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California Desert District
Release Date: 11/30/12
Contacts: David Briery , 951-697-5220  
  Stephen Razo , 951-697-5217  
News Release No. CA-CDD-13-19

BLM Releases Final Environmental Review for West Chocolate Mountains Renewable Energy Evaluation Area in Imperial County

As part of President Obama’s “all of the above” strategy for developing appropriate domestic energy resources, the Bureau of Land Management today released an evaluation of the potential environmental impacts of renewable energy testing and development in the West Chocolate Mountains Renewable Energy Evaluation Area (REEA) of Imperial County, California.

The Final Environmental Impact Statement (Final EIS) and Proposed California Desert Conservation Plan Amendment analyze the potential impacts of making 20,762 acres of BLM-managed surface lands in the REEA available for testing and developing solar and wind energy facilities and for leasing 19,162 acres of federal mineral estate near Niland, Calif., for geothermal energy testing and development.  The Final EIS also analyzes the potential environmental impacts of approving a pending geothermal lease application in the REEA.

The preferred alternative in the Final EIS would open the REEA to geothermal energy development and create a new Solar Energy Zone there, providing incentives for future solar development in the area.

“We want to make sure that we’re developing energy in the right way and in the right places on our nation’s public lands,” said BLM-California State Director Jim Kenna. “This thorough environmental review and public process helps identify, on a landscape-level, the areas that make most sense for renewable energy development in this part of the desert.”

If a Solar Energy Zone is created, any proposed renewable energy project would undergo a site-specific environmental review.  Under the preferred alternative, the BLM would restrict development around riparian areas and in sensitive habitat within the REEA, and would not allow certain renewable energy technologies, such as wind turbines, that would conflict with local military operations.

Publication of the Federal Register Notice of Availability for the Final EIS/Proposed Plan Amendment will begin a 30-day protest and governor’s consistency review period, after which the BLM may issue a Record of Decision. 

For more information contact Sandra McGinnis, Project Manager, California State Office at (916) 978-4427 or email:


California Desert District   22835 Calle San Juan de Los Lagos      Moreno Valley, CA 92553  

Last updated: 06-12-2013