The Obama administration says it plans to ramp up solar energy production on federal land in the Western United States.
In the plans unveiled Tuesday, the administration said it was opening up an additional 19 million acres of land in California's Mojave Desert for new solar power plants, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The plan places 445 square miles of public land in the West in play for utility-scale solar facilities but has backtracked on a long list of environmentally sensitive lands where the government had previously said it would allow solar development over the objections of environmentalists.
The plan establishes 17 solar energy zones in six Western states, including 154,000 acres in California, chosen because they avoided major environmental, cultural or other conflicts, the administration said.
Conservation groups had fought utility-scale projects in the region, arguing the desert, with scores of scores of endangered plants and animals, could not withstand the affects industrial-scale would bring.
The fast-tracking of solar facilities on public lands is expected to generate nearly 24,000 megawatts of power by 2030, Mike Pool, acting director of the Bureau of Land Management, said.
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