Possible Detour on the “Electron Superhighway”

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It appears that almost 200,000 acres of Mojave Desert will be under federal wilderness protection now that Congress passed the Omnibus Land Management Act of 2009.

Much more was set aside throughout California, as I report in my radio story for The California Report.

Now, Senator Dianne Feinstein is eyeing almost a million additional acres in the Mojave off of old Route 66 between Ludlow and Needles.

There are currently 163 proposed renewable energy projects for federal lands in the Mojave Desert region. Nineteen of them are slated for the land Senator Feinstein wants to set aside. If energy companies can’t build on that land, it follows that they’ll try to build it in the land that’s left.

And that’s got a lot of people who live in the unprotected areas of the Mojave worried. Not only are most of the state’s large-scale renewable energy projects planned for this region, but as I explored in a recent two-part series for Climate Watch, there’s also a transmission corridor in the works to carry that power to Los Angeles.

Use the player below to listen to my conversation with Jim Harvey, who heads the Alliance for Responsible Energy Policy, about what all of this new land protection means for environmentalists like him.

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