Defending the Desert

 

  

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WELCOME

With the increased development plans across our desert and pressure on communities, open spaces, wildlife, and ecosystems, Basin & Range Watch has decided to seek non profit status in the coming months so we can do more. This will include a legal fund. Thank you for your support in defending the desert.

 

Basin and Range Watch is a group of volunteers who live in the deserts of Nevada and California, working to stop the destruction of our desert homeland. Federal and many state agencies and some local governments are seeking to open up millions of acres of unspoiled habitat in our region to industrial renewable energy development. Our goal is to identify the problems of energy sprawl and find solutions that will preserve our natural ecosystems and open spaces. We support renewable energy but advocate for better national and state planning.

Come visit and experience the great beauty of spring wildflowers, vast open vistas, bird watching trails, and wildlife viewing.

>>About Us

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Solar Scorecard Released by Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition

Novemebr 23, 2014 - On November 11 the Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition (SVTC) today released its fifth annual Solar Scorecard, ranking the world’s largest solar companies on their efforts to improve their environmental impacts.

From their website: for over three decades, SVTC has been a leader in encouraging electronics manufacturers to take lifecycle responsibility for their products. This includes protecting workers from toxic exposure and preventing hazardous e-waste dumping in developing countries like India, Ghana, and China that lack the proper infrastructure to protect workers and the environment. SVTC also seeks to stop the practice of sending e-waste to U.S. prisons for dismantling, which results in toxic exposure to inmates.

The Scorecard is a resource for consumers, institutional purchasers, investors, installers, and anyone who wants to purchase photovoltaic (PV) modules from responsible product stewards. The Scorecard reveals how companies perform on SVTC’s sustainability and social justice benchmarks to ensure that the PV manufacturers protect workers, communities, and the environment. The PV industry’s continued growth makes it critical that action be taken now to reduce the use of toxic chemicals, develop responsible recycling systems, and protect workers throughout global PV supply chains. Many PV companies want to produce truly clean and green energy systems and are taking steps to implement more sustainable practices. We note First Solar gets a zero for biodiversity suatainability.

Bureau of Land Management Rejects Solar Development in Silurian Valley

November 20, 2014 - Today the California State Office of the Bureau of Land management (BLM) announced it has rejected an application for a solar energy right-of-way in the Silurian Valley in San Bernardino County, California.

The statement will be posted shortly on BLM's website, and states:
The project application, submitted by a subsidiary of Iberdrola Renewables, LLC, had proposed a 200 megawatt photovoltaic solar project on 1,616 acres about 10 miles north of Baker along highway 127. The BLM determined that the solar project would not be in the public interest after undergoing a rigorous review process in accordance with the BLM's Western Solar Plan.


The Plan, approved in October 2012, created Solar Energy Zones across the West where solar energy projects would be prioritized. The Plan does allow for solar development outside of Solar Energy Zones, however applications in these variance areas must go through a review process based on required factors specified in the Plan before determining if the area is suitable for solar development.


In making its determination on the Silurian Valley project, the BLM analyzed environmental data in addition to gathering information from the public and local, state, federal and tribal governments. The initial review and analysis indicated that the impacts to the Silurian Valley, a largely undisturbed valley that supports wildlife, an important piece of the Old Spanish National Historic Trail, and recreational and scenic values, had too great of an impact on the resources. The BLM concluded that these impacts likely could not be mitigated and that the project would not be in the public interest. More >>here.

Public Meetings for the Las Vegas/Pahrump Draft Resource Management Plan: Solar

November 14, 2014 - Basin & Range Watch attended the North Las Vegas, Nevada, public meeting hosted by Bureau of Land Management (BLM) on November 12 for the revised Resource Management Plan for southern Nevada public land. We asked BLM about the proposed new solar energy zone maps. We asked if there would be any more description than simply maps. We were told that this is all there will be, BLM looked for places in southern Nevada that would be suitable for solar energy based on percent slope, etc. Environmental Assessments (EAs) will be written for each project as they are proposed by a company, similar to how BLM is reviewing projects for the Dry Lake Solar Energy Zone under the parallel Solar Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (Solar PEIS). There are currently three proposals in that zone which will be reviewed with an EA, a lower level of detail for review under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). But we said the Solar PEIS had a more thorough analysis of solar energy zones to begin with, doing a higher level EIS level of analysis, not just an EA level. There needs to be an EIS-level of analysis in this Resource Management Plan, we commented. BLM told us to submit a comment on this.

