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There's a storm brewing the Mojave Desert -- environmentalists are fighting green power advocates to block construction of 13 alternative energy projects.  (Source: New Cover Magazine)

Led by Senator Dianne Feinstein, environmentalists have succeeded in essentially killing the projects, before the bill to protect the land has even passed.  (Source: Fox News)
Senator is concerned that the plants would damage wildlife

The alternative energy, battery, and alternative fuels movement has been largely guided and advocated by environmentalists over the last couple decades.  However, another important guiding force are those who merely want to improve efficiency and move us, for economic reasons, from depletable resources to sustainable ones.

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 the desert.

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 national monuments.

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 the monument.

Karen Douglas, chairwoman of the California Energy Commission comments, "The very existence of the monument proposal has certainly chilled development within its boundaries."

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. Period."

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 review."

He says that the proposal will make it much more difficult for California to achieve its goal of having a third of its power provided by alternative energy by 2020.  BrightSource has canceled a large project planned for the monument area.

The Mojave 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 future.

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RE: Large-scale green power
By daemonios on 12/22/2009 12:09:31 PM , Rating: 2
Sure, it's the opposite of NIMBY (not in my back yard). But there should be some clear-cut cases where the value of undeveloped land to the community trumps the value of these projects. In other cases it's a matter of discussing things reasonably and objectively.

In Portugal municipalities get a clean 2.5% of the income from wind generators in their area. Recently the intention was announced to ban wind farms in areas which are already designated for protection. The result, of course, was that the municipalities went ballistic.

RE: Large-scale green power
By Suntan on 12/22/2009 1:45:08 PM , Rating: 2
But there should be some clear-cut cases where the value of undeveloped land to the community trumps the value of these projects.

Yes, there is always "eminent domain" that allows the government to do what has to be done to benefit the majority, but government officials don’t get put into office by the majority anymore. They get put into office by appeasing the minority groups so they will shut up and sit down, thereby making the candidate look like the “lesser of two evils” in the eyes of the majority of voters.

In other cases it's a matter of discussing things reasonably and objectively.

Sorry, you just aren’t going to get this with people out in California. A good many of them just do not have the mental capability to understand that they can’t have their cake and eat it too. Which is to say, they can’t live in an area with no resources and then expect to get those resources without causing a negative impact in other areas.

When the people aren’t capable of figuring it out themselves, don’t want to acknowledge it even if they could figure it out, and have a whole lot of Huffinton-types telling them it is someone else’s fault, there is no hope that you can sit down and get them to be reasonable about it.


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