The Biden Administration blocked the former Trump Administration’s last minute effort to weaken protections in the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan.
The proposed changes would have reduced protection of 2.2 million acres of rocky peaks, salt scrub lowlands and rich riparian corridors and other sensitive desert by allowing mining and other industrial uses. It also would have allowed renewable development on an additional 800,000 acres. The established plan allows 10.8 million acres managed by the Bureau of Land Management to be used for renewable energy development.
Blocking changes to the desert plan was welcome news to many, including Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA). She noted that the plan, which covers more than 10 million acres of the California desert, was finalized in 2016 after more than eight years of negotiations, scientific analysis, and public engagement.
California Energy Commission Karen Douglas also applauded the decision. “Today’s action means these valued public lands will continue to be protected while ensuring renewable energy projects needed to achieve California’s 100% clean electricity target can be developed responsibly.”
BLM leadership agreed. A renewed partnership with the state allows the building of “a clean energy economy that creates jobs, addresses climate change, and conserves public lands for current and future generations,” BLM Principal Deputy Assistant Laura Daniel Davis said.