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10/15/2010

No One Said Clean Energy Would Be Easy — a Memo on Ivanpah from Robin Mann and Michael Brune

No one said that clean energy would be easy.

After much deliberation, the Board of Directors made a difficult decision this week not to try to block BrightSource Energy's Ivanpah solar project in the Mojave Desert.

Club volunteers and staff have worked tirelessly to reconfigure Ivanpah in a way that would do the least harm to the desert tortoise and the surrounding ecosystem. Unfortunately Brightsource is moving forward with a plan that causes unnecessary harm to species. 

The Board of Directors has decided not to pursue litigation at this time. This battle has already been costly, and we must now rely on the federal agencies to require that Brightsource come around, so that we can focus our resources and attention to making sure that future large-scale renewable energy projects are built in a more responsible manner. We will continue to work with the Interior Department and Brightsource to improve the project in any way we can.

The Sierra Club remains deeply committed to moving America off of dirty energy quickly and responsibly, and that will include building large-scale renewable energy projects in the smartest way possible — by eliminating or minimizing harm to wildlife and natural resources.

Because the Sierra Club has a long history of protecting wildlife and public lands, as well as a record of winning fights against dirty energy, we are in a unique position to make sure clean energy projects are built responsibly. We are also in a tough position; we urgently need to get clean energy up to scale, and that means we will face more difficult decisions about where to put large renewable projects. 

There are solutions to this conflict. As we showed with our proposed reconfiguration of Ivanpah, there is a way to balance clean energy development with the protection of our wildlife and natural resources.

We thank all of the volunteers and staff members who have dedicated years — and tears — to the Ivanpah fight. There will be more battles ahead, and we hope we can count on you to lead us to clean energy solutions.

The Ivanpah project has received occasional media attention over the past few months and will likely receive more. You can find our approved talking points in Clubhouse.

But please note that we are the only official Club spokespeople on this issue, along with Clean Energy Solutions Senior Representative Barb Boyle. Please direct any inquiries you may receive to Senior Press Secretary Kristina Johnson at (415) 977-5619.

Onward,

Robin Mann, Sierra Club President
Michael Brune, Sierra Club Executive Director

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