16. December 2010 22:29
There has been an unprecedented assault on our deserts and backcountry in the name of renewable energy. While the Anza Borrego Desert State Park was spared the bulldozer's blade back in 2008, many so called "green" projects have been popping up all over California.
Although these remote solar and wind projects may seem environmentally friendly on the surface, there is a dark side that seems to be ignored by the media.
In order to be financially viable, large scale solar and wind projects require thousands of acres of public lands to be scraped clean in order to make room for the dishes or towers. These are areas that have important biological and possibly cultural significance. For example, the area proposed for the Ocotillo Express Wind Farm is critical desert habitat for Peninsular Bighorn Sheep and is also home to the endangered flat-tailed horned lizard.
While the utility companies, politicians and corporations look upon these areas as an expendable resource (1), once these areas are developed they are forever gone. Do we really need to go "green" by paving over untouched wilderness? Utility companies such as SDG&E would have you believe yes, but they are merely maximizing profits by building up a huge infrastructure of transmission lines and sub-stations. The true environmentally friendly alternative is to generate the power where it is being used and covering our homes and businesses with photo-voltaic panels.
Unfortunately as I write this, the Ocotillo Express Wind Farm has now moved to the environmental review stage and looks to be fast-tracked through the approval process. I urge you to take a few minutes to email the BLM offices and tell them this area should not be used for a 15,000 acre wind farm. There are better ways to deliver clean energy to the people of San Diego without destroying our desert ecosystems
(1) “Some people look out in the deserts and just see empty space. I see a gold mine there for clean energy.” – Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Bureau of Land Management e-mails to send comments:
Comments need to be received before January 12, 2011
Thanks to the Basin and Range Watch for following this issue.