Basin & Range Watch
Defending the Desert
Protecting the Basin and Range Province
Basin and Range Watch is a group of volunteers who live in the deserts of Nevada and California, working to stop the destruction of our desert homeland. Federal and many state agencies and some local governments are seeking to open up millions of acres of unspoiled habitat in our region to industrial renewable energy development. Our goal is to identify the problems of energy sprawl and find solutions that will preserve our natural ecosystems and open spaces. We support renewable energy but advocate for better national and state planning.
Come visit and experience the great beauty of spring wildflowers, vast open vistas, bird watching trails, and wildlife viewing.
Sign the Petition: Save Searchlight Desert and Mountains
November 13, 2015 - Searchlight NV - Please sign this petition to ask the Bureau of Land management to designate the Searchlight Hills a wind-free zone because of very high nesting golden eagle populations and desert tortoise. More >>here.
Abengoa Starts Insolvency Proceedings: Palen Solar Project In Question
November 27, 2015 - The Spanish solar company's shares dropped as it announced insolvency proceedings; it has four months to reach a deal with creditors or potenitally face bankruptcy. This brings into question whether the company has the ability to continue to develop the Palen Solar Power Project in Riverside County CA which it recently took over from BrightSource Energy. Abengoa needs to have its new plan of development to the California Energy Commission by December 22, 2015.
Federal Judge Rejects Environmental Group Challenge on Ocotillo Wind Project
November 22, 2015 - The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that environmental groups including the Desert Protective Council had not shown that the Bureau of Land Management acted arbitrarily in greenlighting the Ocotillo Wind Energy Facility project in the desert east of San Diego.
The three-judge panel said BLM did not violate the National Environmental Policy Act, or NEPA, as the environmentalists claimed, because BLM “sufficiently evaluated and disclosed the environmental impacts of the Ocotillo wind energy project.”
Basin & Range Watch placed a Freedom of Information Act request on this project. The US Fish and Wildlife Service was not completely satisfied with the qualifications of some of the raptor biologists hired on the Ocotillo Express Wind Project. The environmental review, in our opinion, may have been flawed.
Eagle Mountain Pumped Hydro Storage Project: Ask the Department of Interior to Protect Joshua Tree National Park
November 14, 2015 - ACTION ALERT! Eagle Crest Energy (ECE) has proposed its Eagle Mountain Pumped Storage Project for an area immediately adjacent to Joshua Tree National Park. Email Interior Secretary Jewell Secretary_jewell@ios.doi.gov and National Park Service Director Jarvis Jon_Jarvis@nps.gov, and tell them you encourage them to halt negotiations with ECE and challenge this project in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to protect Joshua Tree from an environmental disaster. More >>here.
Final Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan Announced
November 10, 2015 - Washington DC – U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and California Secretary for Natural Resources John Laird today announced the final environmental review of the landscape-scale blueprint to streamline renewable energy development on 10 million acres of federal public lands, managed by the Bureau of Land Management in the California desert. The release of the Final Environmental Impact Statement for Phase I of the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP) is part of agency pushes to streamline renewable energy on public lands. More >>here.
--Silurian Valley is protected, but Soda Mountains solar project development area is not.
--The beloved Trona Pinnacles area is made into a new very large Devlopment Focus Area.
--802,000 acres of new "Unallocated Lands" are suddenly open to utility-scale renewable energy development.
--There is a 30 day protest period.
New "Streamer" Video Obtained by Basin & Range Watch of Crescent Dunes Solar Project Birds Vaporizing
^Bird "streamer" disintegrating in solar flux. Still frame crop from video.
October 27, 2015 - Near Tonopah NV - The Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System power towers have made the news in bird mortality as the intense solar flux creates damaging heat energy to anything that flies through it over formerly biodiverse Mojave Desert habitat in a valley surrounded by bird-rich mountain ranges. Now Basin & Range Watch has obtained a video through Freedom of Information Act Request that shows biologists contracted by SolarReserve filming and commenting on numerous birds flying into solar flux, apparently horned larks, turning white-hot, and vaporizing. This video is from last January during testing when mirrors were focusing solar flux in a "halo" pattern in standby position above and around the tower creating a deadly ring of bird-trapping flux. SolarReserve has replied since then they "fixed" the problem by rearranging the mirrors to create a less intense "pancake" pattern.
The real problem is the operational solar flux, not solar flux during testing when the mirrors are aimed in different configurations around the power tower. During operation, when all mirrors are aimed at the receiver on top of the tower, a high-energy solar flux cone. Simply changing testing configurations does nothing to mitigate the solar flux created in the air space around the tower during normal operation, when temperatures are hot enough to super-heat fluids such as molten salt (as at Crescent Dunes) or water into steam (as at Ivanpah). See more >>here.
