Get a FREE Issue of Earth Island Journal
Sign up for our no-risk offer today.

Go Back: Home > Earth Island Journal > Issues > Autumn 2010 > +/–

+/–

Got a Light?

Deserts vs. Big Solar

Power plants that run on solar energy instead of coal sound like a no-brainer. But in a growing debate that pits habitat conservation against technological innovation, some environmentalists are warning that utility-scale solar plants on public lands will harm sensitive ecoystems. So are solar plants in the desert the answer to our energy woes? The Solar Energy Industries Association says they’re the quickest way to get us off fossil fuels. The Wildlands Conservancy thinks we should be looking at rooftops first.

Solar Belongs on Rooftops

by David Myers

David Myers has spent 33 years as the head of various California land conservation organizations. For the past 16 years, he has been the Executive Director of The Wildlands Conservancy, which owns California’s largest nonprofit preserve system.

The Bush administration’s Energy Policy Act of 2005 resulted in proposals for solar and wind projects on 1.6 million acres of pristine public land in the California desert. This created a solar land rush in which companies sold public land application portfolios for hundreds of millions of dollars. When they found their applications hamstrung by endangered species laws, some energy companies, unfamiliar with federal and state environmental regulations, criticized the grassroots environmental community for holding up clean energy projects. The press sensationalized this conflict as a “Green versus Green” battle.

The media might have overblown the issue, but The Wildlands Conservancy was in fact shocked when a national environmental group took the position that we had to open desert lands for large-scale solar, the same lands that environmentalists had worked so hard to protect in the past. This is, in our opinion, nonsense. There’s no need to sacrifice unique habitats for utility-scale reneweable energy – especially when there are so many other already degraded sites that could be used instead. …more…

   

Email this article to a friend.

Write to the editor about this article.

Subscribe Today
cover thumbnail EIJ cover thumbnail EIJ cover thumbnail EIJ cover thumbnail EIJFour issues of the award-winning
Earth Island Journal for only $10

 

Comments

In keeping with minimizing our foot prints and eco-friendliness becoming a lifestyle it only makes sense for solar to go on roof tops or expansion, yet again, will be the problem…or corpse-orations will try to take over and hike the prices..control too much…when energy shouldn’t be something we pay an arm and leg for once we have the technology to make it a stable, sustainable, earth friendly choice.

By lisa v on Thu, September 30, 2010 at 3:59 pm

Leave a comment

Comments Policy

Please enter the word you see in the image below:

Subscribe
Today

Four issues for just
$10 a year.

cover thumbnail EIJ

Join Now!

 
Go Solar with Earth Island Institute!

0.1441