U.S. solar strategy focuses on deserts

Oct. 28, 2011 at 1:45 PM
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WASHINGTON, Oct. 28 (UPI) -- The Obama administration has announced a strategy for solar energy development, with projects on 285,000 acres of desert land in the western United States.

The administration also announced "solar energy zones" set up by the Bureau of Land Management in 20 millions acres of the Mojave Desert and other areas of the west, intended to encourage development in areas without environmental or cultural conflicts, the Los Angeles Times reported Friday.

The zones are areas that have already met environmental requirements and therefore promise expedited permitting of solar energy projects, U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said.

The 17 solar energy zones in six western states were selected for their absence of major environmental or cultural obstacles to development.

"These 445 square miles of zones are … where development will be driven," Salazar said.

Conservation groups criticized the proposals, contending that deserts, home to scores of endangered plants and animals, are not capable of absorbing industrial-scale change

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