Alternative Energy: No Free Lunch. #rsrh

from Robert Rapier, via @mdgreen1956

Sacrificing the desert to save the Earth

“BrightSource Energy’s Ivanpah solar power project will soon be a humming city with 24-hour lighting, a wastewater processing facility and a gas-fired power plant. To make room, BrightSource has mowed down a swath of desert plants, displaced dozens of animal species and relocated scores of imperiled desert tortoises, a move that some experts say could kill up to a third of them.

“Despite its behemoth footprint, the Ivanpah project has slipped easily into place, unencumbered by lasting legal opposition or public outcry from California’s boisterous environmental community.”

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) has vehemently opposed the Keystone XL pipeline. In fact, on the home page of the NRDC site is a plea to “Help Us Kill the Keystone XL.” But in this case, the NRDC was cited as one of the environmental organizations that lined up behind the BrightSource project:

“I have spent my entire career thinking of myself as an advocate on behalf of public lands and acting for their protection,” said Johanna Wald, a veteran environmental attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council. “I am now helping facilitate an activity on public lands that will have very significant environmental impacts. We are doing it because of the threat of climate change. It’s not an accommodation; it’s a change I had to make to respond to climate.”

So what kind of trade-off are they making here? They are using a tremendous amount of land to produce electricity that could have been produced on a tiny fraction of that footprint with nuclear power or fossil fuels. So they traded lower carbon emissions for a large area of destroyed wildlife habitat.

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