Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Wise Words

Chris Clarke at Coyote Crossing recently published a great piece on KCET looking at what we will lose when the majestic Carrizo Plain is industrialized for the sake of large-scale renewable energy projects.  While writing the piece he came across a passionate letter written by long-time public servant and friend of the environment Peter Douglas, who recently retired from the California Coastal Commission. 

Mr. Douglas wrote the letter urging policymakers to reconsider plans to build massive solar power projects in Carrizo Plain, which will threaten endangered species in an area called "California's Serengeti".  You can read the full letter on the Carrizo Commons website, but I've included some particularly inspiring excerpts below.

I sense in pockets of our political, economic and civic world of leaders, a need to be seen as progressive facilitators and not as obstructionists in the way of new centralized industrial development of renewable energy.  This is an alarming and, in the long view, a self-destructive, tragic trend because it is unnecessary and erosive of community wellbeing.  Cities and Counties are entirely capable of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and generating clean, renewable, affordable energy for their regions with existing technologies without destroying vast swaths of critical habitat and celebrated public lands. All that is needed is political will, courage and progressive vision. 

In our headlong rush for renewables, I respectfully urge you and all those in positions of influence to hit pause, step back, take stock of our human and environmental condition, and envision what we will have saved for the seventh generation of our kin.  It would be a travesty were we to destroy rare, irreplaceable public places in nature and deprive unborn generations the blessings of what should rightfully be their natural heritage.  I have no doubt, that if the proposed industrial solar projects are built on the Carrizo Plain the essence of this National Monument will be destroyed.  I am not saying don’t build industrial scale solar complimented by distributed small scale energy production and distribution (e.g., solar on rooftops, built and degraded lands coupled with robust fiscal incentives).  I am saying there are alternative locations that won’t destroy the Monument and that avoid major ecological damage.  We must tell applicants to find better locations.  Clearly, we can both save precious places and dramatically reduce green house gases:  This is not an “either or” situation.

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