Sherman & D’Ambrosio: Reconciling Competing Policies to Develop Energy in the CA Desert

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Stoel Rives attorneys Michael Sherman and Kate D’Ambrosio authored an article for North American Clean Energy titled “The Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan—Reconciling competing policies in the California desert.” The article discusses the recent BLM approval of Phase I, the federal portion, of the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan ("DRECP"), a renewable energy and conservation plan affecting 10.8 million acres of public lands in the California desert as well as potentially impacting renewable energy development on private lands. 

The DRECP was initiated in 2008 by four federal and state agencies to resolve the clash between competing policies—protecting sensitive species while still encouraging renewable energy development. The plan has two phases—the first focuses on management actions on BLM lands, and the second addresses state and private lands. 

Phase I has been criticized by industry advocates for focusing too much on conservation because it prioritizes renewable energy development on less than four percent of the public lands and sets aside approximately 93 percent as BLM Conservation Areas or Recreation Areas. 

In Phase II, the state and several counties will coordinate with federal agencies to revise local and state policies for renewable energy development. Phase II may also include the creation of a Natural Community Conservation Plan program for the issuance of take authorizations for species protected by the California Endangered Species Act.

The authors conclude: “Similar to Phase I of the DRECP, these two components will continue to clash as the State and counties determine how to promote renewable energy development on private land while protecting sensitive species.” 

Read “The Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan—Reconciling competing policies in the California desert,” published November 2016. 

Previous coverage of the DRECP by Sherman and D’Ambrosio can be found here.


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