Editor's Note: Washington D.C. and Sacramento lawmakers and regulators are currently developing a blueprint for solar and wind energy development across the California desert. This Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan, or DRECP, is slated for completion in June of 2012. Below are public comments that were recently offered to the DRECP Stakeholder Group on November 18, 2010, reprinted by permission.
Thank you all for continuing to fight the tyranny of charts, graphs, and PowerPoint to work towards enlightened consensus. When I think of California’s desert, I think about a slow, quiet, and hardy place. A place that is as biologically and geologically dynamic as we have in the United States. I think of families of quail; babies with floppy plumes, horned lizards invisible against their habitat, and creosotes born in the Pleistocene going strong.
We should carefully consider how much of the national burden (for total renewable energy production) the Mojave and Colorado deserts should bear. We must identify resilient core zones and connect them through conservation while incentivizing use of low conflict lands to produce our power. We must better honor the intention of laws such as the organic act and the ESA. We continue to urge the nation to embrace, fund, and connect to our public lands. A first step in doing so is to recognize the values we still have in these quiet, pristine desert landscapes, and ensuring their species and views are retained for those who have yet to discover them. Final thought: Without a comprehensive plan with benchmarks, how close to our goal does each project get us?