As the greentech movement gains
traction, those forces are finding themselves clashing more often,
and some environmentalists are finding it hard
to reconcile their loves of green technology and the
environment. A prime example of this is a brewing solar power
mess in California.
The Mojave Desert is located in
southeastern and central California, as well as Nevada. The
desert is home to Mojave National Preserve and Joshua Tree National
Park. The region also receives a tremendous
amount of sunlight and wind, so California, in its push to
embrace alternative power approved multiple projects to be built in
Now thanks to Senator Dianne Feinstein, 13 solar
and wind projects in the region may see
their hopes dashed. She has authored a bill which seeks to
block the projects, which she says is critical to protect millions of
acres of land. The bill would also create two new Mojave
Even before the bill sees a single vote,
it's already ruined many of the projects. Many of them have
been delayed indefinitely, and the Californian government has changed
its mind about routing new "green grid" power lines towards
Karen Douglas, chairwoman of the California
Energy Commission comments, "The very existence of the monument
proposal has certainly chilled development within its
The land covered in the debate was
originally owned by the Catellus Development Corporation. It
was then purchased by environmentalists and donated a decade ago to
the government to protect. Sen. Feinstein says she's just
making good on that promise.
She states, "The Catellus
lands were purchased with nearly $45 million in private funds and $18
million in federal funds and donated to the federal government for
the purpose of conservation, and that commitment must be upheld.
Robert F. Kennedy Jr., the environmentalist and
a partner with a venture capital firm that invested in a solar
developer called BrightSource Energy, blasted Sen. Feinstein's
actions, stating, "This is arguably the best solar land in the
world, and Senator Feinstein shouldn’t be allowed to take this land
off the table without a proper and scientific environmental
He says that the proposal will make it much more
difficult for California to achieve its goal of having a third of its
by alternative energy by 2020. BrightSource has canceled a
large project planned for the monument area.
desert, besides being ultra-sunny is home to a host of critters
including the desert tortoises, bighorn sheep, fringe-toed lizards
and other rare animals and plants. As green power advocates
seek to tap the abundant sunshine and wind energy across the country
and the environmentalists fight to block development to protect local
species, it seems that these
kinds of conflicts will only be growing more heated in the near
quote: I think the move will have to be for smaller-scale, decentralized generation.
quote: 1) Price: mass production of small generators will provide economies of scale
quote: larger commercial installations already have economies of scale in terms of getting equipment, and can achieve even better ones in terms of generating power, because they're producing megawatts, not kilowatts.
quote: Just because they're green doesn't mean it's OK to start building them in areas of natural and cultural interest.
quote: But there should be some clear-cut cases where the value of undeveloped land to the community trumps the value of these projects.
quote: In other cases it's a matter of discussing things reasonably and objectively.