Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Feds Balk at $125 Tortoise Website; Spend Billions to Kill Tortoises

As I wrote about yesterday, the White House announced its Campaign to Cut Waste and highlighted the DesertTortoise.gov website as a prime example of the sort of "waste" the government hopes to eliminate.  Chris Clarke over at Coyote Crossing learned from someone familiar with the website that it costs approximately 125 dollars, and a few hours of labor to upload new information each year.  The site received 49,000 visitors from January through April this year.  That's less than a penny per visitor, and we can expect tens of thousands of more visitors by the end of the year.  Also, the White House apparently did not bother giving the wildlife officials that maintain the website (as one of their many tasks) any advance notice that they would target the effort as an example of "waste."

So the White House does not want to spend 125 dollars a year to educate tens of thousands of people about the best way to share an environment with a threatened species, but the White House has no problem spending billions of dollars a year on misplaced solar projects that are projected to kill hundreds of desert tortoises.

Here are my proposed additions to the Campaign to Cut Waste:
  • The 1.6 billion dollar taxpayer-backed loan given to BrightSource Energy LLC's Ivanpah Solar Energy Generating System.  The facility will destroy 5.6 square miles of public land and displace or kill hundreds of tortoises according to the Bureau of Land Management.  As one energy executive is on record saying, such projects would are not financially sustainable without government assistance.
  • The 18 million dollar grant and 2.1 billion dollar taxpayer-backed loan given to Solar Millennium (and partners NRG and Solar Trust of America) for the 11 square mile Blythe Solar power project, which will destroy tortoise habitat and sacred Native American cultural sites.
What would I do with the savings?  Give that money back to the taxpayer so they can install rooftop solar panels, cutting their own electricity bills and preserving our open space.

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