Greens against green energy

Environmentalists claim, with ever-increasing hysteria, that our consumption of carbon-based energy in pursuit of prosperity and economic growth is altering the earth’s climate. Human survival, they insist, requires the immediate abandonment of fossil fuels, which provide more than 80 percent of the world’s energy, in favor of carbon-free sources.

Yet, at the same time, environmentalist groups have vehemently opposed, as unacceptable intrusions on nature, projects involving every alternative form of energy ever proposed to replace fossil fuels—including such supposedly green ventures as wind farms and solar power plants. Here’s the latest example:

Solar energy developer BrightSource Energy Inc. proposed a 5130 acre power plant in the Broadwell Dry Lake area of California’s Mojave desert. But it quickly ran up against environmentalists seeking to declare Broadwell and surrounding regions off limits to commercial development. (I posted on this in March.)

David Myers, executive director of the Wildlands Conservancy, who spearheaded the battle, says “there are good and bad places to build.” Apparently, his preferred stretch of desert is a “bad place.” And apparently California Senator Dianne Feinstein agrees. She entered the fray, on the side of the “conservationists, announcing plans to introduce a bill that would turn a 1 million acre swath of Mojave into a national monument—including the Broadwell site.

As a result, BrightSource has withdrawn its Broadwell proposal, and is looking to other locations in the Mojave Desert. In particular, it indicated that it would forge ahead with plans for a solar facility in Mojave’s Ivanpah Valley just south of Las Vegas. Presumably, the company hopes environmentalists will deem this a “good place” for solar. But according to the San Jose Mercury News:

BrightSource might have other hurdles to clear at its Ivanpah project, which also could impact tortoise habitats, according to some environmental groups.

“We have concerns about Ivanpah,” [the Sierra Club’s Barbara] Boyle said. “Ivanpah has some very important tortoise habitats as well as a number of plant species that are sensitive.”

In a statement praising BrightSource for abandoning its Broadwell project, Feinstein said: “It’s clear that conservation and renewable energy development are not mutually exclusive goals—there is room enough in the California desert for both.”

Well, it is clear which parts of the California desert environmentalists will rope off to advance the goal of conservation. But so far there’s no evidence of any “room” for energy development—and every reason to expect nothing from them but further hostility and opposition to it.