Realty Specialist, Ridgecrest Field Office, Bureau of Land Management
Terra-Gen Wind Farm, Tehachapi, California
Today Paul Rodriguez met with the westies to discuss the inside workings of the BLM. “That is my supervisor,” Paul said of his son happily drawing on scrap paper in the back of the room. Paul brought wit to the topic of going through the arduous process of navigating public lands’ restrictions. Currently he is working on proposed solar and wind projects. Before these projects go up they must satisfy both state and federal regulations. This means hundreds of pages of paperwork, including NEPA, EIS, etc. and lots of negotiations. Paul’s office due to limited budget is understaffed, so he has to work hard to keep up with the pressure of getting these things done to meet deadlines for alternative energy subsidies. But he doesn’t seem to mind: “I like the adventure; I like the craziness.” Paul said he switched from working in lands and minerals to alternative energy because it is an energy source he believes in. Alternative energy in this region is a contentious issue. Ridgecrest Field Office land houses both condors and desert tortoises; both of which are federally listed endangered species. In order to build energy projects on this land, developers must find a way to have no impact on these species. Wildlife activists are concerned that turbines pose a physical threat to the condors and that massive solar arrays ruin tortoise habitat. Paul said that a lot of alternative energy projects would never be built because of restrictions having to do with the endangered species act.
By Marijke E. Wijnen