The meeting was crowded with members of the public concerned about off-road routes and land disposal, perhaps 200 people were present.

LVRMP

DRECP Comment Deadline Extension and Additional Public Meeting in Joshua Tree CA

November 13, 2014 - The California Energy Commission announced today that in repsonse to public comments the deadline for public input to the draft Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP) will be extended 45 days. Originally the comment deadline was January 9, 2015, now it is February 23, 2015. See www.drecp.org.

An additional DRECP public meeting put on by the Bureau of Land Management is now scheduled for November 19, 2014 at the City of Joshua Tree Community Center, San Bernardino County CA, from 5:30 to 8:30 PM.

Forbes Article on Ivanpah Solar Power Towers

November 12, 2014 - Basin & Range Watch does not support nuclear power because of the toxic waste associated with these plants, but Forbes has a good article describing in detail how the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System has not lived up to the cost, and rooftop photovoltaic solar would be a better option.

Thermal Solar Energy -- Some Technologies Really Are Dumb

The largest solar energy facility in the world is already irrelevant and has cost a lot more to construct than any other form of energy. The Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System is a 5-square-mile, 392 MW array that cost $2.2 billion. It is located in the Mojave Desert, where the Sun always shines, and is supposed to produce a billion kWhs per year for 25 years.

Red more: http://www.forbes.com/sites/jamesconca/2014/11/11/thermal-solar-energy-some-technologies-really-are-dumb/

Comment on Inyo County Renewable Energy

November 8, 2014 - Comment on the Inyo County, California, Renwable Energy General Plan Amendment, more >>here.

And You Thought Palen Was Dead

November 4, 2014 - Chuckwalla Valley, Riverside County CA - The Palen solar project, formerly 750-foot-tall solar power towers proposed by BrightSource Energy and the Spanish company Abengoa, is back. The project would forego natural gas back-up apparently and instead build molten salt storage. BrightSource and Abengoa had officially withdrawn the project in a letter to the California Energy Commission in September.


According to Abengoa's website: Abengoa, an international company that applies innovative technology solutions for sustainability in the energy and environmental sectors, has agreed to a deal with BrightSource Energy under which Abengoa will acquire BrightSource Energy's interest in the Palen Solar Energy Generating Station (PSEGS) project. Upon finalization of the purchase transaction, Abengoa will become the sole developer of the project. The Project will continue to use tower technology, but Abengoa intends to propose its molten salt tower proprietary technology, incorporating large thermal energy storage capacity. Details of the transaction have not been disclosed.

Basin & Range Watch Sends Advising Letter to Sunshine Valley Solar

October 14, 2014 - Amargosa Valley NV - Basin & Range Watch retained an attorney to write a letter of advice to Sinshine Valley Solar LLC over the potential for Federally Endangered Yuma clapper rail "take" (mortality) on the proposed Sunshine Valley Solar Project in Amargosa Valley near the wetlands of Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge in Nye County NV. We believes it would be both prudent and legally appropriate for Sunshine Valley Solar to initiate the application process for an Incidental Take Permit.

The Yuma clapper rail (Rallus longirostris yumanensis) is a marsh bird listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act. According to a July 2014 letter from the US Fish and Wildlife Service to Sunshine Valley Solar providing the agency’s comments on the Project, solar photovoltaic (“PV”) facilities like the Sunshine Valley Solar Project “present a new source of mortality for Yuma clapper rails” because “[t]hese facilities reflect light during the day and night, producing a lake or pond effect that may attract rail species and other water-associated birds.” Several rail bird mortalities caused by this “lake effect” at PV facilities have been documented, and the actual number of mortalities is likely higher than this documentation reflects, as scavengers often remove bird carcasses before they can be accounted for. See the letter >>here.

Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP) >>here

Las Vegas Resource Managament Plan >>here

Renewable Energy Projects We Are Following:

Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System

BrightSource's solar thermal power tower proposal in Ivanpah Valley, San Bernardino County CA >>here. Updates >>here (online)

 

Proposal for an Ivanpah Valley Area of Critical Environmental Concern >>here

SearchlightSearchlight Wind Energy Project

Duke Energy's proposal to place giant wind turbines over the Searchlight Hills, Clark County, Nevada >>here.

 

SilurianSilurian Valley Wind and Solar Energy Project

Iberdrola plans on various wind and solar projects in this remote Mojave Desert valley southeast of Death Valley National Park, San Bernardino County, California >>here.

 

transmissionCoolwater-Lugo Transmission Project

A large Southern California Edison transmission project from Barstow south along State Route 247 which would open up huge swaths of desert and threaten local communities with energy sprawl >>here

 

clapper railSunshine Valley Solar Project

A 110 MW photovoltaic project by First Solar on private land in Amargosa Valley NV that is close to Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refgue. Federally Endangered Yuma clapper rails may be threatened by the "lake effect" of the solar panels >>here

 

UmaPalen Solar Electric Generating System

500 MW solar power plant in Chuckwalla Valley ten miles east of Desert Center, on good Mojave fringe-toed lizard habitat. BrightSource Energy and Abengoa partners on project. >>here (withdrawn)

 

 

Silver StateSilver State South Solar Project

Photovoltaic panel proposal in Ivanpah Valley, Clark County, Nevada >>here

(under construction)

 

statelineStateline Solar Project

Photovoltaic panel proposal in Ivanpah Valley, CA >>here (under construction)

See also Ivanpah Updates page >>here; May 2011 >>here

 

sodaSoda Mountain Solar Project

Photovoltaic panel proposal in San Bernardino County, California >>here

 

fsDesert Sunlight Solar Farm

Many applications for giant solar developments in this Colorado Desert area of Chuckwalla Valley in Riverside County, California >>here. (under construction)

 

GensisGenesis Solar Energy Project

NextEra Energy proposes to build a 250-megawatt parabolic trough solar thermal plant near Ford Dry Lake in Chuckwalla Valley, Riverside County, California. Water is a concern. >>here (under construction)

 

McCoy Solar Power Project

750 MW photovoltaic project in McCoy Wash, Riverside County near Blythe, by NextEra Energy. >>here (under construction)

 

BlytheBlythe Solar Power Project

A huge 1,000 MW photovoltaic panelproject in McCoy Wash, Riverside County with a 5,950 acre footprint. Cultural issues, Fringe-toed lizards, and Desert tortoise are concerns. >>here (under construction)

 

 

I-10 Corridor Projects in Chuckwalla Valley >>here

Crescent Dunes Solar Project

Solar Reserve Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project. A 100 MW power tower project with molten salt storage, near Tonopah, Nevada >>here. (under construction)

 

Rice

Solar Reserve Rice Solar Energy Project

A 500-foot tall power tower in a remote California desert >>here. (inactive)

 

 

Owens Valley solar projects

Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and private companies are planning on developing large-scale solar facilities in Owens Valley at various locations. See >>here, and LADWP Solar Ranch; Northland Solar Project.

See also: Deepest Valley: The Story of Inyo Continues

 

ocotilloOcotillo Express Wind Facility

Pattern Energy's project on the boundary of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Imperial County, California >>here (online)

Spring 2011 Field Trip >>here

 

spring vallySpring Valley Wind Energy Project

Pattern Energy wants to build up to 85 giant 400-foot tall wind turbines in Spring Valley east of Ely, Nevada, 12 miles from the boundary of Great Basin National Park. The site is home to Pygmy rabbits, Sage grouse, and Pronghorn antelope. DEADLINE for Comments January 15, 2010! >>here (online)

