Saturday, May 26, 2012
Renewable Energy Industry Didn't Anticipate Dust in Desert
Apparently the renewable energy industry did not realize that when you bulldoze dozens of square miles of intact desert habitat, you remove the topsoil that keeps down wind-born dust. First Solar's Antelope Valley Solar Ranch 1 (AVSR 1) project is currently delayed due to dust issues and an electrical permitting issue, according to Greentech Media. First Solar also apparently violated air quality standards near Joshua Tree National Park when the construction for its Desert Sunlight project kicked up clouds of dust. Separately, Pattern Energy appears to be in violation of the rules as its construction crews generate a significant amount of dust for a wind energy project, according to Basin and Range Watch. Dust clouds caused by construction may not seem like a significant problem to some, but the haze is a quality of life issue for the local communities in the desert, and with hundreds of square miles of planned solar and wind projects in the desert, the problem is likely to grow. Research has even determined that dust clouds from the west are blanketing snow-capped mountains in the Rockies, forcing earlier snow melts and altering ecological cycles.