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The Golden State gets greener with Interior decision


State desert plans strike balance between conservation and energy goals, advocacy group says.

Daniel J. Graeber
Interior Secretary Sally Jewell on hand to unveil plans for conservation and renewable energy development in the deserts of California UPI/A.J. Sisco
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A federal decision to use 10 million acres of land in the California desert is an example of how renewable energy planning should be done, the Sierra Club said.
U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell announced the federal government approved plans to set aside 10.9 million acres of land it manages in the California desert for conservation and renewable energy development.
A decade in the making, advocacy group Sierra Club said the deliberation shows there's a balanced way to develop domestic energy and consider the environment at the same time.
"We have a plan that will allow us to build the needed carbon-free clean energy projects while preserving the beautiful, vulnerable and unique habitats only found in the California desert," the Sierra Club's Barbara Boyle said in an emailed statement.
The federal decision preserves the bulk of the land for conservation, but offers around 800,000 acres up for potential renewable energy demand. The federal government said the land specified for development has the potential to host up to 27,000 megawatts of energy, which could be enough to meet the demands of more than 8 million average households.
"This landscape-level plan will support streamlined renewable energy development in the right places while protecting sensitive ecosystems, preserving important cultural heritage and supporting outdoor recreation opportunities," Jewell said.
California officials said the plan is in line with ambitious state goals for renewable energy. Gov. Jerry Brown last week signed a pair of bills that made major cuts in the state's greenhouse-gas emissions.
The package of measures requires California to cut emissions by at least 40 percent from the 1990 benchmark by 2030.
In October, Brown signed a measure to advance the renewable energy mandate for electricity and vowed to cut petroleum use in cars and trucks in the state by as much as 50 percent over the next 15 years.


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