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  • Wednesday, January 19, 2011


    Conservation group sues to stop California solar plant
    Nichola Groom (w/Robert Birsel), January 18, 2011 (Reuters)

    "A U.S. conservation group has sued the federal government over its approval of a major solar power plant in the California desert, the latest in a string of challenges to the nation's renewable energy goals from the environmental community.

    "…[T]he non-profit Western Watersheds Project alleged U.S. regulators approved Brightsource Energy's 370-megawatt Ivanpah solar energy plant without conducting adequate environmental reviews, and asked the court to order the defendants [the U.S. Department of the Interior, the Bureau of Land Management and the Fish and Wildlife Service, as well as the agencies' heads and other staffers] to withdraw their approvals…"

    The stretch of desert where Brightsource wants to build is pretty barren. (click to enlarge)

    "The complaint said the project's approval process failed to analyze and mitigate the Ivanpah plant's impact on migratory birds, the desert tortoise, which is a threatened species under federal law, desert bighorn sheep, groundwater resources and rare plants.

    "…Brightsource has taken measures to assuage environmentalists' concerns about the project. In October, the privately held company reached a deal with litigious environmental group The Center for Biological Diversity to acquire thousands of acres of habitat for the desert tortoise and other rare species."

    It might be useful to see the bigger picture because climate change will cause some pretty serious impacts, too. (click to enlarge

    "Conflicts between solar proponents and foes are taking on growing importance as the renewable energy industry experiences a boom, particularly in California…The conflicts have the potential to set back the development of solar energy and derail state and federal commitments to lessening dependence on fossil fuels.

    "Last month, a group called La Cuna de Aztlan, which represents Native American groups such as the Chemehuevi and the Apache, filed a challenge in federal court to the federal government's approval of six big solar plants -- including Ivanpah…"


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