Green Battle Rages Over Mojave Desert

In the name of nature preservation, proposed legislation would effectively ban solar and wind projects from much of the Mojave desert.

Published: 14-Jan-2010

BARSTOW, Calif. -- A California senator's move Monday to put more than one million acres of the Mojave Desert off limits to development is spotlighting a clash between two prime goals of environmentalists.

Before Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein introduced legislation to create the Mojave Trails National Monument and other protected wilderness areas, solar-power developers had submitted nearly two dozen proposals since 2006 for projects that would make the Southern California desert the biggest solar farm on Earth.

California has set an ambitious target of garnering one-third of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020. That has sparked a renewable-development boom as utilities sign contracts for everything from solar farms to geothermal plants. It also has made it easier for developers to secure financing.

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