The state’s goal of 100% clean energy by 2045 puts enormous pressure on our desert from “Big Solar.” But the sun shines everywhere, and the best way to reduce the need for large-scale solar is by putting solar on our houses, parking lots, warehouses, etc in urban areas — where the power is used.

Now the Calif Public Utilities Commission wants to protect utility profits and is poised in the next weeks to kill rooftop solar. The ask is for everyone to please sign this petition below to Gov. Newsom to protect rooftop solar. Save California Solar has 50,000 signatures, are aiming for 100,000 by Thanksgiving, and will deliver the comments on 12/1 to influence the proposed decision expected to come out on 12/10. Can you please sign and share widely to everyone you know?

Backstory: thanks to all who helped stop AB 1139 the bill to kill rooftop solar in California. Now the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) is poised to do the exact same thing. Kill rooftop solar in California and justify it on the lie that there is a cost shift. But the recent Vibrant Clean Energy study shows how solar can help cut consumers' energy bills by $120B over the next thirty years. Unfortunately, the CPUC has been a captive agency for the utilities for a long time and has failed to protect us ratepayers from the wildfires and blackouts and high transmission charges imposed by the utilities. And the Governor needs to hear from us!

Please sign the petition below and share widely. Thank you.


The Significance of AB 1183 for Desert Conservation

from the Mojave Desert Land Trust

On September 28th, desert conservation efforts in California received a great boost. Assembly Bill 1183, introduced by Assembly Member James C. Ramos, was signed into law, establishing the California Desert Conservation Program under the Wildlife Conservation Board. The statute goes into effect on January 1, 2022. Creation of the program will provide conservation funding for the Mojave and Eastern Colorado Deserts.
The purpose of the Desert Conservation Program is to:
(1) protect, preserve, and restore the natural, cultural, and physical resources of the portions of the Mojave and Colorado Deserts region in California through the acquisition, restoration, and management of lands, (2) promote the protection and restoration of the biological diversity of the region, as specified, (3) provide for resilience in the region to climate change, as provided, (4) protect and improve air quality and water resources within the region, and (5) undertake efforts to enhance public use and enjoyment of lands owned by the public, as provided. [Chapter 380, Legislative Counsel’s Digest]
The Program will allow Tribes, non-governmental organizations, and local governments to apply for funding for conservation and public access projects. Funding is expected to come primarily from bond measures. The need for a desert program has been demonstrated by the numerous threats the desert faces including climate change, increased wildfires, the spread of invasive species, and development. These threats have caused declines in desert tortoise, desert birds, and other species, and catastrophic wildfires including the Cima Dome fire that destroyed 43,000 acres of the world’s largest Joshua tree forest. The need to address public land use is demonstrated by the dramatic increase in visitation desert lands have experienced. For example, Joshua Tree National Park experienced a 129% increase in attendance between 2009 and 2019. Also, desert areas which are very popular and accessible, particularly for underserved communities, have few facilities to accommodate their use.
The time was right for state conservation funding to reach the desert. Thanks to our elected representatives and a broad coalition of groups focused on the desert – that time has arrived. The bill was co-sponsored by Mojave Desert Land Trust, Defenders of Wildlife, Vet Voice Foundation, and Hispanic Access Foundation.

Cannabis Grows across the Mojave Desert

This article by Timothy Worley appeared in the Fall 2021 issue of the Desert Report. It drew a comment letter that asked the following question:

Why arent these farms,” which are surveyed by aircraft and considering the amount of water they use, not just removed by law enforcement?

The following was written by Tim Worley in response:

Enforcement by the Sheriffs of Los Angeles and San Bernardino Counties has increased, partly in response to public pressure. On October 1 a bulletin from San Bernardino County reported on what it has named “Operation Hammer Strike,” an excerpt of which is copied below.

From Sept. 20 to 24, investigators from the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department - Marijuana Enforcement Team (MET) served 24 search warrants at various locations in Lucerne Valley, Wonder Valley, Apple Valley, Pinon Hills, Phelan, and Newberry Springs. MET personnel had received numerous complaints about large outdoor marijuana cultivations in these areas. Over this past week, 31 suspects were arrested, investigators seized more than 16,000 marijuana plants, almost 6,000 pounds of processed marijuana, seven guns, and $41,000. Investigators eradicated 101 greenhouses found at the locations. One of the seized handguns had the serial number ground off. Investigators mitigated one electrical bypass.

The increased attention by one sheriff’s department notwithstanding, practical problems of fragmented jurisdiction, competing priorities, and inadequate resources hinder enforcement. At least three different state agencies have some responsibility for cannabis enforcement in California, but their jurisdiction applies to only a slice of the overall problem:  licensing, or water diversion and pollution, or growing on public lands. Counties enforce local codes and laws, but with minimal penalties for marijuana violations, they may put a higher priority on other drugs. Investigation is difficult, requiring personnel and funding. Determining land ownership can be difficult in some desert locations.  Vocal support for protecting important environmental resources will be critical to ensure adequate resources are assigned to the difficult but vital task.


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