Work on Solar Project Halted to Protect Lizard | KCET
Work on Solar Project Halted to Protect Lizard
Work has halted on a solar power facility in Imperial County due to the possibility that a rare lizard on site may be listed as an endangered species by the state.
Construction halted Wednesday at the Tenaska Imperial Solar Energy Center West, being built by Tempe, Arizona-based First Solar, in the wake of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife's accepting a petition to list the flat-tailed horned lizard as Endangered under the California Endangered Species Act.
Any species being considered for listing under CalESA automatically gets the full protection of the law until its fate is determined, and that means contractors at the Tenaska site must now proceed as though the lizard is officially listed.
Construction will remain halted until Tenaska acquires permits from the Department of Fish and Wildlife. The company says it expects that will happen next week.
Tenaska Imperial Solar Energy Center West, which would generate up to 150 megawatts of power, began construction in December 2014 on 1,100 acres of abandoned farmland west of El Centro. That's right in the heart of flat-tailed horned lizard habitat, and the lizards don't make it easy for construction workers to avoid killing them. Three inches long and well-camouflaged against the desert soil, the lizards' primary means of defense against predators is to freeze in place. That's not a particularly helpful strategy when the "predator" threatening you is actually a piece of earthmoving equipment.
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife has a year to decide whether to list the flat-tailed, which has lost most of its potential habitat in California's low desert to suburban and agricultural development. Imperial County's burgeoning solar industry has been cited as a serious potential threat to the county's remaining flat-tails.
Workers hired to build the Tenaska project are still collecting paychecks while they've been idled, according to a report in the Imperial Valley Press. One contractor working on the site told IV Press reporter Alejandro Davila Fragoso that his company is losing $146,000 per week due to the delay.
For ongoing environmental coverage in March 2017 and afterward, please visit our show Earth Focus, or browse Redefine for historic material.
KCET's award-winning environment news project Redefine ran from July 2012 through February 2017.
Federal Coronavirus Bailout Program is 'Frustrating And Disappointing' For Some Small Business Owners
Many small business owners that have had to close or lay off employees due to coronavirus still have no idea whether they will receive loans from the federal Paycheck Protection Program.
Unless politicians strengthen emergency tenant protection laws to include forgiveness for back rent owed, experts and advocates warn that Los Angeles (and California) could see a huge surge in homelessness in the near future.
When the "Safer at Home" orders went into effect, there was worry for the community's seniors, a cohort that tends to shop on an as-needed basis, often on foot, in the few dozen square blocks in and around Chinatown or Lincoln Heights.
Fifteen more deaths from coronavirus were reported today in Los Angeles County, raising the total to 147, while the overall number of cases went up by 420 as the county entered what officials expect to be one of the worst weeks in terms of virus spread.
- 1 of 259
- next ›