A lawsuit by the Western Lands Project in Seattle, Idaho’s Western Watersheds Project and the Desert Protective Council challenge the Obama Administration’s program to designate public lands that are appropriate for solar power development.
The suit filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in California, challenges outgoing Interior Secretary Ken Salazar’s decision to open 285,000 acres in 17 zones in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah for large-scale solar projects. The groups say they are not against renewable energy projects; they just want them in developed areas such as parking lots and on rooftops.
Think about how these groups’ overall approach conflicts with that of many utilities, which are making it harder and more costly for customers to invest the capital themselves in rooftop solar power. The groups also are sending the message that while climate change may be an issue it certainly is no crisis that requires increased risks to address.
Don’t worry about the increased fires in the desert ecosystems due to global warming. No need to change priorities, after all, some of these advocates argue, climate change makes stopping the development of these ecosystems even more important since they will become even drier.
The Obama administration surveyed public lands across the five southwestern to come up with the lands where they welcomed renewable development so it would not be proposed in habitats where its scientists don’t think it should go. Some of the people in these groups question whether any renewable development should take place on public lands.
If the Obama Administration’s approach to energy policy is “all of the above,” the environmental groups appear to be saying “none of the above, except rooftop solar and on developed private lands.”
It is no surprise that utilities like Idaho Power Co. are keeping their options open by continuing to depend on coal instead of jumping into a new energy world also fraught with legal battles. Since after all, climate change is tomorrow’s problem.