Excerpt from: CREDO Action
Protect Joshua Tree!
Development plans for the same plot of land neighboring Joshua Tree that was once considered for the site of a garbage dump are threatening the park once again.
Eagle Crest Energy is one step away from full approval to develop a giant hydropower plant — which would require pumping 9 billion gallons of water from precious desert aquifers and groundwater sources — on land that is surrounded on three sides by Joshua Tree National Park.1
The National Park Service opposed this plan, but it was still approved by President Obama’s Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Now, the Bureau of Land Management is considering final approval to build the plant’s infrastructure — water pipelines and power lines — through federal lands.
This project, in the site of an inactive iron ore mine that was carved out of Joshua Tree in the 1950s, poses myriad threats to Joshua Tree’s precious ecosystem and wildlife through depleting water sources, introducing invasive species, and the risk of contaminating the underground water with toxic pollution leftover from decades of mining.2
Despite — or perhaps because of — these impacts, the site’s owners wouldn’t allow federal regulators access to the property to conduct an environmental assessment, resulting in an analysis which the Department of Interior criticized as insufficient and relying on “stale data.”
Astonishingly, the Bureau of Land Management, part of the same agency that criticized the environmental analysis, is now relying on that very analysis in its decision on granting the infrastructure right-of-way!
The site’s developers say that this pumped storage hydropower plant would serve an important purpose by helping to store excess solar power generated during the day for use at night. And it’s absolutely true that we will need more energy storage as we shift toward wind and solar energy. But surely we can accomplish that goal without endangering Joshua Tree’s ecosystem or precious desert water supplies.
The Eagle Mountain site was supposed to be given back to the National Park Service when mining operations were complete. Instead, the former mining company has held the land and first tried to develop a garbage dump, then sold it to Eagle Crest Energy for the hydropower plant.3
It’s long past time for the Eagle Mountain site to be part of of the National Park — and part of protecting Joshua Tree, not threatening delicate park ecosystems.
The Bureau of Land Management represents our last chance to stop this project and is taking comments through May 10.
- Take action now by going to CREDO Action and commenting to the the Department of Interior:
- The Eagle Mountain hydropower plant is a threat to Joshua Tree National Park. Don’t approve the infrastructure for this plant. The Eagle Mountain site should be given back to Joshua Tree National Park and protected, not allowed to threaten precious park ecosystems.
Thanks for speaking out.
Elijah Zarlin, Director of Climate Campaigns
CREDO Action from Working Assets
Learn more about this campaign
“Joshua Tree can’t stop Eagle Mountain hydropower plant,” The Desert Sun, 4/27/16.
“Our Voice: Powerplant not best use for Eagle Mountain,” The Desert Sun, 10/27/15.
“Eagle Mountain hydropower plant takes big step forward,” The Desert Sun, 7/1/15.
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