BLM may scrap hard-fought California desert protections

Credit: Bob Wick/BLM

The Trump administration continues to meddle with protected lands, this time in California’s delicate Mojave Desert. In the last months of the Obama administration, California struck a deal that balanced the state’s needs for environmental preservation with its ambitious renewable energy goals, setting aside 2,000 square miles of desert for renewable energy development while protecting 7,800 square miles for conservation. But the Bureau of Land Management announced that it would like to renegotiate the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan to align with President Trump’s energy production priorities. While the stated goal for the change was to “reduce burdens on all domestic energy development, including solar, wind, and other renewables,” supposedly by removing portions of the conserved land, renegotiating the plan could potentially open the area up to other kinds of environmental degradation, like mining of the use of off-highway vehicles. Considering the Trump administration’s loyalty to oil, gas, and “clean, beautiful coal,” there’s reason to be wary.

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