921) to a vote.  CDPA 2011 is mostly identical to last year's legislation, except that Senator Feinstein removed provisions seeking to streamline the permitting process for utility-scale solar energy projects, a process she has previously criticized, in particular because she believed projects should be sited on already-disturbed or private land. CDPA 2011 will create the much needed Mojave Trails National Monument (941,000 acres), and the Sand to Snow National Monument (134,000 acres), and set aside new wilderness areas throughout the Mojave Desert.  The bill would also add land to Joshua Tree National Park, Mojave National Preserve, and Death Valley National Park.   One of Senator Feinstein's motivations in proposing the

Ridgecrest Solar Power Project Cancelled

Update: Solar Millennium LLC has since revived its proposal to destroy 6 square miles of public land, as of 24 March 2011. Ending a stubborn and costly effort to destroy public lands in the name of profit, Solar Millennium finally canceled its proposal to build the Ridgecrest Solar power project in the Western Mojave Desert.   The company planned to bulldoze over 6 square miles of desert, but the California Energy Commission (CEC) staff warned the company about its intention not to approve the project.  The site is located on a Mohave Ground Squirrel connectivity corridor that links different populations of the animal, which the US Fish and Wildlife Service may list under the Endangered Species Act.  The site also hosts at least 40 endangered desert tortoises , and local residents expressed concerns about the project's overdraft of scarce groundwater resources. The CEC's review of the Ridgecrest Solar power project was put on hold in July 2010 after the CEC initially exp

Not all solar is "green" energy...


Green vs. Greed: More Citizens Take a Stand Against Dirty Solar

Over the past two weeks, a coalition of concerned citizens who live and recreate in California's deserts have filed two legal challenges, one against the US Forest Service's approval of the Sunrise Powerlink transmission line, and the other against the Department of the Interior's approval of the Imperial Valley solar power project .  These two new lawsuits included, there are a total of 6 challenges against State and Federal approval of destructive projects.  In sum, these legal challenges represent a maturing of America's view of renewable energy policy, recognizing that not all renewable energy is "green," especially when large utility-scale projects deprive future generations of America's natural and cultural heritage.   Distributed generation (rooftop solar) is a more cost-efficient and democratic way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. California's deserts were under siege last year by energy companies seeking to build several massive solar

Gone fishing...

A fishhook cactus near the Cady Mountains in the Central Mojave Desert.  This cactus is found on the site of the proposed Calico solar power project, which would destroy over 7 square miles of pristine desert.  The site may be saved by the Sierra Club , which filed a legal challenge against the State of California for conducting an inadequate environmental review of the proposed project.  The site hosts an abundance of diverse plant and wildlife, including the endangered desert tortoise.

Pop Quiz on Solar Siting

What would "clean energy" look like in the wrong place? A.)  Hydropower dam on the Colorado River (yes, hydro is renewable). B.)  Wind farm in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). C.)  Solar energy facility in the middle of desert tortoise habitat. D.) All of the above Answer: D.) All of the above. Not all renewable energy is green.   Keep solar on rooftops.  Save our desert for future generations.

Reintroducing the California Desert Protection Act of 2010

Now that the 111th Congress has come and gone, legislation that was not passed last year must either be reintroduced in the 112th Congress or it will never see the light of day.  Senator Diane Feinstein's California Desert Protection Act of 2010 (CDPA 2010) was introduced last year but because of a busy legislative calendar it was never passed.   We want Senator Feinstein to continue working as an advocate for the conservation of California's pristine desert lands, so we are urging her office to reintroduce CDPA 2010 this year. If reintroduced and passed, the bill would create two new national monuments in California's desert, and set aside or expand wilderness areas throughout the Mojave and Sonoran Desert.   The legislation is necessary now more than ever given the threat of rapid energy development, and the decline of the threatened desert tortoise. Take Action: Send an e-mail (sample below) thanking Senator Feinstein for her support for desert conservation,