Center for Biological Diversity

 For Immediate Release, April 5, 2016

Contact: Ileene Anderson, (323) 654-5943,

BLM OKs Industrial Solar Project That Would Block Bighorn Sheep Movement in Mojave

BARSTOW, Calif.— The Bureau of Land Management today issued a decision allowing the Soda Mountain Solar project to move forward on developing more than 2,813 acres of public land directly adjacent to the Mojave National Preserve that would cut off a vital route for desert bighorn sheep and damage other desert resources.

This massive, industrial solar array would block the last, best linkage for desert bighorn sheep between the Mojave National Preserve and the Soda Mountain Wilderness Study Area — a key pinch-point for keeping the sheep populations in the preserve connected to populations in the Soda Mountains and ranges beyond. The Center for Biological Diversity, National Parks Conservation Association, Sierra Club and Defenders of Wildlife oppose the decision because the project will affect biological, cultural and water resources on the site and in the adjacent Mojave National Preserve. It also runs counter to the principles adopted in the desert-wide planning under the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan because it fragments important habitat and increases sprawl.

“We need to get off fossil fuels and transition to renewable-energy generation, but it has to be done right,” said Ileene Anderson of the Center for Biological Diversity. “There are other ways to implement this amount of renewable energy without hurting our precious wildlife and irreplaceable parks.”

The project was proposed prior to the extensive planning for renewable energy in the California desert under the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan and undermines key conservation objectives of that plan by blocking a critical movement corridor across the landscape.

The BLM’s environmental review was based on the false assumption that Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, which controls the only transmission lines in the area, would buy the power. However, the department has publicly stated that it will not purchase power from this project. That means additional power lines would need to be built to deliver the power to the grid, causing even more damage to the desert.

A recent report identifies nearly 1.5 million rooftops throughout Los Angeles County that could be used as solar power generators that would create 19,000 megawatts from rooftop solar. The total rooftop solar potential for the city of Los Angeles is more than 5,500 megawatts (more than 15 times what the Soda Mountain solar project would generate), which could power the city on most days since the highest-ever peak in Los Angeles was 6,177 megawatts. Generating electricity locally eliminates the need for new long-distance transmission lines and losses associated with transmission, creating a more efficient clean-energy alternative.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 990,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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