Bush’s BLM had put a moratorium on solar energy lease applications for development on public lands wanting to wait for comprehensive environmental analysis before accepting new applications. The moratorium met an uproar of opposition. Now, the moratorium is dead.
The context of the moratorium had conservationists wondering why BLM would put the red light on solar applications while expediting oil & gas applications. It was a double-standard that made Bush’s resource priorities within agency pretty clear.
“Green” isn’t always green
While the moratorium is called off on applications, there is still no indication that would suggest the proper environmental analysis will not be conducted. Let’s hope it stays that way. Calls to diminish public oversight and revoke important environmental laws in the name of the environment are already underway. It’s as if the sagebrush rebels are wrapping themselves in green cloaks – think wolf in sheep’s clothing (bad analogy) – they’ve got so-called ‘green’ ideas calling for the same butcher-block reforms to environmental laws as have been called by extractive industry for decades.
What’s more, utility size development of renewable energy is little more wildlife friendly than any other activity on public land that fragments and degrades some of the last remnant wildlife habitat already under stress given global warming and other land uses. This habitat is needed for wildlife – especially now.
Democrats and/or Republicans are missing an incredible opportunity
There is plenty of marginal agricultural land in the states proposed for public land development that is not under profitable production and is already worthless to wildlife. Energy initiatives that promote economic incentives on these private lands would give rural communities and farmers much needed stimulus by promoting private lease of private lands for renewable development. Democrats/Republicans pushing this approach would enjoy rural/ag voters’ support by bringing Westerners green projects as alternative to the tired old-Republican approach of bringing home the same extractive industrial bacon. Unlike subsidized livestock grazing, logging, etc. these solutions provide sustainable economies and ecologies into the future.
Giant solar and wind utilities on public land export wealth out of the communities that harbor them, often to offshore investors – that’s American’s subsidizing foreigners ! And often the energy is wasted over miles and miles in transit. Congress and the next administration ought promote efforts to keep as much of the wealth local as can be kept that way. That means maintaining private property owners’ ability to market their land at a fair price – without depreciating that market by opening public lands to development (which is done at a fraction of market value).
Put the solar panels and wind generators where they belong – on the rooftops and on private lands amidst the communities that use the energy.