Angry Birds in Northern California

Following up on a previous post regarding Google's plans to invest millions of dollars in a massive field of wind turbines in the western Mojave Desert, the Los Angeles Times ran a great article today on the dangers of poorly sited wind energy facilities on birds. Google's wind energy projects is one of several proposed for the Mojave Desert, and are expected to have similar impacts as the Altamont Pass project featured in the LA Times article.   A video accompanied the article and is also embedded below.

Is Washington Creating a Big Solar Bubble?

We all know what happened when Wall Street and Washington both looked the other way in the name of corporate profit as banks and insurers inflated housing prices, and encouraged unstable investments.  But will Americans be stuck with the cost of another over-hyped investment? The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has smoothed the way to permit hundreds of square miles of solar energy facilities on public land in America's southwestern deserts.   In California alone there were 20 solar applications in line for public land, totaling over 200 square miles.  The Obama administration asked the BLM to work with the Department of Energy (DOE) to decide which projects can receive taxpayer-backed financing and grants.  Massive solar projects have already been approved for over 4 billion dollars in government loans , and millions of dollars in cash grants . A subsidiary of energy firm " NRG " was awarded over 18 million dollars in grants (free cash), and 2.1 billion dollars of tax

Sun Bath

A lizard keeps an eye on the blogger as it bathes in the sun in Grand Canyon National Park.

No Free Lunch...

...Unless you are a solar company.  A quote by the director of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) land program in USA Today does not sound like it came from a conservation organization. "There's no free lunch when it comes to meeting our energy needs," she said. "To get energy, we need to do things that will have impacts." She was encouraging fellow environmentalists not to worry about the negative impacts of the Obama administration's renewable energy policy, which will destroy thousands of square miles of wildlands.  I'm sure coal and oil executives have used the same "no free lunch" argument about offshore drilling, mountaintop removal mining, and drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Yes.  Everything we do will have impacts.  But aren't we supposed to try to minimize those impacts? Isn't that what "environmental organizations have been saying for decades? I would have expected a more sophisticated s

Energy Companies Take Aim at Sacred Sites in California Desert

Chevron and Solar Millennium LLC have begun bulldozing what will ultimately be an 11 square-mile field of mirrors and steel, replacing old growth desert and ironwood washes in the Sonoran desert.  The construction is also cutting into an area considered sacred by Native Americans, with giant geoglyphs depicting deities carved into desert gravel.  The largest geoglyph near the project is of the god Kokopelli, which plays a central role in some Native American tribes' cosmological view. The Blythe Solar power project is one of several that was "fast-tracked" by the Department of Interior for approval last year, leading to what many consider to be a hasty environmental and historical review process.  A judge halted one of those projects--the Imperial Valley solar power project--because the Department of Interior did not adequately consult with the Quechan tribe before approving the project.  Another legal challenge challenged six of the projects, including Blythe, and i

Angry Birds

Google Inc has invested 55 million dollars in a massive wind energy project in the western Mojave Desert.  The wind energy project--the Alta Wind Energy Center--will blanket the Tehachapi mountains and generate up to 1,500 megawatts of energy when it is complete. According to the American Bird Conservancy, wind turbines can kill up to 14 birds, per megawatt, per year, and a median rate of 2.2 birds per MW, per year, according to industry estimates.  Google's investment might just kill anywhere from 3,300 to 21,000 birds, per year.   That is just a single wind energy project.  The truth about massive wind and solar energy projects is slowly coming to light as people realize that we have to sacrifice vast swaths of open space and drive some species closer to extinction. Google should know better.  Their Mountain View, California campus is covered in rooftop solar panels.  Generating energy at the point of use.  If only Google could put its ingenuity toward a more vigorous di

Have We Been Fooled by Calico Solar?

This is the story of a solar power project that was approved by State and Federal Governments even though the energy company had no way of building it in the first place.  The representatives of the taxpayer are now being asked to turn a blind eye, once again. Fool me once, shame on you....   Last fall the California Energy Commission (CEC) and Department of Interior approved Tessera Solar LLC's proposal to bulldoze 7 square-miles of public land for a solar power facility in the central Mojave Desert.   Both Washington and Sacramento acknowledged the significant environmental damage the project would cause to the pristine desert habitat, but rushed to approve it so Tessera Solar could qualify for over a billion dollars in taxpayer-backed stimulus funding.  The government approved the project on the basis that Tessera Solar would install thousands of SunCatcher dishes--an unproven and complicated piece of machinery.   It turns out Tessera Solar may have misrepresented its abil