Big Solar gets the Big Oil treatment
A couple of weeks ago we wondered if green lobbying groups would object to new Department of Interior rules to streamline environmental approval for solar energy projects on hundreds of thousands of acres of federal land. ("The Solar-Painted Desert," Aug. 13, 2012.) Well, here we go. Three environmental groups—Western Lands Project, Basin and Range Watch, and Solar Done Right—have filed a formal complaint of the kind that often presages a lawsuit.
The letter of protest to the Bureau of Land Management alleges that the agency "failed to analyze numerous impacts of solar energy plant development within several Solar Energy Zones" and that allowing "industrial-scale solar generation" could result in the "virtual privatization of public lands."
But here's the real shocker: The letter complains that "no scientific evidence has been presented to support the claim that these projects reduce greenhouse emissions." And "the opposite may be true. Recent work at the Center for Conservation Biology University of California, Riverside, suggests that soil disturbance from large-scale solar development may disrupt Pleistocene-era caliche deposits that release carbon to the atmosphere when exposed to the elements, thus 'negat[ing] the solar development C [carbon] gains.'"
So solar energy, like corn ethanol, really doesn't reduce greenhouse gas emissions? Now they tell us.
And there's more, says the letter: The environmental impact from these solar panels "are long-term (decades to centuries)" and they threaten the habitat of "endangered species, including the desert tortoise, Mojave fringe-toed lizard, flat-tailed horned lizard, golden eagle and desert bighorn."
Who knows if these objections have any factual basis. They're similar to the exaggerated complaints that greens have used for decades to kill or delay natural gas drilling, coal mining, road building, and the construction of dams for hydropower. But it's certainly news that some greens are even turning against green energy. Welcome to the club, Big Solar.