Mr. Peter Douglas, a long-time advocate for the environment and former Executive Director of the California Coastal Commission, passed away after a fight with cancer. I wanted to share again something he wrote in 2009 as industrial-scale solar development threatened the Carrizo Plain and other beautiful landscapes. He advocated for a focus on distributed generation, and siting larger facilities to avoid ecological destruction. From Mr. Douglas' letter to the San Luis Obispo Board of Supervisors:
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.