A proposal announced by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar Monday could increase by 70-fold the existing installed capacity of solar electricity-generating plants in the United States. The plants would be located on federal land and eventually provide a capacity of 100,000 megawatts, enough to provide the electricity needs of 15 million to 25 million residences. Today, slightly more than a gigawatt (1000 megawatts) of photovoltaic-generated electricity and 600 megawatts of concentrated solar power operations are tied to the nation’s electrical grid. Off-grid PV installations are calculated at 50 megawatts.
Companies have previously announced they will build nearly 6000 megawatts of CSP plants in California, Arizona and New Mexico.
There are currently about 29,000 megawatts of installed wind power capacity in the United States. Ten years ago there were 2500 megawatts.
| "With coordinated environmental studies, good land-use planning and zoning and priority processing, we can accelerate responsible solar energy production that will help build a clean-energy economy for the 21st century," Salazar said.
Many solar projects have been blocked at the local level, putting at risk the Obama administration's plan to double renewable energy production by 2012. For example, in March, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., wrote to Salazar vowing to fight against the construction of a solar project on 600,000 acres of federal land between the Mojave desert preserve and the Joshua Tree National Park. The area lies in a state-designated renewable zone where companies have applied to establish hundreds of solar projects.
Because the solar projects are large-scale commercial activities, often requiring exclusive use of federal lands and official land use changes, the environmental assessments and public comment processes are lengthy exercises, Interior Department officials said.
Balancing the need for renewable energy with other environmental concerns, such as land conservation and wildlife preservation, has long been a concern of major green advocacy groups. Some land that is best suited for solar output is also some of the nation’s most fragile desert habitat.
Helen O’Shea, a policy associate for one of those groups, the Natural Resources Defense Council, said:
|"This announcement signals the Department of the Interior’s commitment to proactively finding appropriate places for solar energy development on public lands based on stakeholder input and taking into account environmental impacts. Looking for least conflict areas for solar development is the right place to start and can put America on the right path to addressing the climate crisis while protecting our natural heritage and creating much needed jobs."|
Interior’s press release stated:
| Under one initiative, 24 tracts of Bureau of Land Management-administered land located in six western states, known as Solar Energy Study Areas, would be fully evaluated for their environmental and resource suitability for large-scale solar energy production. The objective is to provide landscape-scale planning and zoning for solar projects on BLM lands in the West, allowing a more efficient process for permitting and siting responsible solar development.
Those areas selected would be available for projects capable of producing 10 or more megawatts of electricity for distribution to customers through the transmission grid system. Companies that propose projects on that scale in areas already approved for this type of development would be eligible for priority processing. The BLM may also decide to use alternative competitive or non-competitive procedures in processing new solar applications for these areas.
The evaluations will be completed in 2010.
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The rescue begins below and continues in the jump. (If you haven’t already, consider joining DK GreenRoots, the new Google Group for environmentally active bloggers.)
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A Siegel took a poke at Dana Milbank's "Goracle" ... six months later ...: "Six months ago, today, the Washington Post's Dana Milbank went to town on Al Gore in With Al due respect, we're doomed with 18 references to the ‘Goracle,’ a right-wing term dismissive of Gore, trying to undermine his strong, science-backed discussion of Global Warming with ridicule suggesting that his substantive work somehow relates to the Delphi Oracle. At the time, too heavily caught up in The Will Affair, taking on yet another Washington Post absurdity on climate issues seemed too tiresome. Well, Plutonium Page dismissed Milbank as applying for an Inhofe internship and I put that dissection aside. Well, Dana has stepped into --it with his attacks on HuffPost's Nico Pitney and that reminded me of Dana's Goracle ..."
Magnifico wrote a DK GreenRoots-tagged diary on Climate War: the United States and China: "Americans are now seeing a changing climate across the country, according to Thomas Karl, director of the National Climatic Data Center at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and a principal author of ‘The United States Global Change Research Report.’ The question now is not if climate change will happen, but how much of a change do we want to allow and how quickly will those changes come? ‘Our destiny is really in our hands,’ Karl explained. "The size of those impacts is significantly smaller with appropriate controls.’"
The Overnight News Digest: "Clean coal's dirty secret" Edition is posted. Included is the story
Study Advises Chinese Government To Change Fuel In Millions Of Households.
Schedule for DK GreenRoots
Wednesday, July 1
All listed times are PDT.
5am: A Siegel with energy meta
3 pm: Asinus Asinum Fricat on bottled water
5 pm: it really is that important visits Shenandoah NP
7 pm: Mark H
Bookflurries: Bookchat by cfk; Siglines! by Wee Mama
Full week schedule here. Plus there'll be music on environmental themes in jotter's High Impact Diaries every morning, along with schedule updates. Additional diaries will be filled in from amongst the following: faithfull, The Cunctator, and Turkana. And we’ll make more slots as needed - anyone who has an environmentally-related story they want to post this week, we’ll create a place on the schedule for you.
