Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Western Watershed Project v. Ken Salazar (Interior Dept.)

Aug 10: In the U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit, Case No. 11-56363. Appealed from the United States District Court for the Central District of California. In a brief 5-page order, the Appeals Court affirmed the district court order and denied a challenge by environmental interest to stop a $2.2 billion solar energy project in California because of concerns it would harm desert tortoises and other wildlife.
    The Appeals Court said, "In balancing the equities, the district court properly weighed the environmental harm posed by the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System (ISEGS) project against the possible damage to project funding, jobs, and the state and national renewable energy goals that would result from an injunction halting project construction, and concluded that the balance favored Appellees. . . The District Court also properly exercised its discretion in weighing Appellant's delay in seeking a preliminary injunction until after construction began, was temporarily halted, and begun anew, and some $712 million had been expended among the equitable factors. . ."
    Finally, the Appeals Court said, "The district court also did not abuse its discretion in analyzing the public interests at stake. It properly concluded that Appellant's contention that rooftop solar panels were a preferable source of renewable energy amounted to a policy dispute and could not support a finding that an injunction was in the public interest. The district court properly took into account the federal government's stated goal of increasing the supply of renewable energy and addressing the threat posed by climate change, as well as California's argument that the ISEGS project is critical to the state's goal of reducing fossil fuel use, thereby reducing pollution and improving health and energy security in the state. Appellant has pointed to no clear factual error or mistake of law in the district court's analysis of the public interest factors. Accordingly, we affirm the denial of Appellant's preliminary injunction motion."
    On August 5, NRG Energy, Google, BrightSource Energy and construction partner Bechtel announced that Ivanpah SEGS had reached the halfway mark of construction on the world's largest solar thermal project. Ivanpah has also reached its peak construction workforce, with more than 2,100 construction workers and project support staff on-site. The $2.2 billion project is on-track to be complete in 2013. Located on 3,600 acres of U.S. BLM managed land in southeastern California, ISEGS is a 392 megawatt (gross) solar thermal power facility developed by BrightSource Energy. The project began construction in October 2010, and will deliver power to serve BrightSource's signed contracts with PG&E and Southern California Edison.
    Access the complete order (click here). Access the Ivanpah SEGS website for complete project information (click here). Access the Western Watersheds California website for more information on their lawsuit (click here). [#Energy/Solar, #CA9]
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