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Soda Mountain solar project derailed by San Bernardino County’s EIR rejection

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By Jim Steinberg, The Sun

SAN BERNARDINO >> The proposed Soda Mountain Solar Power Plant was seriously derailed when San Bernardino County supervisors voted 3-2 to reject the plant’s environmental report.

There’s no clear path for developers to get their project back on track after Tuesday’s decision, at least at its current location.

Soda Mountain, which was proposed for 2,000 acres of federal Bureau of Land Management property 6 miles southwest of Baker, had secured all necessary federal approvals when a decision was made in April 2015 that ultimately gave the supervisors a deciding voice in whether the project went forward.

That’s when Janice Schneider, assistant secretary for Land and Minerals Management in the Department of Interior included provisions in the BLM’s final approval, stipulating that developers must secure all state and county permits before any ground-disturbing activities may occur on public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management.

That made county approval of the state portion of the environmental impact report essential for construction to start. And the county, acting as the lead agency for the state, declined to accept the EIR on Tuesday.

Board of Supervisors Chairman James Ramos said Wednesday that the decision was final.

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