Thursday, March 20, 2014

Emergency Motion Filed to Protect the Desert Tortoise

On behalf of Defenders of Wildlife, we filed a motion for a preliminary injunction in Los Angeles on Wednesday to prevent work from starting on two massive solar facilities on public lands in the Mojave desert habitat of the imperiled Desert Tortoise. Although the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service found that these facilities will impair the last remaining effective Tortoise habitat corridor in the Ivanpah Valley, the federal government has approved the projects, and absent a Court Order the solar company will begin work on the sites, which will include “translocating” adult Tortoises, and crushing and killing smaller Tortoises, hatchlings and eggs.  We have requested a hearing by March 31, 2014, and in exchange the solar company has agreed not to begin work until April 3. Our motion is here.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Suit Filed To Protect The Threatened Desert Tortoise

On behalf of Defenders of Wildlife, we filed a lawsuit in the Central District of California today against the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), over their recent approvals of two massive solar facilities to be built in the dwindling remaining Ivanpah Valley habitat of the imperiled Desert Tortoise – the Silver State South Solar Project near Primm, Nevada, and Stateline Solar Farm Project in San Bernardino, California.  Although the FWS had earlier rejected one of these projects because it will destroy the last functioning habitat linkage for the Tortoise in the Valley, both that agency and the BLM inexplicably signed-off on both projects, ignoring the devastating impacts they will have on the species.  These impacts include destroying over 4,000 acres of Tortoise habitat and severing habitat linkages; killing hundreds of Tortoises during operation and construction of the facilities, including inevitably failed efforts to “translocate” tortoises from the project areas; and further impairing one of the last refuges for a species that already faces a bleak future, given the increasing temperatures and decreasing precipitation anticipated in their habitat in coming years.  The lawsuit requests that the Court set aside the agencies’ approvals of the two projects until BLM and FWS meaningfully analyze the impacts the facilities will have on the Tortoise, which has not been done to date.  A copy of the Complaint is here.