Eblast: July 11, 2016

  • Soda Mountain Solar Project Meeting, August 23
  • Big Bear Xeriscape Tour, July 16
  • Susan Luckie Reilly 100th birthday

Soda Mountain Solar Energy: SB Co. Supervisors decide on Aug. 23rd

MBCA and our conservation partners are urging San Bernardino County Supervisors to deny approval for the Soda Mountain Solar Energy Project. It is important the Supervisors hear from constituents with strong objections to approving the Soda Mountain Solar Energy Project – prior to the Supervisors next regular meeting on August 23rd when a decision will be made.


The Bechtel Corporation received approval from the BLM to develop Soda Mountain Solar Energy. The 3-square mile photovoltaic project would be located approximately 6 miles southwest of the town of Baker and within a mile of the boundary of the Mojave National Preserve. The site would cover both sides of highway 15 and be clearly visible from the Preserve.

Soda Mountain Solar proposes to be located within the approximately 25,000 acres in San Bernardino County identified as “unallocated lands” in the DRECP (Desert Renewable Energy Plan.) A vast majority of the “unallocated lands” are located in rural living and conservation areas. Permitting use of these vulnerable lands will undermine the County’s zoning and natural resources authority. Other industrial scale energy project proposals are certain to follow.

It is now the County’s turn to consider the Environmental Impact Report for final project approval of Soda Mountain. Supervisors can show leadership by sending a clear message to the BLM that the County protects the interests of citizens and the area’s natural resources by denying this inappropriately placed industrial scale project.

MBCA’s Call for Action on Soda Mountain is posted on the MBCA website. It contains the letter MBCA sent to the Supervisions sent July 4, 2016, as well as a model letter. A personal letter in your own words is most powerful. If you wish, use elements of the model letter to write your own – or print it out and add your own handwritten note. Remember to sign the letter, include your street & e-mail address and mail it to MBCA by August 19 at: PO Box 24, Joshua Tree, CA 92252.

If you can get friends and neighbors to sign the letter, please mail as many copies as you can collect! Letters need to arrive at the MBCA P.O. Box by August 19 to be hand delivered to the County Supervisors in advance of their meeting date. We will also forward copies to Congressman Cook and Senator Feinstein. Our goal is to have dozens, or better yet hundreds of letters in this package! If you are able, print copies of the letter for your friends and neighbors to sign and include them when you mail yours to MBCA.

Any letters received by MBCA after August 19th will be forwarded to the Supervisors by mail or scanned for e-mail delivery.

In addition to written comment, is also important for us to fill the Supervisors Chambers and the overflow rooms in San Bernardino for the Tuesday, August 23rd Supervisors meeting. The meeting begins at 10:00 AM. A strong collective presence in opposition will provide Supervisors further justification to vote to deny the project. The Supervisors will decide on the future of Soda Mountain and they need to know their constituents care in significant numbers and they have definite opinions! (Additional background on Soda Mountain is provided at the end of this email.)

Big Bear Lake Xeriscape Garden Tour   
We know how much you enjoy MBCA’s annual Landscape Tour. Here’s an opportunity to escape the desert heat and experience the Big Bear Xeriscape Tour next Saturday, July 16th. For latest information: Big Bear Garden tour
MBCA Founder Susan Luckie Reilly celebrated
MBCA Board of Directors joined other community members and the family of Susan Luckie Reilly to celebrate Susan’s 100th birthday. Susan, the founder of the MBCA and a great source of inspiration for today’s desert activists. We have posted Susan’s bio on our website with photos of the birthday gathering. Thanks for taking your time to read this E-Blast and also hopefully acting to express opposition to Soda Mountain Solar Energy – let’s provide encouragement and support for the Supervisors to take a stand on behalf of their constituents and deny this and any future industrial projects proposed for pristine desert areas! There are good places for solar panels – on rooftops!
Basin and Range Watch has chronicled the history of this project and the damaging impacts to natural resources should Soda Mountain Solar move forward – including certain harm to the hinder bighorn mountain sheep by interrupting a significant genetic corridor connecting their mountain ranges in Mojave National Preserve and Death Valley National Park. Groundwater studies also remain controversial as pumping will be needed during construction and operation so close to highly rare and local Mojave tui chub fish populations nearby.
LADWP had initially signed on to be the main utility to purchase energy from Soda Mountain. However, a year ago LADWP determined that the project would be too damaging to the mountain sheep, as well as the energy generated would be too expensive. LADWP owns the transmission lines that run through the area servicing Soda Mountain. If LADWP finds the project too damaging, so should our County Supervisors!
Supervisors will consider job creation in their decision making process. However, minimal long-term employment would be created from the Soda Mountain Solar Project. Other than representatives of the project developer Bechtel, only labor unions have spoken in favor of the project. County residents have spoken clearly and overwhelmingly that solar panels belong on rooftops, NOT on the fragile desert floor! It is possible to provide jobs without sacrificing the environment.
Neil Nadler in Lucerne Valley reports: There are 11,880 buildings in San Bernardino County totaling approximately 8,400 acres under roof and few of these currently utilize solar for electricity. If these roofs had solar panels installed it would generate over 1,400 MW of electricity. This Commercial Roof Top alternative would generate more local jobs, and be cleaner and safer for the environment, at a lower cost than utilizing the hundred-year-old transmission line technology and destroying the same or more acreage in the high desert of San Bernardino County. www.mbconservation.org MBCA advocates for a healthy desert environment that nurtures our rural character, cultural wealth and economic well-being.

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