Desert Renewable Energy Plan Released for Public Comment
After years of work, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell has announced the release of the draft Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP). The DRECP is a land use plan intended to regulate the development of renewable energy projects in 23 million acres of California desert. If adopted, the plan will authorize wind, solar and geothermal developers to construct their projects in a way that limits impacts on protected species like the California desert tortoise, Mohave ground squirrel and Golden eagle, while assuring the conservation of vast swaths of Southern California's desert regions. It will be the largest habitat conservation plan ever adopted in the western United States.
Many renewable energy developers have reacted negatively to the plan because of the extremely limited areas authorized for wind and solar development. Some argue that these limitations will limit California's ability to secure a greater proportion of its energy from renewable sources. Although billed as an effort to streamline renewable energy permitting, those streamlining benefits will apply to few of the industrial-scale developments currently in the planning stages. The draft DRECP and associated environmental documents prepared under CEQA and NEPA can be found at www.drecp.org. The regulatory agencies are circulating the draft plan and the environmental impact documents for public comment through Friday, January 9, 2015.
Cox Castle & Nicholson is representing the wind energy industry in connection with these proceedings.
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