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County Supervisor, Concerned by BrightSource Mega Solar Project Impacts, Calls for Full Review

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Supervisor Brad Mitzelfelt – photo: Dan Wilson

(Best Syndication News) SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. – The highest ranking local elected official representing the area of the proposed BrightSource Ivanpah solar project today said the mega project's environmental impacts as proposed are too great, and that its proponents should adhere to established standards of environmental scrutiny for large-scale developments.

“Huge developments that level ecologically sensitive public lands must not be allowed an alternative review process that's distorted by the political agenda du jour,” said Supervisor Brad Mitzelfelt, who represents most of the Mojave Desert.

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"This project is planned on land that the BLM along with a local coalition of industry and environmental groups long ago identified as habitat for protected species," Mitzelfelt said. "This solar project in its current configuration could compromise nearly twenty years of efforts to protect habitat and appropriately grow Desert communities."

Mitzelfelt, representing San Bernardino County's huge First District, said regulators will hold the habitat loss associated with the BrightSource project against other projects – including renewable energy projects in less environmentally sensitive areas closer to California labor markets – without providing offsetting economic benefits to San Bernardino County. He added that there are many renewable-energy projects he expects to support, including some solar, pending full environmental reviews.

"This project would create jobs for mostly Las Vegas and electricity for mostly San Francisco at the expense of Southern California’s Mojave Desert,” Mitzelfelt said.

News media are reporting that the project is being "fast-tracked" through environmental reviews and that it will rely on union labor from California sources up to 200 miles away. That is as opposed to the more realistic scenario that envisions the jobs going to the Las Vegas job market, which is little more than an hour’s drive away.

Mitzelfelt observed that large projects, including highways, power plants and a military base expansion in the area, typically have faced multi-agency reviews that have stretched for five years up to 20 years.

“You can't be responsible here while cutting every corner,” said Mitzelfelt, who added that he considers the Ivanpah project's impacts on habitat, water resources and scenic vistas "significant, unmitigatable and not worth the environmental price."

By: David Zook

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