Rejected by County Supervisors
“For a variety of
reasons, this is the wrong project in the wrong location,”
Supervisors Vice Chairman Robert A. Lovingood said, referring
to the Soda
Mountain Solar Project which was rejected on a 3-2 vote
four hours of public comment and discussion.
The San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday August 23rd,
rejected a controversial solar project that gained national attention because
of its impacts on sensitive areas of the Mojave Desert.
The three-square-mile project site is on federal land along Interstate 15
near the entrances to Joshua Tree National Park, Mojave National Preserve and
Death Valley National Park.
Solar projects, Lovingood said, are more appropriately suited for disturbed
lands such as fallow agriculture lands, brown fields and former mine
“It is hard to justify damaging sensitive desert lands when we have
disturbed lands near transmission corridors that are ideally suited,” Lovingood
said. “The fact that the state has warned of problems with the project gives us
additional cause for concern.”
Supervisors noted that San Bernardino County residents would bear much of
the burden of the project and see few benefits. The Board of Supervisors was
asked to certify project documents under the California Environmental Quality
Act, something the board declined to do.
During the marathon discussion, more than 2,500 petition signatures were submitted
from opponents of the project. The controversial project has received
opposition from more than 70 noted scientists, former National Parks
superintendents and others who said the location is one of the worst locations
possible to build an industrial-scale solar project.
The 2,059-acre project site is located entirely on BLM-administered land
in a rural area of the Mojave Desert, approximately six miles southwest of
Baker and approximately 50 miles northeast of Barstow. Primary access to the
Project site is from the Rasor Road exit from Interstate 15.