Native Americans Sue to Block U.S. Solar Projects

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Native Americans are going to court to block the federal government from implementing plans to fast-track approval and construction of massive solar energy projects that the Indians fear will harm sacred and culturally significant sites in Western deserts, according to an AP report.

Recent lawsuits by two native groups pose a threat to half dozen proposed solar developments that the Obama administration has identified as a high priority in its quest for more clean energy production, one suit already has halted work on a major solar farm in Southern California. Land use and legal experts say the lawsuits mark a new phase in the historically contentious relationship between the federal Bureau of Land Management and American Indians, who in the past have gone to court to block oil, gas, mining and other energy projects on public lands managed by the agency.

President Obama’s goal of generating 80 percent of the nation’s electricity from clean energy sources by 2035 has led to numerous projects proposed on millions of acres of federally owned lands, most in Western states. The administration has put shovel-ready projects on the fast track for BLM permitting.

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