A huge solar power plant threatens rare plants and animals.
There has been much discussion about renewable energy sources and large wind and solar projects. The problems with many of these projects are manyfold. One, there will be no decommissioning of any coal fired or other polluting/greenhouse gas emitting power plants as mitigation. Two, the areas where many of these projects are planned are in very important habitats for rare plants and animals. Three, many of these plants are centralized for the profit of the few and vulnerable to any manner of attack as can be seen from last week’s post. Fourth, desert soils, which will be scraped of all life, are great carbon sinks and all of this carbon will be released to the atmosphere exacerbating the greenhouse effect.
The Ivanpah Solar Energy Project is planned for an area of southern California near Clark Mountain on the border of the Mojave National Preserve. 4,000 acres, nearly 6.5 square miles, will be scraped clean of all earth and solar panels will be constructed.
There are better ways and places to produce or save electricity but since many people view these lands as “wastelands” there is little concern from the public. De-centralized power, including community based systems, in areas that have already been developed such as rooftops and farm fields are better options. This type of development is more sustainable, loses less energy in transmission, and less vulnerable to attack.
Basin and Range Watch visited the site of the proposed facility and found a great diversity of life.
Even though the rains were not great this past winter, wildflowers were still common in the Mojave Desert. We walked across the old granitic fan sloping gradually off Clark Mountain, by creosote rings perhaps thousands of years old, by strange tree-like cholla cacti, to a small gray limestone hill. The entire area we traversed will be graded by machinery and stripped of all life if the planned Ivanpah Solar Energy Project is built. So we wanted to check out what will be lost.
The desert here was quite active, Black-throated sparrows singing from the tops of shrubs, Zebra-tailed lizards skittering across washes, and hordes of mammal tracks filling the sand: Kit foxes, kangaroo rats, pocket mice, jackrabbits, even a few wild burros. The place was waking up from cold winter rest, and a diversity of wildflowers showed themselves.
Last Spring at Ivanpah…?
Basin and Range Watch.