The vast, empty and barren desert terrain of southeastern California is looking mighty attractive to a number of energy interests looking to cash in on the renewable energy boom. The Bureau of Land Management currently has 125 pending applications for solar power plants in the deserts of California, Arizona and Nevada, as our state aims to reach a goal of 20% of its power being generated by renewable sources by 2010. The fight for desert land-at least 1 million acres are being considered for energy use-has brought together a strange mix of allies in opposition to the solar plants. Off-road vehicle enthusiasts and conservations, once mortal enemies, are now on the same page in opposing the flood of new desert solar power plants. But with the potential to generate 70 billion watts of clean, renewable energy, is this desert battle worth fighting?
* Steven Borchard, director of the Bureau of Land Management's California Desert District
* Stuart Hemphill, vice president of renewable & alternative power at Southern California Edison
* Terry Weiner, conservation coordinator for the Desert Protective Council