Environment Group Sues U.S. Over Mojave Solar Project

An environmental group sued U.S. agencies including the Department of the Interior over a solar energy project planned for California’s Mojave Desert, claiming it would harm endangered species of animals.

The National Resources Defense Council said the agencies have gone ahead with the project without considering its effect on animals such as the desert tortoise and the golden eagle, according to a suit filed March 26 in federal court in Riverside, California.

“To meet the deadline, the department and its agencies pushed forward without fully considering the project’s impact on these species,” lawyers for the council said in the complaint.

The Calico Solar project is planned for more than 4,000 undeveloped acres in the Pisgah Valley of the Mojave Desert. K Road Power Holdings LLC announced in December 2010 that it had acquired the Calico project from Tessera Solar North America Inc. K Road estimated capital investment at $3 billion.

Kate Kelly, a spokeswoman for the Interior Department, declined to comment on the suit. She said Interior has approved 16 solar projects on public land in the U.S., including Calico.

The council said in the filing its priorities are “defending endangered wildlife and wild places, curbing global climate change and promoting a clean energy future.”

Also named as defendants are the Bureau of Land Management and its director, Robert Abbey; the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and its director, Daniel Ashe; and the secretary of the interior, Ken Salazar.

The case is National Resources Defense Council v. Abbey, 12-cv-02586, U.S. District Court, Central District of California (Riverside).

To contact the reporter on this story: Don Jeffrey in New York at djeffrey1@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew Dunn at adunn8@bloomberg.net.

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