|Creosote bush scrub habitat in the Ivanpah Valley, with the Clark Mountains in the background. This photo was taken in March 2010, before construction began.|
|This photo by Erin Whitfield shows destruction of the Ivanpah Valley for phase 1 and part of phase 2 of BrightSource's project. This represents only a third of the total proposed project.|
|Just a small portion of BrightSource's planned destruction in the Ivanpah Valley.|
The Ivanpah Valley is also being targeted for destruction by two projects proposed by First Solar Inc--the Stateline and Silver State projects. If built, the two projects would bulldoze over 15 square miles of public land.
Advocates of giant solar projects claim that utility-scale solar generation is necessary to quickly cut greenhouse gas emissions. However, such facilities are expected to destroy nearly 334 square miles of pristine desert in America's southwestern public lands over the next 20 years, according to the Department of Interior, and this will only feed a fraction of our energy needs. The Los Angeles Times took a position in the debate by calling for a smarter solar policy that encourages projects on already-disturbed and private lands. Solar Done Right issued a report calling for more incentives for rooftop solar and, if necessary, projects on already-disturbed land. Germany added 3,000 MW of distributed generation in 2009 alone.
If we are serious about increasing renewable energy generation the right way, we will establish feed-in-tariffs and tax incentives that benefit individual citizens and small businesses that install rooftop solar systems instead of continuing to worship corporate giants that are more interested in profit than protecting the environment.