The Honorable Jerry Brown
Governor of California
State Capitol Building
Sacramento, CA 95814
Re: AB 1073 (Fuentes) – REQUEST FOR VETO
Dear Governor Brown:
I write to respectfully request you to veto AB 1073, by Assemblymember Fuentes. This bill would benefit a single proposed solar photovoltaic project – the Calico Solar Project, by allowing it to circumvent the standard environmental review by local and state agencies. Instead it allows this controversial project to return to the California Energy Commission (CEC), alone, for review. The CEC did not adequately address the Calico project’s environmental impacts when it was before them as a solar thermal project and there is no indication the CEC will do better the second time around.
The Calico Solar Project is a highly controversial large-scale solar project, located in the biologically critical and ecologically intact Pisgah Valley in the heart of the California Desert. Despite very strong concerns repeatedly raised by environmental groups throughout the federal permitting process as well as the state process, the project developers have ignored their input and continued to pursue this location.
There is a way to site these large-scale facilities so we can have clean energy and a healthy environment. Unfortunately, the 4,613 acre Calico Solar Project does not strike this balance. It will unnecessarily destroy thousands of acres of high quality habitat for many declining species including the threatened desert tortoise, Mojave fringe-toed lizard, and Nelson’s bighorn sheep. This project is the subject of active litigation; Defenders of Wildlife, the Natural Resources Defense Council and Sierra Club filed federal litigation over the federal government’s approval of this project just last month.
Contrary to how it was portrayed by some proponents of AB 1073, the Calico project was intentionally left out of CEQA streamlining granted to five non-controversial solar projects under last year’s SB 226 because of potential impacts and controversy surrounding Calico. Bringing forward AB 1073 now undermines the good faith negotiations in which the environmental community was engaged just last session, and threatens some of southern California’s most critical habitat.
For these reasons, we to veto AB 1073.
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