This past Tuesday, the US Department of Interior (DOI) and the California Department of Natural Resources issued the long-awaited 8,000 page Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP).
According to Think Progress , the document is meant to lay out a landscape-level plan for more than 22 million acres in California, which is roughly a quarter of the state.
The plan was developed in order to chart a course for large-scale solar, wind, and geothermal development in California’s desert and inland valleys while identifying important ecological areas that are off-limits to energy development.
As of now, the plan includes lands in Imperial, Inyo, Kern, Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino, and San Diego counties.
According to Clean Technica , the specifics of the plan are as follows: 2 million acres of land will be streamlined as land immediately available for 20,000 Mw of utility-scale solar, wind, and geothermal projects in the next 25 years, and another 4.9 million acres will be set aside for the conservation of desert animals and habitats.
The energy component would more than double the current energy production from California desert renewables.
US Secretary of Interior Sandy Jewell presented the plan Tuesday, stating , “So commonly we look across landscapes like this and think that there’s nothing there.
But there are a number of species that live just in this place.
We now have a roadmap that can be used in other areas across the country to say these are the areas with the greatest potential and the least conflict for development and these are the areas that should never be developed,” highlighting the purpose of the plan.
She continued , “This is a strong and innovative blueprint that shows how federal and state agencies can collaborate to meet conservation and energy objectives on a landscape-scale while providing certainty to developers.” Hopefully, the plan will help to satisfy everyone, including conservationists, scientists, developers, wildlife officials, and Native American tribes.
Clean Technica reports that one of the goals of the plan is “to prevent some of the mistakes that were made during the ‘solar gold rush’ in the Mojave Desert during the first year of the Obama administration, when solar developers, backed by billions in federal stimulus money, put giant industrial facilities on relatively undisturbed public lands in an effort to combat climate change and wean the country from fossil fuels.”