A massive solar energy project proposed to be built within one mile of Mojave National Preserve has failed to get key permits from the San Bernardino County supervisors, who were concerned over the impacts the project would bring to the area.
This move marks a major setback for the industrial-sized solar proposal and a major victory for the broad range of individuals and organizations who have adamantly opposed to this project, considered one of the most controversial renewable energy projects in the country, said a release from the National Parks Conservation Association, which had opposed the project's siting.
The county, a co-lead agency in charge of permitting for the proposal, rejected the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) certification associated with the industrial-sized project, the group said.
“The beautiful and wildlife-rich Soda Mountain site, located less than one mile from Mojave National Preserve, now lives to fight another day, thanks to the smart decisions by San Bernardino County’s Supervisors," said David Lamfrom, director of NPCA's California Desert and Wildlife Programs. "The ever-growing list of opposition includes nearly 5,000 County residents, 50,000 national park lovers, more than 70 scientists, the National Park Service, the three closest communities to the project and chambers of commerce and tourism-related businesses across the county.
“Today, the county supervisors did what the Interior Department would not; they denied the nation’s worst renewable energy proposal. The science was clear, as were the impacts identified by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, the National Park Service and Interior Department-appointed advisors. This project is known to be poorly-located and the risks far outweigh the benefits.”
NPCA officials said the Soda Mountain Solar would negatively impact important habitat for desert bighorn sheep, kit foxes, burrowing owls and migratory birds. Such impacts have thus far led to an inability to secure a buyer for the energy that would be produced, they added.
In light of the supervisors’ vote, the project proponent must find an alternative, off-site source of water for the project’s construction, operation and decommission.