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Mojave Desert Protections and Renewable Energy Under Attack
By Helen O'Shea
After opening up most of our country's shorelines to offshore drilling, the Trump administration is now reconsidering an ambitious and innovative plan to conserve desert lands while generating renewable energy.
The administration intends to reopen the Desert Renewable Energy and Conservation Plan (DRECP) for the Mojave Desert finalized in September 2016. The plan was based on more than 8 years of stakeholder input—more than 16,000 comments were submitted—hard science and balancing the need for conservation and clean energy.
The DRECP strikes the right balance—it protects lands important for, wildlife and habitat connectivity, lands rich in cultural resources and lands treasured by local communities for recreation. It also identifies almost 400,000 acres of appropriate lands for renewable energy zones—more than enough to meet the state of California's ambitious renewable energy goals.
A desert tortoiseFrazier Haney
Despite Interior Sec. Ryan Zinke's recent comments, there is absolutely no reason to re-open it. Zinke couldn't have been more wrong when he said, "Five hundred miles of solar cells is not compatible with the habitat." The whole point of the DRECP was to make sure that renewable energy development and conservation take place in the right areas so that both can co-exist in the desert.
In reality, the DRECP would allow development of solar projects on a small fraction of the 10 million acres of federal land included in the plan. There certainly is no proposal for a single, contiguous solar facility covering 500 square miles that Zinke's misstatement warns of. His blatant error reflects this administration's outright hostility to clean energy and allegiance to fossil fuels at any costs.
Instead of scare tactics, the focus now should be on robust implementation of the plan, not re-opening it at tax payers' expense. Re-opening the DRECP jeopardizes more than four million acres of important conservation lands. It could also threaten many of the desert's most threatened and endangered species such as majestic bighorn sheep and ancient desert tortoise.
Opening the DRECP will also create uncertainty for local counties, industry, wildlife agencies, outdoor recreationists and rural communities. NRDC will fight efforts to undo the work of 8 years of stakeholder input and planning, which will waste a great deal of time and money invested by both the federal and state governments and is certain to result in a less balanced plan.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Erica Cirino
Visit a coral reef off the coast of Miami or the Maldives and you may see fields of bleached white instead of a burst of colors.
By Jason Bittel
High up in the mountains of Montana's Glacier National Park, there are two species of insect that only a fly fishermen or entomologist would probably recognize. Known as stoneflies, these aquatic bugs are similar to dragonflies and mayflies in that they spend part of their lives underwater before emerging onto the land, where they transform into winged adults less than a half inch long. However, unlike those other species, stoneflies do their thing only where cold, clean waters flow.
By Bob Curley
- The new chicken sandwiches at McDonald's, Popeyes, and Chick-fil-A all contain the MSG flavor enhancement chemical.
- Experts say MSG can enhance the so-called umami flavor of a food.
- The ingredient is found in everything from Chinese food and pizza to prepackaged sandwiches and table sauces.
McDonald's wants to get in on the chicken sandwich war currently being waged between Popeyes and Chick-fil-A.
By Andrea Germanos
Youth climate activists marched through the streets of Davos, Switzerland Friday as the World Economic Forum wrapped up in a Fridays for Future demonstration underscoring their demand that the global elite act swiftly to tackle the climate emergency.
By Tim Radford
The year is less than four weeks old, but scientists already know that carbon dioxide emissions will continue to head upwards — as they have every year since measurements began — leading to a continuation of the Earth's rising heat.