In October, I posted on the opposition by environmentalists to solar energy projects in California’s Mojave Desert. I mentioned that California Senator Dianne Feinstein was planning to bolster that opposition with legislation.


Well, just before Christmas the New York Times reported that Feinstein introduced a bill “to protect a million acres of the Mojave Desert in California by scuttling some 13 big solar plants and wind farms planned for the region.”


What I found most striking in the article was this (emphasis added):

But before the bill to create two new Mojave national monuments has even had its first hearing, the California Democrat has largely achieved her aim. Regardless of the legislation’s fate, her opposition means that few if any power plants are likely to be built in the monument area, a complication in California’s effort to achieve its aggressive goals for renewable energy.


Developers of the projects have already postponed several proposals or abandoned them entirely. The California agency charged with planning a renewable energy transmission grid has rerouted proposed power lines to avoid the monument.


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

So even if the bill fails in Congress, the environmentalist anti-development agenda wins.


The irony is that these scuttled energy projects are creatures of green government intervention in the first place. It's only the life-support of federal subsidies that keeps the solar and wind industries going. And the major factor driving solar and wind development in Mojave is California’s state quota mandating 20 percent “renewable” electricity by 2010.


Also, it was the federal government under the Bush administration that was encouraging solar development on the very sites in California that Feinstein now wants to declare off limits.


All this just goes to show how government central planning subjects economic decision-making—not just bogus green energy projects, but all energy development—to the whims of political pull and the shifting agendas of each new administration. As I’ve written before, “what we need is not ‘green energy’ forced upon us by government coercion but real energy delivered on a free market.”