Western Watersheds Project (WWP) has filed suit in federal court to halt construction of the Ivanpah solar power plant project, which is being built by BrightSource Energy Inc. in the Mojave Desert in eastern California near the Nevada border.
According to WWP, which defines its mission as protecting and restoring watersheds and wildlife on public lands throughout the American West, the project site consists of 5.4 square miles of high-quality habitat for the threatened desert tortoise.
‘No project can be considered clean or green when it involves the destruction of habitat for a species listed under the Endangered Species Act on this scale,’ says Michael Connor, California director for WWP. ‘The Department of Interior is tasked with siting energy projects in an environmentally sound manner. Instead, it is allowing thousands of acres of important desert tortoise habitat to be bulldozed when there are alternative ways of generating power.’
Threatened by habitat loss, habitat degradation, disease, and predation by ravens and coyotes, the Mojave population of the desert tortoise was listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act in 1990, WWP explains. Since then, populations have continued to decline, and the Ivanpah Valley is home to the most genetically distinct of the five recognized California desert tortoise populations, the organization says.
‘The environmental review for this project was rushed and inadequate – the agencies did not even determine how many desert tortoises were on the site, nor did they determine what impact blocking the north Ivanpah Valley with an industrial-scale power plant would have on connectivity with other tortoise populations,’ says Connor.
SOURCE: Western Watersheds Project