Solar Energy at the price of this little guy…
Those of you keeping track of tortoise news (come on I’m not the only one!) have likely heard about the BrightSource solar energy plant being built in California’s Mojave Desert. While the creation of such a plant seems vital to reducing oil dependence some have questioned if the venture is worth the potential demise of species of threatened tortoises and other plant and animal life.
Much debate surrounded the impact the solar plant would have on tortoises in the area, specifically the threatened desert tortoise. In order to move forward with construction, BrightSource had to agree to invest 40 million dollars in plant and animal conservation including transmitters for all tortoises, relocation of the tortoises, and the creation of a multi-acre nature preserve. Relocation cannot be done during the winter so the tortoises are currently being moved to pens to be released into their new location in the spring. Though this seems like a reasonable effort on the part of BrightSource, biologists conducting threat assessments and working on relocation efforts have stated that its not enough and that these tortoises will surely die away. Increased traffic in the area has also led to an increase in injures from encounters between the tortoises and motor vehicles.
While I hope the biologist’s are just a cynical bunch, its still hard to stomach when looking at a little guy like the one pictured. Its stories like this that remind me that when it comes to environmentalism, at this point its almost always gonna be a catch 22.