California’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has released its Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and Proposed California Desert Conservation Plan Amendment. The documents were the result of a comprehensive study to evaluate opening an area of the California desert dedicated to developing and testing renewable energy.
The BLM recommended creating a new “solar energy zone” in the West Chocolate Mountains Renewable Energy Evaluation Area (REEA) in Imperial County in the hopes of incentivizing solar development in the area.
In order to promote sustainable energy, President Barak Obama’s domestic energy strategy makes available 20,762 BLM-managed land in the REEA area. Solar and wind energy facilities will be allowed on this land for testing and development. 19,162 acres near a Niland, California federal mineral estate will allow geothermal energy testing and development.
Any development in the solar energy zone area would be closely monitored. A proposed project would undergo an extensive site-specific environmental review. Development on or near sensitive habitats and river banks would be denied within the REAA, and the BLM would disallow wind turbines and other renewable energy technologies to avoid the risk of them conflicting with local military operations.