|Putting landmark solar energy plan in perspective|
|Written by Wild Nevada|
|Sunday, 28 October 2012 12:46|
Amid the din of political candidates smearing their opponents last week, you may have missed a significant news story affecting Nevada and renewable energy.
After nearly three years in the making, our nation’s solar energy program reached a culminating milestone when Interior Secretary Ken Salazar adopted the final solar plan through a Record of Decision.
This step advances a plan to develop solar energy on many of the nation’s sunniest public lands, a significant achievement in advancing efforts to produce clean, renewable energy, and enable us to put solutions on the table to address the increasing extremities in weather patterns.
Nevada has five of these designated solar zones, and Nevada Wilderness Project has been working with the federal government, utilities and solar energy developers on the plan for about two years. Although the demand for renewable energy has waned in our state, these areas identified by the Interior Department could one day be the focus on utility-scale solar power facilities that will help us combat the impact of climate change.
According to the Center for Climate Change Solutions at UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, the federal solar program “offers solutions to address the climate challenge ahead of us in a sensible and economical way. Because climate change is primarily the result of burning fossil fuels, a plan to transform our energy system to rely on clean, renewable sources like the sun is critical.”
The Solar Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement will help us realize our nation’s potential for solar energy development on public lands in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah.
The solar plan we helped craft reduces unnecessary and time-consuming obstacles by identifying the public lands that are best suited for large-scale development in that they done harm sensitive wildlife or wild lands and provide mitigate for impacts they do have on our unique desert landscapes.
The plan is a good balance between doing something to battle global warming while protecting public lands from harmful development. It’s not an option to do nothing.
According to Dr. Paul Bunje,in an op-ed in the San Diego Union-Tribune , “Interior’s solar plan will accelerate responsibly sited solar energy development by guiding projects to places where conflicts with wildlife and wild lands are lessened. This plan stands in stark contrast to the shortsighted and contentious approach that has dictated energy development to date.
“We cannot ignore the need for carefully sited solar development to protect America’s precious landscapes. But we also want solar development that will produce jobs and economic growth. Interior’s solar plan aims to balance the two. This represents a unique opportunity for our nation to move closer to meeting our clean energy goals, and that is certainly something to celebrate.”