The Mojave Desert in California is undergoing a boom in renewable energy, mostly in the form of utility-scale solar power plants. These projects have met with resistance from diverse groups concerned about impacts on desert landscapes, ecosystems, water resources, archaeological sites, military training exercises, and other natural and cultural resources and land uses. This paper explores the current debate over renewable energy in the Mojave in the context of the region’s broader environmental history. What do Californians want from the Mojave Desert? We conclude that residents of the state want many things from the Mojave, but it remains unclear whether a desert under increasing pressure will be able to supply all of those competing demands.

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