Energy & Environment

Big Solar threatens existence of rare desert tortoise

The desert tortoise, a threatened species protected by the federal government, is fighting for its existence against the expanding encroachment of Big Solar into its native habitat of the Mojave Desert in California.

The battle between environmental groups and the fledgling green energy industry has prompted a lawsuit against the government to block the multi-billion dollar Calico Solar Power project, which would cover 4,000 acres of the turtle’s vital habitat.

The green groups want the company to relocate from its seven-mile campus to a less sensitive desert area.

This isn’t the first time the turtles have been threatened by the towering solar mirrors. When the $2.2 billion BrightSource Energy solar complex was recently constructed, the company spent $56 million to protect and relocate the reptiles, although at least one was accidently killed when it was run over by a vehicle.

The protection included a 50-mile fence costing $50,000 per mile to keep the relocated tortoises from moving back to their home.

The desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii) is the official reptile of California, and the first critter to be highlighted in a Human Events’ periodic feature on the absurd state of the Endangered Species Act and the state of mammals, birds, snails, insects, crustaceans, coral, flowers and plants it protects.

Nearly 1,400 species are on the list as threatened or endangered, while 19 species have since “recovered” and 10 were delisted for “extinction.”

Some question the recovered and extinction numbers. For example, the Maguire Daisy is listed as recovered but was never in danger of extinction and should never have been on the list. The Caribbean monk seal, listed as extinct, has only been seen five miles off the coast of Florida, and that was in 1906.

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