California Desert Contested in Alternative Energy Plans

California wants solar and wind power, but just where it goes is rife with controversy. Senator Dianne Feinstein is coming out against plans to build huge solar and wind farms in sensitive desert areas.

"In a move that could pit usual allies -- environmentalists and the solar and wind industries -- against each other, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) is preparing legislation that would permanently put hundreds of thousands of acres of desert land off limits to energy projects. The territory would be designated California's newest national monument."

"Feinstein disputed that she is engaged in a not-in-my-backyard campaign. 'I'm a strong supporter of renewable energy and clean technology -- but it is critical that these projects are built on suitable lands,' she said."

"The area of concern to Feinstein is between the Mojave National Preserve and Joshua Tree National Park, off old Route 66 between Ludlow and Needles. The area includes desert tortoise habitat, wildlife corridors, cactus gardens and the Amboy Crater -- an inactive volcanic crater where portions of the 1959 movie 'Journey to the Center of the Earth' were filmed."

Full Story: Feinstein wants desert swath off-limits to solar, wind projects



Renewable Energy vs. Environmental Degredation

Thank you for posting this article. It is very interesting to see that environmentalist and the renewable energy industries do not see eye to eye on this issue. While President Obama has made renewable energy sources a priority, and Governor Schwarzenegger has required California to receive 20% of its energy from renewable sources by 2010, it is interesting that Senator Feinstein may not want these projected renewable energy power plants “in her backyard.”

I can see that allocating the Imperial Valley to renewable energy sources can degrade the immediate environment, but is it not important to utilize renewable energy sources? While the “desert tortoise habitat, wildlife corridors, cactus gardens, and the Amboy Crater,” may be disrupted, these desert habitats would be disrupted for the right cause: helping curb climate change by using sustainable methods of living. There are many more animals, and wildlife habitats that are being disrupted due to climate change, drilling for oil, and burning coal for energy, and to disallow renewable energy power plants to set up shop in California’s deserts is selfish and can definably be seen as a NIMBY approach.

Bill Kovacks sums the situation up perfectly. If Senator Feinstein is not going to allow these power plants to inhabit California’s deserts, “where are you going to allow it—Los Angeles?” Renting the rooftops, or requiring all of Los Angeles’ residents to place solar panels on their houses and buildings without any sort of subsidization is unfeasible. This is why Senator Feinstein needs to allow the allocation of the vacant desert to the renewable energy companies.

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