Dept. of Interior

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Gov. Brown Signs Agreement to Fast-Track Renewable Projects

Brown and Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar are expanding a state and federal partnership to expedite large-scale renewable projects.

Craig Miller/Climate Watch

The partnership between the Department of the Interior and the state of California expedites the approval process for large-scale solar, wind, and geothermal projects.

The partnership originates from an agreement then-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed in 2009. Now Brown and Salazar are extending it, and broadening the scope of the agreement, to include not only energy, but also transmission projects. They signed a memorandum of understanding (pdf) at a solar project being built in Elk Grove this morning.

According to a press release from the state, the projects now being fast-tracked, which are the Bureau of Land Management’s seven priority projects, plus other projects on private land, will generate enough renewable energy to meet the state’s 33% by 2020 goal.

The MOU signed today doesn’t guarantee they’ll all be built, rather, it’s a move towards expediting the lengthy permitting process these large-scale projects require.

News Flash (Not): Western Water in Peril

Yes, it rained and snowed a lot this winter and left us with an epic Sierra snowpack. Now forget all that. The long-range outlook: still dry.

A new report from the federal Bureau of Reclamation may offer the most comprehensive forecast yet for western water in the 21st century — but few surprises.

The report, Managing Water in the West, breaks down the outlook for eight key river systems, including three vital to California. The overall message is predictably sobering.

The risks that California faces from climate change are pretty well known, says Peter Gleick of the Oakland-based Pacific Institute. He says the 200-plus-page report “doesn’t offer any new surprises about those risks — but it does reaffirm those risks in an increasingly compelling way.”

Lake Oroville reservoir during California's recent three-year drought. (Photo: Craig Miller)

Some media coverage of the report seems to conclude that California gets off lightly in the study. But the section of the report covering the critical Sacramento and San Joaquin basins seems sobering at best. While it does predict a small (0.6%) increase in annual precipitation on the Sacramento, the report also foresees a drop in San Joaquin precipitation of somewhere between 4.2% and 5.3% by 2050. Continue reading