July 31, 2011 (Sacramento) -- The Federal and State Renewable Energy Action Team (REAT) launched a joint environmental review for the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP or Plan) that seeks to streamline permitting of renewable energy facilities for seven counties in the California desert, including San Diego and Imperial Counties.
Public meetings are set for August 16 and 24, with written comments encouraged for those who cannot attend.
The DRECP is focused on desert regions and adjacent lands of San Diego, Imperial, Inyo, Kern, Los Angeles, Riverside, and San Bernardino Counties. It is being prepared through an unprecedented collaborative effort between the California Energy Commission, California Department of Fish and Game, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service known as the REAT.
The REAT is preparing a joint Environmental Impact Report and Environmental Impact Statement (EIR/EIS) for the DRECP, and the Bureau of Land Management’s proposed amendment to the California Desert Conservation area (CDCA) Plan.
Agencies are looking for public participation as they begin this process, and will hold three public meetings in August to gather input on the proposed Plan. But although some of the largest desert projects are slated for our region, none of the meetings are being held in San Diego or Imperial Counties. The meetings are set for:
August 16, 2011, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Doubletree Ontario Hotel, Lake Gregory Ballroom, 222 N. Vineyard Ave., Ontario, CA 91764
August 24, 2011, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the California Energy Commission, Hearing Room A, 1516 Ninth St., Sacramento, CA 95814
August 24, 2011, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the California Energy Commission, Hearing Room A, 1516 Ninth St., Sacramento, CA 95814
Remote Attendance and Availability of Documents
Presentations and audio from the scoping meetings will be broadcast by WebEx web meeting service. For details on how to participate by WebEx, please see www.drecp.org/meetings.
All interest parties are invited to provide comments and information regarding species to be covered, the range of alternatives to analyze and other issues associated with the DRECP and possible CDCA amendment during the comment period. Comments and information will be accepted until September 12, 2011. Comments will be accepted in writing at the scoping meetings and may also be sent to the contacts listed below.
Written comments may be submitted to Jim Bartel, Field Supervisor, Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office, 6010 Hidden Valley Rd., Suite 101, Carlsbad, CA 92011. You may also submit comments by email to FW8DRECP@fws.gov, and include “Scoping Comments” in the subject line, or by facsimile to 760-431–5902.
Comments may also be submitted in writing to California Energy Commission, Dockets Office, MS-4, Docket No. 09-RENEW E0-01, Scoping Comments, 1516 Ninth St., Sacramento CA 95814-5512. Or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org, and include “Docket No. 09-RENEW EO-01/Scoping” in the subject line, or by facsimile to Kristy Chew at 916-654-4421.
At the close of the public comment period, all written comments received by the Federal and State lead agencies will be posted on the internet at http://www.drecp.org/document. For more information about the DRECP or instructions on submitting a written comment, visit www.drecp.org. The REAT anticipates releasing a draft DRECP EIR/EIS for public review and comment in the summer 2012. The final EIR/EIS is expected to be completed at the end of 2012 and, if approved, permits are expected to be issued at the beginning of 2013.
The DRECP claims it will “result in an efficient and effective biological mitigation and conservation program providing renewable project developers with permit timing and cost certainty under the Federal and California Endangered Species Acts while at the same time preserving, restoring and enhancing natural communities and related ecosystems.”
Approximately 22.5 million acres of Federal and non-Federal California desert land in parts of Imperial, Inyo, Kern, Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino, and San Diego counties are in the DRECP planning area.