Plan divvies up desert for conservation, energy projects

By The Associated Press

 

A federal plan will open swaths of public land in the California desert to renewable energy development while preserving much of the landscape for conservation and recreation.

 

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A federal plan will open swaths of public land in the California desert to renewable energy development while preserving much of the landscape for conservation and recreation.

The blueprint was released Wednesday by the Interior Department after a yearslong process aimed at balancing clean-energy projects and the environment.

The plan deals with 17,000 square miles (44,030 sq. kilometers) of desert managed by the federal government.

It would allow construction of sprawling solar, wind and geothermal plants on 606 square miles (1,569 sq. kilometers) of land away from ecologically sensitive habitats while designating 10,200 square miles (26,418 sq. kilometers) for conservation.

Environmentalists say the plan strikes a good balance. But the renewable energy industry has warned that it's too limiting and will hurt development.

 

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