^November 2015 - Joshau trees in a storm, Spring Range looking towards the Sheep Range, southern Nevada.
Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP) >>here
Inyo County Renewable Energy General Plan Amendment>>here
Las Vegas Resource Managament Plan >>here
Solar Projects (Active):
Blythe Solar Power Project
A huge 1,000 MW photovoltaic panel project in McCoy Wash, Riverside County with a 5,950 acre footprint. Cultural issues, Fringe-toed lizards, and Desert tortoise are concerns. >>here (under construction)
Crescent Dunes Solar Project
Solar Reserve Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project. A 100 MW power tower project with molten salt storage, near Tonopah, Nevada >>here (under construction)
Desert Quartzite Solar Farm
A 2,500-acre photovoltaic project by First Solar near Blythe, in Riverside County, California >>here
Desert Sunlight Solar Farm
A large-scale First Solar photovoltaic project in Colorado Desert area of Chuckwalla Valley, Riverside County, California >>here (in operation)
I-10 Corridor Projects in Chuckwalla Valley >>here
Genesis Solar Energy Project
NextEra Energy proposes to build a 250-megawatt parabolic trough solar thermal plant near Ford Dry Lake in Chuckwalla Valley, Riverside County, CA. Water is a concern. >>here (under construction)
Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System
Luning Solar Energy Project
100 MW photovoltaic project in Mineral County, NV >>here (approved)
McCoy Solar Power Project
750 MW photovoltaic project in McCoy Wash, Riverside County near Blythe CA, by NextEra Energy. >>here (under construction)
Owens Valley Solar Projects
Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and private companies are planning on developing large-scale solar facilities in Owens Valley in eastern CA at various locations. See >>here, and LADWP Solar Ranch; Northland Solar Project.
Palen Solar Electric Generating System
500 MW solar power plant in Chuckwalla Valley ten miles east of Desert Center CA, on good Mojave fringe-toed lizard habitat. Abengoa Solar. >>here
Silver State South Solar Project
Photovoltaic panel proposal in Ivanpah Valley, Clark County NV >>here (under construction)
Soda Mountain Solar Project
Photovoltaic panel proposal in San Bernardino County CA>>here
Last Spring at Soda Mountain? >>here
Stateline Solar Project
Sunshine Valley Solar Project
A 110 MW photovoltaic project by First Solar on private land in Amargosa Valley NV that is close to Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refgue. Federally Endangered Yuma clapper rails may be threatened by the "lake effect" of the solar panels >>here
Solar Demonstration Area in Nevada Test Site by Department of Energy >>here
Wind Projects (Active):
Ocotillo Express Wind Facility
Pattern Energy's project on the boundary of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Imperial County CA >>here (online)
Spring 2011 Field Trip >>here
Mohave County Wind Farm
On the White Hills and fan next to Lake Mead National Recreation Area in northwestern AZ, near Mt. Tipton Wilderness and by places where California condors have been sighted from Grand Canyon reintroductions >>here
Searchlight Wind Energy Project
Duke Energy's proposal to place giant wind turbines over the Searchlight Hills, Clark County NV >>here.
Silurian Valley Wind and Solar Project
Iberdrola plans on various wind and solar projects in this remote Mojave Desert valley southeast of Death Valley National Park, San Bernardino County, CA >>here. (Solar project rejected by Bureau of Land Management)
Spring Valley Wind Energy Project
Pattern Energy wants to build up to 85 giant 400-foot tall wind turbines in Spring Valley east of Ely NV, 12 miles from the boundary of Great Basin National Park. The site is home to Pygmy rabbits, Sage grouse, and Pronghorn antelope >>here (online)
Coolwater-Lugo Transmission Project
A large Southern California Edison transmission project from Barstow CA south along State Route 247 which would open up huge swaths of desert and threaten local communities with energy sprawl >>here
Eldorado-Ivanpah Transmission Project
Southern California Edison proposal to upgrade and add lines in southern NV and eastern CA in Ivanpah Valley, to deliver future renewable energy to coastal cities >>here (completed)
Southern California proposed mega-powerline to supposedly link wind and solar in the eastern deserts and Baja, Mexico to coastal cities in San Diego County CA, but also tied to fossil fuel >>here (completed)
SCE Proposes two New Renewable Energy Transmission Projects in the Mojave Desert >>here
Inactive or Withdrawn Solar Projects:
Amargosa Farm Road Project
Proposal with storage in Amargosa Valley, Nye County NV >>here (not active)
Big Dune Solar Prohject
