Wind Industry Strategy Seeks to Undermine Wildlife Protections

The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) is carrying out an aggressive effort to undermine wildlife protections that it views as an obstacle to its expansion onto wildlands, according to an AWEA strategy document from late 2011.   AWEA's strategy outlines plans to facilitate the industrialization of public lands by allowing "industry to proactively set and guide the siting agenda" by co-opting environmental groups, government agencies, and a wildlife research institute, according to the document. As of May, the wind industry had proposed over 249 square miles of projects across Arizona, California and Nevada.  In those same states, the industry was exploring additional projects on over 1,121 square miles, according to the BLM's land records database . Meeting just 20% of the United States' energy needs with wind energy will require 20,000 square miles, according to a Department of Energy report . A heap of dead Joshua Trees cut down to make way for t

EPA Extends Comment Deadline for Reid Gardner Coal Emissions

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has extended its deadline to receive public comments on an emissions reduction proposal for the Reid Gardner coal power plant in Nevada.  Comments are now due by June 4 .  You can read my previous blog post on how to submit comments, or read the Federal Register notice (which still contains the older public comments deadline).  The bottom line is that older coal power plants like Reid Gardner are responsible for the vast majority of toxic emissions from the energy sector, including 64% of Nitrogen Oxides emissions (the primary emission that the EPA seeks to control with its proposed determination), according to a Government Accountability Office report. If the EPA is going to give older fossil fuel facilities a free pass, then we will not see a significant difference in the impacts we're seeking to address.  This means continued health problems for nearby communities, particularly the town of Moapa and the Moapa band of Paiutes, which

Endangered Species Day

Today is Endangered Species Day. Let us strive to find a way to live on this Earth while preserving its beautiful biodiversity.

Route 66

The photo below shows desert wildflowers in bloom along Route 66 in California's Mojave Desert. This area would be preserved under the California Desert Protection Act of 2011, which Senator Feinstein introduced last year but is still in limbo in Washington DC. The Obama administration expressed its support for the conservation plan outlined in the Act.  The historical Route 66 passes through much of the proposed Mojave Trails National Monument, one of two monument proposals contained in the California Desert Protection Act of 2011 (S.138).  There are many sites of cultural and historical significance along Route 66, surrounded by beautiful desert landscapes. Climate change, proposed utility scale wind and solar energy projects, and a myriad of other human impacts threaten to destroy the intact ecosystem here that greets visitors and conveys a sense of boundless liberty. If you visit, take your time to watch the graceful raptors soaring above or reptiles darting between creoso

Rooftop Solar Making Gains in Southwest

Secretary of Energy Steven Chu visited Phoenix on Tuesday to tout a rooftop solar leasing program that will ultimately enable up to 1,000 residents to install panels.  The $25 million program, financed by the National Bank of Phoenix, is the second phase since the first round attracted over 400 interested residents. Solar leasing is not as ideal as self-financed installations that could be possible through Property Assessed Clean Energy or feed-in-tariffs, but does achieve a reduction of fossil fuel emissions, and savings on energy bills. Best of all, no desert is destroyed to install solar on rooftops or in other places in our cities! Next week, the California Public Utilities Commission is set to decide on whether or not to essentially raise the number of utility customers that can benefit from net metering, where rooftop solar owners are credited for energy they generate. The vote by the commissioners will be held on 24 May, and one commissioner has already recommended approval

More on the False Dilemma

You can kill the planet with lethal injection, or the electric chair. Those are the two options offered by some environmentalists. Last night I wrote about a prevailing "war" that we environmentalists are waging against fossil fuels, and the weapon chosen by environmental "leaders" happens to be killing what we love.  It's about "trade offs" according to the environmental vanguard. Give up some wildlands for utility-scale wind and solar energy, and we can save the planet. But they never tell you how much we need to give up. Just ignore the numbers, because clean energy consultant Alan Nogee says we need to make the "trade off".  Just be happy that the destruction of habitat and a reduction of biodiversity was caused by clean energy, and not climate change. If you're still curious, according to the Department of Energy , achieving only 20% of our energy from wind energy would require the industrialization of 20,000 square miles o

More Nuance, Less Entrenchment

A recent article by the Guardian newspaper exposed efforts by the fossil fuel industry to co-opt and support grassroots groups opposed to wind energy facilities.  The article points to a strategy memo put together by the conservative American Tradition Institute (ATI) to organize local anti-wind groups and generate more opposition to big wind facilities, and ignoring the core problem of climate change caused by unsustainable use of the planet's resources. The campaign, and other recent efforts by the fossil fuel industry to maintain its destructive foothold on our planet is a sign that, despite growing concern for our climate and our economic dependence on unsustainable fossil fuels, the industry is still on the prowl, like Cruella Deville in search of puppies. Following efforts by the Heartland Institute, this was dismaying, but not a surprise.  But the response from the green community has been the most alarming for me. Since the ATI story broke, there has been a flurry o