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State Juggles Protecting Endangered Species and Developing Renewables

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(Sacramento, CA)
Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Remote desert areas may seem like the perfect place for wind and solar energy projects. But some projects have raised concerns because they threaten endangered species such as the desert tortoise or bighorn sheep.

The state and the federal government are working on a plan to balance those two goals.

Karen Douglas serves on the California Energy Commission.

DOUGLAS: "What we're trying to do is get a sense of how much renewable energy development in the desert can be done consistent with meeting our conservation goals, and where that development should go."

She says the plan would designate desert areas where the permitting process could be streamlined.  And it would establish specific guidelines for how developers must mitigate their environmental impacts.

The plan would apply to more than 22 million acres of California desert. That would make it the largest habitat plan developed under the Endangered Species Act.  A draft is due out in December.

Californians can attend the meeting Wednesday at the Energy Commission in Sacramento, or tune in online. 

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