The Trump administration is threatening to scrap a major Obama-era agreement that sought to protect millions of acres of the California desert by placing sensitive areas off-limits to major solar- and wind-energy installations.
The Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan covers more than 10.8 million acres and was designed to guide energy facilities to parcels where they are least likely to cause environmental damage. The administration’s announcement that it will reconsider the plan touched off an immediate backlash in the West. The Trump administration’s action could also open up sensitive desert areas to off-road vehicles, mining and grazing.
“Scrapping the plan now is a complete waste of time and money, and I oppose this,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.). Other leaders in California agreed. The California Energy Commission, which took a lead role in developing the desert management plan, says the state will have no problem meeting its aggressive clean-energy goals without rolling back the protections.
The move by the administration comes as some energy firms and local governments complained the plan was too restrictive, placing off-limits land they have been seeking to develop.
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