By Staff Reports
(Victor Valley)– The San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday rejected a controversial solar project that gained national attention because of its impacts on sensitive areas of the Mojave Desert.
“For a variety of reasons, this is the wrong project in the wrong location,” Board of Supervisors Vice Chairman Robert A. Lovingood said, referring to the Soda Mountain Solar Project, which was rejected on a 3-2 vote following roughly four hours of public comment and discussion.
The three-square-mile project site is on federal land along Interstate 15 near the entrances to Joshua Tree National Park, Mojave National Preserve and Death Valley National Park. Solar projects, Lovingood said, are more appropriately suited for disturbed lands such as fallow agriculture lands, brown fields and former mine sites.
“It is hard to justify damaging sensitive desert lands when we have disturbed lands near transmission corridors that are ideally suited,” Lovingood said. “The fact that the state has warned of problems with the project gives us additional cause for concern.”
Supervisors noted that San Bernardino County residents would bear much of the burden of the project and see few benefits. The Board of Supervisors was asked to certify project documents under the California Environmental Quality Act, something the board declined to do.
During the marathon discussion, more than 2,500 petition signatures were submitted from opponents of the project. The controversial project has received opposition from more than 70 noted scientists, former National Parks superintendents and others who said the location is one of the worst locations possible to build an industrial-scale solar project.
The 2,059-acre project site is located entirely on BLM-administered land in a rural area of the Mojave Desert, approximately six miles southwest of Baker and approximately 50 miles northeast of Barstow. Primary access to the Project site is from the Rasor Road exit from Interstate 15.