Tuesday, January 05, 2010

In California, Greens and Solar Providers (Unnecessarily) Clash Over Endangered Tortoise

Efforts to install solar projects in deserts are running into problems with conservation organizations who point out that there's no reason to place renewable energy infrastructure in prime endangered species habitat, reports Treehugger:

California's renewable energy providers and utilities are pushing to meet their state's 2020 deadline of providing at least 30 percent of the state's energy from renewable resources. But...one project, scheduled to break ground in the Mojave Desert, is now being challenged after green groups objected to its site, home to several dozen endangered turtles.

BrightSource Energy, the developer of the large solar project, is based out of my hometown of Oakland. They want to create a concentrated solar project made up of 400,000 mirrors on U.S. Bureau of Land Management property, but the Sierra Club wants the site moved closer to the highway to help protect the endangered desert tortoise.

Note to Brightsource (and other renewable energy developers): next time you need a sighting analysis to identify suitable locations for your planned clean energy facility, please hire me and you won't run into expensive, aggravating problems like this.  We will use GIS to identify good parcels of land near roads that are already relatively degraded (e.g., by invasive species, livestock grazing, or ORV's), and thus don't have any endangered species in sight.   We will check in with our contacts both at environmental groups and in agencies, and make sure it all looks good to them. 

I'm all for renewable energy, and it's really not that hard to balance renewables development with biodiversity conservation.  You just need a good, smart, conservation-minded sighting analysis process.

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