Renewable Energy Must Get Priority Over Conservation
In a redux of the Cape Wind debacle and other misguided public opposition, (previous article) dumb environmentalism is again standing in the way of humanity’s Bright Green future. A utility-scale solar plant is now being held up over a few dozen tortoises. And it’s not the only one. The government is now sitting on 150 applications for solar plants. And what happens now could have an impact on all of those projects.
The Bureau of Land Management has received more than 150 applications for large-scale solar projects on 1.8 million acres of federal land in California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and Utah. In California alone, such projects could claim an area the size of Rhode Island, transforming the state into the world’s largest solar farm.
BrightSource Energy wants permission to construct three solar power plants on the site that together would generate enough power each year for 142,000 homes, potentially generating billions of dollars of revenue over time.
The sun’s power is used to heat water and make steam, which in turn drives turbines to create electricity. Built in phases, the project would include seven, 459-foot metal towers, a natural gas pipeline, water tanks, steam turbine generators, boilers and buildings for administration and maintenance. Each plant would be surrounded by 8-foot high steel fencing.
The site has virtually unbroken sunshine most of the year, and is near transmission lines that can carry the power to consumers.
We must do the right thing. Which is whatever it takes to get these projects fast-tracked.
BrightSource President John Woolard warned in government filings released last month that heavy-handed regulation could kill the proposal. He did not mention the tortoises directly but referred to “unbounded and extreme” requirements being placed on the company.
At a time when the White House is pushing for the rapid development of green power, Woolard predicted the outcome in the California desert would reverberate widely.
The large-scale solar industry “is in its infancy, with great promise to compete with conventional energy,” Woolard wrote. “Overburdening this fledgling industry will cause it to be stillborn, ending that promise before it has truly begun.”
TheÂ Sierra Club wants regulators to move the site closer toÂ Interstate 15, the busy freeway connectingÂ Los Angeles and Las Vegas, to avoid what it says will be a virtual death sentence for the tortoises. Estimates of the population have varied, but government scientists say at least 25 would need to be captured and moved.
I find myself siding here with opponents of government regulation. We need to cut this red tape, now. The Sierra Club should know better, and prioritize their goals. We need to save humans first, then we can worry about the rest of the species.
I’m not unsympathetic to the need for preserving biodiversity. But climate change will kill more species than the Sierra Club can possibly imagine. Some people over there need to see the bigger picture, and fast.