Boxer, Ruiz, Vargas Urge Secretary of Interior Jewell to Designate Salton Sea Lands as a Renewable Energy Area

Washington, DC - U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer and U.S. Representatives Raul Ruiz and Juan Vargas (all D-CA) today sent a letter to Secretary of Interior Sally Jewell, asking her to designate the lands at the Salton Sea as a renewable energy development focus area.

“This concept is an example of the creative, locally-driven solutions needed to address the complex problems facing the Sea,” the Members wrote.  

The letter follows a Congressional briefing that brought together a panel of local, state and federal representatives to discuss the future of the Salton Sea. During that briefing, Imperial Irrigation District’s (IID) General Manager, Kevin Kelley, presented a proposal to use renewable energy development focus  at the Sea to fund environmental mitigation and restoration work. Earlier today, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed by the Department of Interior and the Salton Sea Authority. 

In their letter to Secretary Jewell, the Members continued, “Designating a Salton Sea renewable energy area would fall in line with the Administration’s commitments to develop clean energy, and further give clarity to the Sea’s future.” 

To view video of the briefing, please click here

The full text of the letter follows: 

February 27, 2014  

The Honorable Sally Jewell
Secretary of the Interior
1849 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20240  

Dear Secretary Jewell:  

Today, we hosted a Congressional briefing that brought together a panel of local, state and federal representatives to discuss the Salton Sea and its future. During that briefing, Imperial Irrigation District’s (IID) General Manager, Kevin Kelley, presented a proposal to use renewable energy development at the Sea to fund environmental mitigation and restoration work. This concept is an example of the creative, locally-driven solutions needed to address the complex problems facing the Sea. As you continue work on the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan, we strongly encourage you to designate lands at the Salton Sea as a renewable energy development focus area to help facilitate this work.  

As you know, the Salton Sea has long languished in need of a long-term vision and implementable plan. In the face of constrained budgets at all levels of government, and the complexity of the task, movement on restoration efforts has been frustratingly slow. Yet, in the last year a new spirit of cooperation and collaboration has emerged from the Sea’s many stakeholders. As evidenced by today’s Memorandum of Understanding signed by the Department of Interior and the Salton Sea Authority, there is renewed commitment from all sides to turn the challenges at the Sea into an opportunity that benefits the entire region.  

We know you understand the risk that inaction at the Sea threatens us with. The time, effort, and attention that Assistant Secretary Anne Castle has dedicated to the issue is testament to that, as are the many hours of work of the U.S. Geological Survey, the Bureau of Reclamation, the staff of the Salton Sea National Wildlife Refuge, and other Interior staff have placed in California’s most unique body of water. We are proud of the work this Administration has done to develop clean, renewable energy that strengthens the American economy and its future. Designating a Salton Sea renewable energy development focus area would fall in line with the Administration’s commitments to develop clean energy, and further give clarity to the Sea’s future.  

Thank you for your time and consideration, we look forward to continuing to work together on solutions to address the Sea’s decline.  

Sincerely,  

Barbara Boxer
United States Senator  

Raul Ruiz, M.D.
Member of Congress

Juan Vargas
Member of Congress

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