By Staff Reports
(Victor Valley)– Rep. Paul Cook (R- Apple Valley) today praised the decision by agency officials responsible for developing the California Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP) to make significant changes to the plan. Last month, Rep. Cook sent a letter to U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Sally Jewell requesting modifications to the DRECP after serious concerns were raised by residents and local government officials in his district.
In a press release issued earlier today, the US Bureau of Land Management (BLM), US Fish and Wildlife Service, California Energy Commission, and California Department of Fish and Wildlife announced plans to implement the DRECP in three phases: the BLM Land Use Plan Amendment; federal General Conservation Plan; and the state Natural Community Conservation Plan. Under this framework, the BLM plan would be completed first because it applies only to renewable energy development on federal lands. Such a move gives additional time for DRECP planners and local agencies to address concerns affecting private property.
Cook said, “In my letter to Secretary Jewell, I asked for more time to develop this plan at the local level. The County of San Bernardino and the residents of my district felt like the DRECP was being shoved down our throats. That is not how you make sound public policy. We need more local input and I’m glad DRECP planners recognize the need as well.”
The purpose of the DRECP is to formulate appropriate development of renewable energy projects in the California desert. Nearly 22.5 million acres of federal, state, and private lands are within the plan’s footprint, and over half of that acreage is located in San Bernardino County. Under the provisions of the plan, areas designated as Development Focus Areas would be recommended as suitable locations for renewable energy projects.
After the Draft DRECP was revealed to the public last September, many residents and communities affected by the plan voiced serious concerns about the long-term impact of large-scale energy development. A common theme emerged from these comments: Better coordination with state and federal agencies is needed to address local needs with regard to renewable energy planning.
Cook said, “In the first 5 months after the draft plan was released, more than 12,000 comments and opinions were received. It’s important that we listen to all the points of view expressed and ensure that we come up with a balanced approach that takes into account energy needs, while also protecting wildlife and recreation.”