Industry Coalition Objects To DRECP Limits

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Originally published on the ECOreport.

Some think of Ivanpah as a renewable milestone. Mojave elder Reverend Ron Van Fleet finds it an obstacle to performing rituals at a sacred site within the solar plant’s enclosure. The residents of Boulevard were more successful fighting against encroaching industrial scale wind and solar plants. Environmentalists are concerned about the negative impacts sites have on threatened species like the desert tortoise. These are the kind of problems that led to the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP). Only now an industry coalition objects DRECP limits on renewable access to land.

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Industry Coalition Objects To DRECP Limits

The American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE), the California Wind Energy Association (CalWEA), the California & Nevada State Association of Electrical Workers, Large-scale Solar Association (LSA) and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) pointed out that less than 388,000 of the 11 million acres being opened up in Phase 1 are slated for renewable energy development.

“The DRECP issued by the BLM today is a Model T in a Tesla world. Rather than fostering sustainable clean energy development as a part of a conservation plan, it severely restricts wind and solar,” protested Shannon Eddy, Executive Director of LSA.

“The plan misses an opportunity to put thousands of people to work in high paying jobs,” added Secretary-Treasurer Richard Samaniego of the California State Association of Electrical Workers.

In its press release, the coalition states:

“The plan also punts identification of additional lands for renewable energy development to an elusive ‘Phase 2.’ The groups expect little coordination between the BLM and counties since the focus will be on private lands, and renewable energy developers doubt that the next phase will yield the lands necessary to meet long-term energy and climate goals.”

These tufa spires, some as high as 140 feet, were formed underwater 10,000 to 100,000 years ago when Searles Lake formed a link in an interconnected chain of Pleistocene lakes stretching from Mono Lake to Death Valley- by Bob Wick, BLM (Released into Public Domain).

Up to 27,000 megawatts

According to the BLM, the 388,000 acres set aside for renewables in Phase 1 “have the potential to generate up to 27,000 megawatts of renewable energy — enough to power over eight million homes — that will help meet federal and (California’s) state renewable energy and climate change goals.”

“This landscape-level plan will support streamlined renewable energy development in the right places while protecting sensitive ecosystems, preserving important cultural heritage and supporting outdoor recreation opportunities,” boasted Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell.
Southern California's Desert tortoises live in many types of desert habitats, but they do require friable (crumbly) soils in order to build burrows and nests. They are very sensitive to the heat, and exposure can kill them in less than one hour. Photo by Dana Wilson, BLM (released into Public Domain) .

Avoid & Minimize Damages To Sensitive Resources

“Our state agencies say the 388,000 acres is adequate to get California to its current goal of 50% renewables (by 2030). There are safeguards in the DRECP to avoid, and minimize, damages to sensitive resources and we will be watching to ensure they are implemented,” said Ilene Anderson, from the Center of Biological Diversity.

She added that there are parts of the DRECP that the Center is concerned about. For example, there are already millions of acres of conservation areas within the California desert. These currently do not have the same degree of protection as is afforded by the DRECP.

“Some of the crucial areas for desert tortoise, where climate change modelling indicates they have the best chance of survival, are not protected (by the DRECP). We really think they should have been permanently protected, as were some of the more remote areas elsewhere,” said Anderson.
Cadiz Wilderness and Valley The pristine nature of the dunes and the beautiful spring display of unique dune plants have made the area a favorite for photographers. - by Bob Wick, BLM (released in Public Domain).

SEIA Defends Its Record

Dan Whitten, SEIA’s Vice President of communications, responded to concerns about the negative impact of industrial scale renewable plants by emailing, “SEIA’s member companies are proud of their positive contribution toward reducing pollution and fighting global warming. We also are committed to producing clean and abundant energy from the sun in a way that is in harmony with ecological and historical lands and we are proud of our track record of preserving sensitive lands. Our companies are spending tens of millions of dollars on mitigating any potential impact of solar projects on people, lands and wildlife.”

Photo Credits: Renewable Energy Development in the California Desert –  by Tom Brewster Photography. (Public Domain); These tufa spires, some as high as 140 feet, were formed underwater 10,000 to 100,000 years ago when Searles Lake formed a link in an interconnected chain of Pleistocene lakes stretching from Mono Lake to Death Valley– by Bob Wick, BLM (Public Domain); Southern California’s Desert tortoises live in many types of desert habitats, but they do require friable (crumbly) soils in order to build burrows and nests. They are very sensitive to the heat, and exposure can kill them in less than one hour. Photo by Dana Wilson, BLM ( Public Domain);Cadiz Wilderness and Valley The pristine nature of the dunes and the beautiful spring display of unique dune plants have made the area a favorite for photographers. – by Bob Wick, BLM (Public Domain). 


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Roy L Hales

is the President of Cortes Community Radio , CKTZ 89.5 FM, where he has hosted a half hour program since 2014, and editor of the Cortes Currents (formerly the ECOreport), a website dedicated to exploring how our lifestyle choices and technologies affect the West Coast of British Columbia. He is a research junkie who has written over 2,000 articles since he was first published in 1982. Roy lives on Cortes Island, BC, Canada.

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