7,500-acre project in Amargosa Valley NV by Pacific Solar, on rare and endemic beetle habitat >>here (inactive)
Calico Solar Project
Hidden Hills Solar Electric Generating System
BrightSource Energy's second solar thermal power tower proposal in Mesquite Valley, Inyo County CA >>here (withdrawn)
Imperial Valley Solar Project
Former Tessera Stirling dish project on 6,500 acres sited on archaeologically sensitive Colorado Desert with Flat-tailed horned lizards, west of El Centro, Imperial County CA >>here (withdrawn)
Lathrop Wells Solar Facility
An older Abengoa application. In Amargosa Valle NV, a 250-megawatt parabolic trough solar thermal plant that may be upgraded to 500 MW, with 70 MW photovoltaic >>here (withdrawn)
Lucerne Valley Solar Project
Chevron Energy Solutions is proposing to build a 516-acre photovoltaic project on Mojave Desert with Joshua trees and tortoises in Lucerne Valley CA. Some call the area disturbed, but we disagree >>here (inactive)
Rice Solar Energy Project
A 500-foot tall power tower in a remote CA desert by Solar Reserve >>here (inactive)
Ridgecrest Solar Power Project
Rio Mesa Solar Electric Generating System
BrightSource Energy's third solar thermal power tower proposal along the Colorado River near Blythe, San Bernardino County CA>>here (inactive)
Inactive or Withdrawn Wind Projects:
Granite Mountain Wind Energy Project
RES proposal to place wind turbines on a roadless pristine mountain in San Bernardino County CA, home to the rare Ford's Indra swallowtail >>here
Wilson Creek/Table Mountain Wind Project
This project has been canceled. A proposed 990 MW wind farm on 30,000 acres of beautiful Great Basin mountain range with elk and sage grouse, a popular recreation area in Lincoln County NV near Pioche >>here (withdrawn)
Wind Project Impacts - Photos of Construction in the Mojave Desert and Tehachapi Grassland >>here
Wind Project Proposed for Eastern Edge of Joshua Tree National Park >>here
Inactive Transmission Projects:
Green Path North Transmission Project
Los Angeles Department of Water and Power high-voltage line would cut through Big Morongo Canyon Preserve in San Bernardino County CA >>here (not active)
Eagle Mountain Hydroelectric Pumped Storage Project
An area that should be part of Joshua Tree National Park, in Riverside County CA. Related to the renewable energy projects along the I-10 corridor >>here
Better Renewable Energy Alternatives:
CALL to ACTION for ENERGY DEMOCRACY
Sign the Petition by Solar Done Right (scroll down to petition on left front page)
This initiative will bring citizens together to demand a more cost-effective, faster, less damaging, and more democratic path to renewable energy. Our goal is to move renewable energy development away from our ecologically rich and agriculturally important lands and onto rooftops and already-developed areas. Solar Done Right will take this petition to top energy policymakers in our government: the White House, Department of Interior, Department of Energy.
Desert Tortoise Recovery: Science and Politics Clash >>here
New Desert Tortoise Species Described, Mojave Population Unique, Implications for Big Solar and Conservation >>here
Revised Desert Tortoise Recovery Plan Fails to Address Renewable Energy Sprawl >>here
Golden Eagle Research in the Desert: Renewable Energy Impacts >>here
BRW Recommends Agencies Follow the Final Report of the Independant Science Advisors to the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan >>here
Desert Pavement: A Natural Soil Type >>here
Sand Lizards of the Desert: Fringe-toed Lizards >>here
Flat-tailed Horned Lizard in Trouble in Imperial Valley, California >>here
Evolutionary Hotsports in the Mojave Desert >>here
Carbon Sequestration in the Desert: Dr. Michael Allen Paper on Gaps in Desert Research >>here
Letter From an Ecologist: Solar Development Threatens the Desert >>here
Renewable Energy Issues >>here
Calendar of Comment Deadlines
West Mojave Plan (WEMO) comment deadline January 25, 2016 - BLM
Federal Judge Voids Permits for Searchlight Wind Project >>here
Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan >>here
Coolwater-Lugo Transmission Project in the California Desert >>here
Get the first Basin & Range Watch Calendar for 2016!
More Renewable Energy NEWS >>here
MINING NEWS >>here
"In the first place you can't see anything from a car; you've got to get out of the goddamned contraption and walk, better yet crawl, on hands and knees, over the sandstone and through the thornbush and cactus. When traces of blood begin to mark your trail you'll see something, maybe."
--Edward Abbey, 1967, Desert Solitaire
"Polite conversationalists leave no mark, save the scar upon the earth that could have been prevented had they stood their ground."
MORE CARTOONS >>here.
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