U.S. Issues Moratorium on Energy Independence?

I don’t know about you, but I feel like there’s a palpable sense for moving forward on energy independence and cleantech these days. Advances in CLFR technology have made commercial solar utilities a legitimate option and Oil tycooons are talking about commercial windmill power, and so are the Dutch.

To quote the NY Times, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management “says an extensive environmental study is needed to determine how large solar plants might affect millions of acres it oversees in six Western states — Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah.

But the decision to freeze new solar proposals temporarily, reached late last month, has caused widespread concern in the alternative-energy industry, as fledgling solar companies must wait to see if they can realize their hopes of harnessing power from swaths of sun-baked public land, just as the demand for viable alternative energy is accelerating.”

The U.S. BLM has dominion over some primo resources of sunbaked earth in the American southwest, and locking out commercial solar operations could stunt their development. Spokesmouths for both Solel and Ausra have come out swinging:

““The problem is that this is a very young industry, and the majority of us that are involved are young, struggling, hungry companies,” said Lee Wallach of Solel, a solar power company based in California that has filed numerous applications to build on public land and was considering filing more in the next two years.

On the other hand, there are a number of conservation groups who praised the decision. Afterall, several states require solar developers often hire environmental experts to assess the effects of construction on the desert tortoise and Mojave ground squirrel.

Let’s inject some common sense into the discussion with a few simple questions here:

1. How do we adequately study the environmental impact of large scale solar facilities, since we’ve never really built them?  I’m in favor of conservation of resources like everyone else, but in the absence of actual experience, the process might as well be a bunch of voodoo.

2. How much enviornmental assessment was done on the Gulf of Mexico prior to drilling off the Louisiana coast? Just saying.

3. The bureau says it will continue processing more than 130 applications for development, but how big a backlog is this? If the process is already bottlenecking, it might make sense to slow things down if we won’t lose steam.


This entry was published on July 10, 2008 at 11:35 AM. It’s filed under Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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