Landmark Agreement Leads to More Solar in Southern California
August 3, 2011
Sierra Club, several environmental groups, and Desert Sunlight solar development company have reached an agreement that clears the way for solar energy while providing important protections for sensitive desert habitat and species in California. The Desert Sunlight project near Blythe will produce 500 megawatts of clean, solar energy. As part of the agreement, Sierra Club and its allies secured a commitment by the federal Bureau of Land Management and the developer to refrain from pursuing any future renewable energy development on approximately 14,500 acres of nearby sensitive lands. Environmental studies conducted during the permitting process showed that such development would result in high impacts to desert species and habitat. The settlement agreement also secured important air quality measuring programs to monitor potential impacts that the project could have on nearby Joshua Tree National Park and the surrounding area. The project and settlement agreement contained other provisions that will result in the protection of thousands of acres of desert tortoise habitat and will maintain important habitat connectivity for populations near the project.
This agreement is the culmination of several months of cooperative and collaborative discussions between the environmental community, the developer, and multiple government agencies. The Desert Sunlight project demonstrates that carefully sited projects with adequate protections can result in environmentally friendly large-scale renewable energy facilities that will provide clean energy for California and the nation.
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