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State Works to Balance Renewable Energy Projects and Protecting Endangered Species

Licensed under Creative Commons from Flickr user moominsean

California is working on a plan to balance goals of developing renewable energy projects on desert lands and protect the endangered species that live there. Californians can weigh in at a public meeting on Wednesday

Remote desert areas may seem like the perfect place for wind and solar energy projects. But some projects have already stalled because they threaten endangered species such as the desert tortoise or bighorn sheep.

The state and the federal government are working on a plan to balance those two goals.

Karen Douglas serves on the California Energy Commission. "What trying to do is get sense of how much renewable energy development in the desert can be done consistent with meeting our conservation goals-- and where that development should go."

She says the plan would designate desert areas where the permitting process could be streamlined. And it would establish specific guidelines for how developers must mitigate their environmental impacts.

The plan would apply to more than 22 million acres of California desert. That would make it the largest habitat plan developed under the Endangered Species Act. A draft is due out in December.