 

tiptonMohave County Wind Farm Project

On the White Hills and fan next to Lake Mead National Recreation Area in northwestern Arizona, near Mt. Tipton Wilderness and by places where California condors have been sighted from Grand Canyon reintroductions >>here

CalicoCalico Solar Project (SES Solar 1)

This project is larger than the city of Berkeley. K Road project by the proposed Cady Mountains Wilderness, San Bernardino County, California >>here. Updates >>here (withdrawn)

 

hidden hillsHidden Hills Solar Electric Generating System

BrightSource Energy's second solar thermal power tower proposal in Mesquite Valley, Inyo County CA >>here (not active)

 

eagleRio Mesa Solar Electric Generating Facility

BrightSource Energy's third solar thermal power tower proposal along the Colorado River near Blythe, San Bernardino County CA>>here (not active)

 

Abengoa Lathrop Wells Solar Facility

This project is no longer active. In Amargosa Valley, Nevada, a 250-megawatt parabolic trough solar thermal plant that may be upgraded to 500 MW, with 70 MW photovoltaic. >>here (withdrawn)

 

 

Imperial Valley Solar Project

This project is no longer active. Former Tessera Stirling dish project on 6,500 acres sited on archaeologically sensitive Colorado Desert with Flat-tailed horned lizards, west of El Centro, Imperial County, California >>here (withdrawn)

 

Chevron Lucerne Valley Solar Project

Chevron Energy Solutions is proposing to build a 516-acre photovoltaic project on Mojave Desert with Joshua trees and tortoises. Some call the area disturbed, but we disagree >>here

 

Pacific Solar Big Dune Photovoltaic Project

7,500-acre project in Amargosa Valley, Nevada, on rare and endemic beetle habitat >>here (not active)

 

AmargosaAmargosa Farm Road Project

Proposal with storage in Amargosa Valley, Nye County, Nevada >>here (not active)

 

 

Desert dandelionRidgecrest Solar Power Project

Photovoltaic panel proposal for Kern County, California, in the West Mojave Desert >>here. Updates page >>here (terminated)

 

Solar Demonstration Area in Nevada Test Site by Department of Energy >>here

 

Granite Mountain Wind Energy Project

RES proposal to place wind turbines on a roadless pristine mountain in San Bernardino County, California, home to the rare Ford's Indra swallowtail. >>here

 

Wilson

Wilson Creek/Table Mountain Wind Project

This project has been canceled. A proposed 990 MW wind farm on 30,000 acres of beautiful Great Basin mountain range with elk and sage grouse, a popular recreation area in Lincoln County, Nevada near Pioche >>here (withdrawn)

 

Wind Project Impacts - Photos of Construction in the Mojave Desert and Tehachapi Grassland >>here

Wind Project Proposed for Eastern Edge of Joshua Tree National Park >>here

 

Storage Projects:

Eagle Mountain Hydroelectric Pumped Storage Project

An area that should be part of Joshua Tree National Park, in Riverside County, California. Related to the renewable energy projects along the I-10 corridor >>here

Transmission Projects:

Green Path North Transmission Project

Los Angeles Department of Water and Power high-voltage line would cut through Big Morongo Canyon Preserve in San Bernardino County, California >>here (not active)

 

 


Eldorado-Ivanpah Transmission Project

Southern California Edison proposal to upgrade and add lines in southern Nevada and eastern California in Ivanpah Valley, to deliver future renewable energy to coastal cities >>here (completed)

 

 

 

Sunrise Powerlink

Southern California proposed mega-powerline to supposedly link wind and solar in the eastern deserts and Baja to coastal cities in San Diego County, but also tied to fossil fuel >>here (completed)

 

SCE Proposes 2 New Renewable Energy Transmission Projects in Mojave Desert >>here

 

Renewable Energy Alternatives:

CALL to ACTION for ENERGY DEMOCRACY

Sign the Petition by Solar Done Right (scroll down to petition on left front page)

This initiative will bring citizens together to demand a more cost-effective, faster, less damaging, and more democratic path to renewable energy. Our goal is to move renewable energy development away from our ecologically rich and agriculturally important lands and onto rooftops and already-developed areas. Solar Done Right will take this petition to top energy policymakers in our government: the White House, Department of Interior, Department of Energy.

