Thursday, February 14, 2013

Environmental groups challenge Salazar's solar plans

A trio of environmental groups are challenging the Department of Interior's establishment of solar energy zones in six southwestern states, including Utah, asserting the federal government failed to contemplate permitting large-scale utlity projects on already developed lands. "We don't have to use pristine desert if there are sufficient (alternatives) that could achieve the same goals as these large projects proposed on public lands," said Chris Krupp, an attorney for Western Lands Project in Seattle. Krupp is representing that organization, as well as the Western Watersheds Project and the Desert Protective Council, in a suit filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in California. Initially, the Interior Department pursued the establishment of solar energy zones on 285,000 acres in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah. In October, however, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar signed off on an expanded solar plan the groups contend keeps open 19 million acres for possible large-scale projects. "The administration is opting to needlessly turn multiple-use public lands into permanent industrial zones," said Janine Blaeloch, also with the Western Lands Project. "Solar development belongs on rooftops, parking lots, already-developed areas and on degraded sites, not our public lands."...more

No comments: