California environmentalist sue to block Solar Farm, $1.8 billion 399MW project

It's kind of hard to get renewable energy, especially when various groups block projects based on the environmental impact.  It is really hard tto have zero environmental impact.  An example of the problem is in the SJ Mercury news article about a solar project facing a court battle.

Huge San Benito County solar farm proposal has its day in court

By Paul Rogers

Developer PV2 Energy of San Francisco is proposing to build a 399-megawatt solar farm over 3,200...

A proposal to build one of the world's largest solar farms south of Silicon Valley had its day in court Monday as a long-simmering battle between the Bay Area investors supporting the project and environmentalists who say it will harm wildlife finally came before a judge.

At the center of the debate is a $1.8 billion, 399-megawatt solar farm proposed for Panoche Valley, an arid expanse of rangeland and barbed wire 50 miles southeast of Hollister. Last year, the San Benito County Board of Supervisors voted to approve the project, saying it would make rustic San Benito County -- known more for its cattle and condors than computer chips -- a national center of clean energy.

What is the problem?  The environmentalist think this is the wrong place to put solar farm.

Society, the Sierra Club and a group of local residents known as Save Panoche Valley sued to block it, claiming the 4 million solar panels that would be constructed across the roughly 3,200 acres west of Interstate-5 would harm endangered species and disrupt the rural character of the area.

"Solar obviously is very critical. No one disputes the necessity for solar energy," said Rose Zoia of Santa Rosa, the attorney representing the three environmental groups, during oral arguments. "The issue here is that it is improper on this site."

This problem is occurring at other California projects.

The case is symbolic of a recent trend across California and other parts of the nation. As concerns over global warming have grown and with it, government and private funding for huge solar and wind projects, the main opponents have often been environmental groups. The issue has split the environmental movement. Some conservationists argue that they need to change their approach while others stick to the lawsuits they have traditionally used to block logging, mining and development.

Last month, for example, California Gov. Jerry Brown filed a brief asking a federal court to deny a request by an environmental group seeking an injunction to stop a $2.2 billion solar power project in the Mojave Desert. The Western Watersheds Project wants to stop construction of the 370-megawatt Ivanpah project because of desert tortoises at the site.