Tag Archives: Permitting

Interior Department, State of California Announce Innovative Strategy for Renewable Energy and Conservation on Public Lands in California Desert

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and California Secretary for Natural Resources John Laird today announced the final environmental review of an innovative landscape-scale blueprint to support renewable energy development and conservation on 10 million acres of federal public lands, managed by the Bureau of Land Management in the California desert. The release of the Final Environmental Impact Statement for Phase I of the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP) is a major step forward, and a key part of the collaborative effort to streamline renewable energy while conserving unique and valuable desert ecosystems and promoting outdoor recreation opportunities.

The blueprint is part of a larger, comprehensive effort with California, covering 22 million acres in the state’s desert region. Collectively, these lands contain the potential to generate up to 20,000 megawatts of renewable energy development, while meeting federal and state renewable energy and climate change goals through 2040.

Phase I of the DRECP, which is managed by the Bureau of Land Management, designates Development Focus Areas with high-quality solar, wind and geothermal energy potential, access to transmission and would allow impacts to be managed and mitigated. Applications will benefit from a streamlined permitting process with predictable survey requirements and simplified mitigation measures, and Interior is considering additional financial incentives through an ongoing rulemaking process. The first phase also identifies National Conservation Lands, and designates Areas of Critical Environmental Concern, wildlife allocations and National Scenic and Historic Trail management corridors. These lands would be closed to renewable energy and benefit from adaptive management in the face of climate change.

Read full press release from the U.S. Interior Department and the State of California


Environmental groups again seek to halt solar project

By Adam Breen, BenitoLink

The Sierra Club and the Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society have reignited their effort to halt the $650 million, 2,400-acre Panoche Valley Solar Project by filing a lawsuit against the San Benito County and the Board of Supervisors in local superior court, claiming that environmental impacts of the project still have not been adequately addressed. The environmental groups are challenging the certification of the final supplemental environmental impact report (SEIR) for the project, as well as the approval of the project’s amended use permit.

The groups claim the final environmental report for the project provides “inadequate mitigation measures regarding the Project’s potentially significant environmental impacts to biological resources,” such as wildlife and groundwater. They are asking the court to vacate and set aside certification of the final SEIR and all approvals of the project, on the grounds that it violates the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The petitioners also seek the suspension of all approvals and construction contracts for the project, until the project complies with CEQA. The court filing also asks for the preparation and circulation of a new supplemental EIR for the project. The Sierra Club and Audubon Society’s lawsuit seeks re-circulation of the final SEIR because it includes new information on environmental impacts to avian species such as the California Condor and Tri-colored Blackbird.

The legal battles over the project have spanned half a decade, with the most recent county action occurring May 19, when the Board of Supervisors unanimously rejected appeals to the county Planning Commission’s approval of a supplemental EIR for the long-planned 247-megawatt project, which is approximately two miles southwest of the Fresno County line and the Panoche Hills in southern San Benito County, approximately 15 miles west of Interstate 5

Read full article from BenitoLink