Solar farm outside Joshua Tree National Park gets go-ahead from Trump administration

The Interior Department said Thursday (May 17, 2018)  it plans to approve the Palen solar farm, which would be built on public lands just south of Joshua Tree National Park, in the open desert east of the Coachella Valley. The 3,100-acre, 500-megawatt power plant would be one of the country’s largest solar projects, generating enough renewable energy to balance out the planet-warming emissions of 17,000 average Palm Springs homes.

But Palen has been criticized by some environmentalists, who say building a large industrial facility on the doorstep of the national park could have devastating impacts to natural ecosystems. They’re especially concerned the project would interrupt a sand transport corridor that feeds the sand-dune habitat of Mojave fringe-toed lizards, desert kit foxes and other species. Native American groups have criticized the proposed solar project as well, saying it would destroy ancient tribal artifacts and sacred sites.

 

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