Mr. Salazar is expected to sign off on perhaps five more projects this year; the combined long-term output of all the plants would be four times that of the first two.
…Mr. Salazar emphasized that the Lucerne Valley and Imperial Valley projects had the support of the Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council, Defenders of Wildlife and the Wilderness Society.
Both projects were altered to meet environmental objections: they have a smaller footprint than was originally planned and now include greater commitments to mitigate the impact on species like the endangered desert tortoise. Imperial uses minimal water, a scarce resource in the desert. Still, local desert-protection groups remain opposed, and representatives of large environmental groups expressed support in carefully parsed statements.
“These projects were not selected by us,” said Johanna Wald, a senior lawyer with the Natural Resources Defense Council. “They are, as it were, the cards that we were dealt. So we are doing the best that we can by working with the companies, working with the agencies,” to “make them as good as they can be.”