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Community Power: Decentralized Renewable Energy in California by Al Weinrub >>1.22 MB PDF

Policy:

Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan >>here

SolarSolar Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement for CA, NV, AZ, NM, CO, UT >>here

Solar Done Right Response >>here

Bureau of Land Management plan to designate renewable energy zones in the desert Southwest >>here

Defining Disturbed and Degraded Lands for Renewable Energy >>here

 

Science:

Golden Eagle Research in the Desert: Renewable Energy Impacts >>here

BRW Recommends Agencies Follow the Final Report of the Independant Science Advisors to the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan >>here

 

Desert Pavement: A Natural Soil Type >>here

 

 

Desert Tortoise Recovery: Science and Politics Clash >>here

 

New Desert Tortoise Species Described, Mojave Population Unique, Implications for Big Solar and Conservation >>here

Revised Desert Tortoise Recovery Plan Fails to Address Renewable Energy Sprawl >>here

 

Sand Lizards of the Desert: Fringe-toed Lizards >>here

 

 

Flat-tailed Horned Lizard in Trouble in Imperial Valley, California >>here

 

Evolutionary Hotsports in the Mojave Desert >>here

Carbon Sequestration in the Desert: Dr. Michael Allen Paper on Gaps in Desert Research >>here

Letter From an Ecologist: Solar Development Threatens the Desert >>here

Water in the Desert: Wet-Cooling and Dry-Cooling Technology for Solar Thermal Projects >>here

 

 

 

Solar Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement for CA, NV, AZ, NM, CO, UT >>here

Solar Done Right Response >>here

 

Senator Feinstein Bill: California Desert Protection Act of 2010

Proposal for Mojave Trails National Monument and Sands to Snow National Monument, some new wilderness areas, some wilderness study areas removed, and a giant plan for a Mitigation Zone for renewable energy projects >>here. Abengoa Solar and Cogentrix Energy support the bill, according to the California Wilderness Coalition

January 2011: Senator Feinstein Crafts New California Desert Protection Bill Minus Solar Provisions >>here

All Renewable Energy Issues >>here

Summary of Solar

^October 2014 - Cinammon teal, Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Calendar of Comment Deadlines

January 7, 2015 deadline - Comment on Las Vegas and Pahrump Field Offices Draft Resource Management Plan and Draft Environmental Impact Statement, Nevada>>www.blm.gov

February 23, 2015 deadline - Comment on the Draft Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP) to >>www.drecp.org

Comment on the Renewable Energy General Plan Amendment (REGPA) of Inyo County CA >>Inyo County

Draft Las Vegas Resource Management Plan >>here

Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan >>here

Coolwater-Lugo Transmission Project in the California Desert >>here

Great New Website Helping to Preserve Rural Communities, Mojave Communities Conservation Collaborative:

http://www.MojaveC3.org/

and Facebook page

Alliance For Desert Preservation:

http://a4dp.org/#Home

New Website of Interest: Deepest Valley: The Story of Inyo Continues

Check Out the Watch East Kern Website - Good Information on Our Precious Desert Groundwater http://watcheastkern.info/

Robert Lundahl Film: "Who Are My People?" >>here

 

 

 

 

More Renewable Energy NEWS >>here

 

 

 

Hiking the Desert

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MINING NEWS >>here

Reward Mine Gets Permit >>here

 

 

 

"In the first place you can't see anything from a car; you've got to get out of the goddamned contraption and walk, better yet crawl, on hands and knees, over the sandstone and through the thornbush and cactus. When traces of blood begin to mark your trail you'll see something, maybe."

--Edward Abbey, 1967, Desert Solitaire

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MORE CARTOONS >>here.

All text and photographs Copyright 2014 Basin and Range Watch unless otherwise stated. Basin and Range Watch is an all-volunteer group which does not accept donations from any corporation, individual, or entity.
Web Design by Laura Cunningham, Basin and Range Watch.