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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: Watermelon
By Solandri on 12/23/2009 1:19:11 AM , Rating: 2
If you cared to think about human need, you would understand that borders do not mean much to people who are in desperate need of employment in order to survive.

You're focusing on the symptom, not the problem. The real problem is corruption in the Mexican government. They country is pretty rich, with oil reserves that rank it #11 in the world, and it has a per capita GDP of ~$14,000 (PPP). But the high level of corruption has concentrated the money and power in a small fraction of the population. It has a rather high Gini coefficient of close to 50. Most Western countries, including Western Europe, Canada, Japan, and South Korea, are in the 20s or 30s. The U.S. is around 45, but that's offset by its $47,000 per capita GDP - even the poor people are relatively wealthy.

In addition, with regard to Mexico, international trade agreements (predominantly NAFTA), have uprooted millions of subsistence farmers in mid to southern Mexico, who have since migrated to where jobs exist, which happen to be in the US.

Eh? That's a new one. All the complaints I've heard about NAFTA so far were that it sent U.S. jobs to Mexico. Not vice versa.

Accepting immigrants from Mexico with open arms may temporarily ease the symptom, but it worsens the problem. The real solution is for the Mexican government to get its act cleaned up. And ultimately that sort of domestic issue needs to be solved domestically - by discontent Mexican citizens standing up for their rights and demanding change. Simply giving discontent Mexican citizens easier access to U.S. citizenship actually hurts that goal.

The point of open trade agreements like NAFTA is to provide an economic stimulus, increasing the standard of living in countries like Mexico and China. A subsistence farmer making $100 a year is not going to wield much clout with his government. But turn him into a middle-class worker earning $10,000 a year and suddenly things change.

RE: Watermelon
By ImJustSaying on 12/23/2009 7:22:39 PM , Rating: 2
NAFTA allowed multinational agricultural companies full access to Mexican agricultural land. These corporations then either purchased or took the land that the subsistence farmers were renting/living on, and concentrated farming. Sure, they streamlined farming processes and increased efficiency and food output, which has its own merit and value, however, they helped displace millions of people that had to go somewhere for work. That's my point; the displacement of families has contributed to the massive influx of Mexican immigrants, legally and illegally, to the US.

The issue of corruption is yet another problem that exacerbates the general poverty and disfunction of Mexico's government and populace.

We don't seem to disagree, really.

"What would I do? I'd shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders." -- Michael Dell, after being asked what to do with Apple Computer in 1997

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