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Solar Lake Effect Leads To Lawsuit


Last updated 7/16/2015 at 1:23pm

Two federal agencies are named in a possible lawsuit by the Center for Biological Diversity which claims they have failed to protect an endangered bird (Yuma clapper rail) at desert Solar projects. Over the past 15 months one of these birds has been found dead at the 550-megawatt Desert Sunlight project in eastern Riverside County, while the other dead bird turned up at the 150-megawatt Solar Gen 2 project in Imperial County. Both plants are being built by First Solar and use photovoltaic technology. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service there are fewer than 1,000 Yuma clapper rails left in the wild. Water birds, including the Yuma clapper rails can be killed when they mistake large fields of Solar panels for lakes. A notice of Intent to sue FWS and the Bureau of Land Management has been issued by the Center of Biological Diversity, which gives the agencies 60 days to take action before the Center officially files. If the agencies move to protect the Yuma clapper rails before then, the lawsuit would be rendered unnecessary. According to Ileene Anderson, a senior scientist with the Center for Biological Diversity, the Yuma clapper rail is a bellwether for the health of desert waterways, including the Colorado River. “If the Yuma clapper rail is going downhill, it means there’s definitely something wrong with what’s happening on the river.”


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