Conservationists Offer Alternative to First Solar Projects in Ivanpah Valley

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) on Wednesday hosted a public meeting to discuss one of two solar projects that would be built in the Ivanpah Valley by First Solar Inc, drawing concerned citizens who expressed deep frustrations with a misguided renewable energy policy.   Desert experts and conservation advocates in attendance presented an alternative proposal to designate much of the valley as an Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC) in order to protect a crucial genetic linkage for the threatened desert tortoise and habitat for rare plants and other wildlife.   The full ACEC petition can be viewed at Basin and Range Watch's website .   Many citizens at the meeting have long called for distributed solar generation (such as rooftop solar), or placing solar facilities on lands that are already disturbed instead of on ecologically intact areas such as the Ivanpah Valley. Ivanpah Valley, with the Clark Mountains in the background. The two projects proposed by First S

National Clean Energy Summit Dismissive of Dangers

Political officials and energy industry executives gathered in Las Vegas today to discuss renewable energy policy at the National Clean Energy Summit (NCES).  Many of the headline speakers at NCES were focused on the country's most vexing issue, jobs, with just a very thin veneer of "green" to make it seem like they were talking about something new.     The overall tone of NCES was disappointingly dismissive of the proven dangers of Big Solar and Wind energy, with few voices reminding the attendees that all Big Energy--even solar and wind--exact a toll on the environment.  The reluctance of national leaders to acknowledge the ecological impact that their policy will have on the land is not much different than political candidates denying the science behind climate change. The NCES website was adorned with an image of a large transmission line pylon, and the image of a towering white turbine occasionally flashed on the screen for streaming video coverage of the confe


Fiddleneck blooms and Joshua Tree limbs reach for the sky at Saddleback Butte State Park in the western Mojave Desert.

Environmental Groups Warn Interior on Calico Solar Project

Three environmental groups--the Sierra Club, Defenders of Wildlife, and Natural Resources Defense Council--threatened to take legal action in Federal court against the Department of Interior's approval of the Calico solar power project, urging instead that it be built on already-disturbed lands.   The challenge represents the most significant step taken by these environmental groups to establish principles in what has otherwise been a rush by the Obama administration to industrialize public lands in the name of "green" energy.  The nearly 7 square-mile Calico project would jeopardize key habitat in the central Mojave Desert for several imperiled species, including bighorn sheep, desert tortoise, burrowing owls, and the small-flowered androstephium.  The groups argue that although solar energy is necessary to reduce CO2 emissions, "utility-scale renewable energy sources and related transmission facilities on federal lands can threaten serious and widespread impac

Wise Words

Chris Clarke at Coyote Crossing recently published a great piece on KCET looking at what we will lose when the majestic Carrizo Plain is industrialized for the sake of large-scale renewable energy projects.  While writing the piece he came across a passionate letter written by long-time public servant and friend of the environment Peter Douglas, who recently retired from the California Coastal Commission.  Mr. Douglas wrote the letter urging policymakers to reconsider plans to build massive solar power projects in Carrizo Plain, which will threaten endangered species in an area called "California's Serengeti".  You can read the full letter on the Carrizo Commons website , but I've included some particularly inspiring excerpts below. I sense in pockets of our political, economic and civic world of leaders, a need to be seen as progressive facilitators and not as obstructionists in the way of new centralized industrial development of renewable energy.  This is a

Take 2: Death by a Thousand Cuts

I posted in July about hundreds of square-miles of wind and solar projects that threaten to transform Southern California's deserts and mountains into a giant industrial zone.  Included in that was a BLM map showing those project locations, but I felt that map was missing the landscapes and lifestyles that will actually be impacted by the proposed projects.  I put together my own version of that BLM map, which depicts the same projects and impacts, but with Google Earth you can see the mountains and valleys that will be interrupted by towering wind turbines and the tarps of steel and glass we call renewable energy.  My map does not pretend to follow exact boundaries, but each project is roughly the size depicted on the BLM map.  Wildlife, travelers, naturalists, tourists, hikers, campers, and rock hounds wont notice a 20 meter difference in the boundary when a project is several miles across.  The result is a sick sort of art, showing the planned destruction of " God's

Indigenous America Asks Questions About "Green" Policies

Film maker Robert Lundahl captures Native American concerns regarding the destruction of sacred sites during the initial construction of Solar Millennium's Blythe solar power project. Ironically, the bulldozers already cleared an ancient geoglyph known as "the sun."  The solar project is being delayed since Solar Millennium's switch to photovoltaic panels will require approval, and the company is also attempting to secure financing.  If the company clears these hurdles, construction could resume next year and destroy up to 11 square-miles of historical sites and desert habitat. Indigenous America Asks Questions About U.S. "Green" Policies from Robert Lundahl on Vimeo .