Desert activists vigorously oppose the BrightSource Energy project in the east Mojave’s Ivanpah Valley and NextEra’s Genesis solar plant 20 miles west of Blythe. National groups have not mounted a strong challenge to either project.But how do the tortoises feel about subsidies?
When BrightSource was planning the Ivanpah installation, the big environmental players urged the firm to move the bulk of the project closer to Interstate 5 to avoid prime habitat for the desert tortoise, a protected species. The company responded by reducing its total footprint by 12%, which didn’t solve the problem.
After construction began, large numbers of desert tortoises were discovered. According to federal biologists, BrightSource is now responsible for relocating and caring for 95% of all the tortoises expected to be found on all solar project sites in the Mojave.
Some rank-and-file Sierra Club members had wanted to sue to stop the project altogether, but the group’s national board of directors vetoed that proposal in favor of a more neutral approach.
On the Genesis project, the Sierra Club and others met with NextEra executives and urged the company to abandon its plans for the site out of concern that it is too close to a wilderness area. In addition, local groups warned the developer that the site contained sensitive cultural resources.
The project went ahead, only to become embroiled in controversy over the discovery of Native American cultural artifacts that halted construction on one-fifth of the site.
Friday, April 06, 2012
Green Desert Storm
The rush to go green is creating a rift between greens and, er, greens: