San Bernardino County is investing heavily to advance clean energy goals that are compatible with the state’s commitment to reduce the use of fossil fuels while balancing community concerns. After ten years of work, countless hours of County staff time and well over a million dollars worth of taxpayer money spent, the federal government is now threatening to upend all of this investment by throwing out Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan.
The Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP) is a ten-year-old effort that seeks to balance renewable energy development with conservation concerns on 11.5 million acres of state and federally owned public land. San Bernardino County, whose boundary constitutes 53% of the DRECP planning area, is one of seven counties participating in the effort. While no plan of this size is perfect, DRECP has settled many of the battles over industrial scale renewable energy across the California desert and hasn’t been subject to a single lawsuit. This is because a broad range of stakeholders, including federal, state and local governments, renewable energy developers, utilities, tribes and environmental groups, came together over eight years to develop the DRECP.