Thousand of rooftops in our cities bake under the California sun, and hundreds of thousands of acres of already-disturbed land identified by EPA's RE-powering America's Land program sit idle -- perfect places for solar panels. BrightSource Energy LLC, which portrays itself as an innovative solar energy company, ignored these options and decided to begin bulldozing 5.6 square miles of pristine desert habitat on public land (using 1.4 billion dollars of taxpayer-backed financing).
A video recently released on You Tube (below) of crews clearing old growth desert for BrightSource's Ivanpah Solar Energy Generating System in the northeastern Mojave Desert reveals a different kind of company. This is a business that is not worthy of the "green" reputation bestowed upon it by those who only believe in protecting nature when she is not standing in the way of profit.
Desert shrubs and Yuccas that took hundreds of years to grow--symbolic of nature's persevearance and adaptability--are mowed down in seconds, as Chris Clarke notes over at Coyote Crossing.
This is a continuation of the same energy standard we have been following for decades and not much different than building a hydropower dam on the Colorado River or removing a mountaintop in West Virginia to mine coal -- we are unnecessaraily destroying ecosystems and pushing species closer to extinction. Wall Street is using the real threat of climate change to create a false dilemma -- they say we must sacrifice public land to build massive solar facilities. As Solar Done Right has argued, and as Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune has acknowledged, we must put renewable energy on a responsible path. Otherwise we become accessories to an unchecked, profit-driven campaign to blanket our dwindling wild lands with mirrors and towers.