May 10, 2012
This morning, AB 1073, a special interest bill that circumvents the normal environmental review process by local and state agencies for a controversial solar development project, passed off the state Assembly floor. We are deeply disappointed in the California Legislature’s decision to place the interests of one developer ahead of the interests of all Californians.
We at CLCV have long been strong supporters of California’s leadership on and bold investment in clean energy. We can appropriately site these large-scale facilities so we can have clean energy and a healthy environment. Unfortunately, the Calico Solar Project does not strike this balance. California’s environmental community is united in our belief that the special treatment of this project and the developer behind it is “solar done wrong.”
This highly controversial large-scale solar project covers 4,600 acres and is located in the biologically critical and ecologically intact Pisgah Valley in the heart of the California Desert. It will unnecessarily destroy thousands of acres of high quality habitat for many declining species including the threatened desert tortoise, Mojave fringe-toed lizard, and Nelson’s bighorn sheep. It is a development that according to state law—not to mention its large scale and potential to do far more harm than good—demands the full participation of Californians in the review process.
California law provides that Californians must have the opportunity to review major development projects, including new solar facilities. Individual projects like Calico should not be given a “free pass” denying the people’s ability to fully review and weigh in on potential impacts—both positive and negative—to our health and our ecologically unique landscapes. CLCV and the larger environmental community wants to work with solar developers to make the best possible projects providing the highest level of benefit to our environment and our economy. We are disappointed that the legislature today declined the opportunity to preserve the people’s input on this project. In doing so, our elected officials have created a terrible precedent allowing large projects to circumvent our state's California Environmental Quality Act, and undermining the incentives for establishing a strong framework of good planning, siting and permitting, which is needed if we are going to meet our state’s renewable energy goals.
CLCV thanks the members of the Assembly who held firm against the special interests and voted no on this disastrous special interest bill: Assemblymembers Ammiano, Butler, Chesbro, Feuer, Galgiani, Hill, Huffman, Monning, Nielsen and Yamada.