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Renewable energy corporations have launched an eleventh-hour campaign to derail a petition seeking endangered species protection for Joshua trees, saying it could hinder development of the solar and wind power projects California needs to wean itself off fossil fuels.

Lawyers for the renewable energy industry say that by helping to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions, they are helping to mitigate climate change and the threat it poses to sensitive desert species such as the western Joshua tree.

The state Fish and Game Commission on Aug. 20 is expected to vote on whether to accept the petition, which was filed by the Center for Biological Diversity. Approval has been recommended by state biologists.

As a candidate for listing, a species is temporarily afforded the same protections as a state endangered or threatened species.

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