Report Jul 23, 2012

Solar Energy, National Parks, and Landscape Protection in the Desert Southwest

Solar energy is one of our country’s most promising industries for reducing America’s current reliance on coal-fired power plants that contribute to unhealthy air quality in communities across the country, as well as our national parks.

NPCA advocates for establishing smart environmental policies and mitigation strategies for solar energy projects to bring clean, renewable solar energy to market more quickly without compromising the natural resources and recreational values of natural areas such as national parks.

Solar Energy, National Parks, and Landscape Protection in the Desert Southwest describes the diverse, abundant natural resources found within the Mojave and Sonoran Deserts—areas targeted for large-scale solar developments—and explains how inappropriately sited solar developments would irreparably harm these resources. The report centers on case studies of three approved solar facilities, examining the impacts these facilities are likely to have on plants, wildlife, water sources, and scenic vistas. The report outlines how some of the facilities’ plans were altered to reduce such impacts. It also offers a series of recommendations that encourages federal and state agencies to work with each other and other stakeholders to evaluate solar development proposals; urges management agencies to gather comprehensive data on resources that could be affected by proposed solar facilities; and, perhaps most importantly, implores management agencies to smartly site solar developments on previously disturbed lands and areas that have been deemed appropriate for such developments.