In a DK GreenRoots tagged piece, Jeff Biggers wrote that Obama Says Mountain Crimes Can Be Regulated: "Only two days after the US Supreme Court reprimanded the West Virginia Supreme Court for making conflict of interest decisions from its Big Coal-financed justices, and one day after the WV Supreme Court upheld a decision to build a toxic coal silo on the playground of an elementary school, which sits under a 2.8 billion gallon toxic coal sludge pond that is being jeopardized by mountaintop removal blasting, the Obama administration has decided to ‘regulate’ the crime of mountaintop removal. In an extraordinary move to disregard a 38-year rap sheet of crimes of pollution, harassment and forced removal of some of our nation's oldest and most historic communities, and the destruction of over 500 mountains and 1.2 million acres of deciduous hardwood forests in our nation's carbon sink of Appalachia, the Obama administration will announce today that it has decided to ‘regulate’ mountaintop removal mining operations, not abolish them."
SCOTUS denies Chevron Amazon spill appeal wrote bob zimway: "In a surprise decision (I mean, considering the makeup of this group) the US Supreme Court has denied Chevron Corporation's appeal that would shift damage claims of up to 27 billion USD to Ecuador's state owned oil company in the historic oil spill trial in the Amazon Basin. This decison was probably the last legal hope that the desperate oil giant had left."
LaughingPlanet’s DK GreenRoots-tagged diary labeled Ecotourism: Not an oxymoron: "Take nothing but pictures; leave nothing but footprints. But this phrase was coined before the term carbon footprint. Today one's print is much larger than one's foot. With all of the fossil fuel needed to get somewhere, are we now unable to resolve our desire to see the world up close with our desire to tread lightly on the Earth? The question becomes, Is it worth it to travel? Here I will attempt to answer the question with an unequivocal YES! contingent upon doing things with the impact of our choices in mind."
terryhallinancientific American Does Geothermal EarthquakesEngineers are even worse at political science than geology. No need at all to wonder if geothermal power will be blamed for earthquakes, drought, famine, disease. It will be. The threat of removal of heat from magmas is like worrying that spooning water into a teacup will dry up the oceans.
On the other hand the draining of aquifers or introduction of water may well be the proverbial straw that did in the camel.
Got a Grip wrote a DK GreenRoots-tagged diary about learning from one’s predecessors called Walking Gently in the Footsteps of My Ancestors: "The lessons I learned in caring for the earth came from my paternal grandparents and my father and his youngest brother, who were partners in farming until the bitter end. Each had their own lessons to teach me. I paid attention and learned well. My grandmother was a gardening master. No chemicals ever touched her garden. Companion planting and herbaceous borders for beneficial insects and birds was her answer to pests, and weeds were pulled or hoed away. As an infant I flailed my arms in delight from the confines of a basket lined with blankets as she planted potatoes, or peeked over the edge of a makeshift sling tied around her neck as she harvested the tender young shoots of asparagus. As I learned to crawl she'd plop me down in between the rows as she pulled weeds or harvested. I'd crawl along behind her, sampling a green tomato here or a dirt clod there. I cut my teeth on the raw green beans she handed me."
Kaid at NRDC cited T. Caine on Village Green: Tax Sprawl, Subsidize Infill: "Sprawling development is notoriously inefficient; each an oasis of occupancy connected by thin veins of pavement that make car travel a considerable portion of daily life . . . Greenfield development can mean funding for new power lines, new sewers and new roads for a relatively small group of new citizens. It expands the coverage areas for maintenance crews, emergency vehicles and mail delivery that can drastically offset the incremental rise in tax revenue . . . [Yet] there is no need for greenfield building. We have loads of existing space in close proximity to transportation and infrastructure . . ."
Purplepeople was glad that the EPA Grants California Emission Waiver!
indycam assembled some clips about the proposal for Solar on Fed Land: "The president has promised to promote the use of federal land for the production of alternative energy and has set a goal of obtaining 10 percent of the nation's electricity from renewable sources by 2010. Salazar vowed to have 13 ‘commercial-scale’ solar projects under construction by the end of 2010."
In a DK GreenRoots-tagged diary, RLMiller discussed DK Greenroots: Glacier Park 1, Strip Mines 0: "On the American side, it's Glacier National Park: a huge wilderness of peaks, alpine lakes, grizzly bears, mountain goats, and sublime hiking. On the Canadian side, it's the smaller and more developed Waterton Lakes National Park. Together it's known as the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park, a World Heritage Site, and the Crown Jewel of the Rockies. A river runs through it; specifically, the North Fork of the Flathead River on the western border of the American park. Upstream (Canadian side), the Cline Mining Corporation wanted to strip mine a nearby mountain. The mine tailings (which, according to the United States Supreme Court, can no longer be considered ‘pollution’) would be pushed into the Flathead River. Canadian strip mining is the same technique described in Devilstower's excellent FP story on Appalachia; however, the same Bush-era rocket scientists who determined that enhanced interrogation sounded better than torture also decided that mountaintop mining sounds less threatening than strip mining."
In yet another DK GreenRoots-tagged diary, Texas Revolutionary told us about The Left Wing: Owl Farm: "The property is pretty small, about 3 acres, but it's plenty big enough to turn into the perfect bird habitat. When we got it, it was overrun with Juniper, which was choking everything else out except the old oaks. A little brush clearing (actually it's more fun than it sounds. I now understand why the ex-preznit loved it so much) fixed that, and now the flora is starting to balance out a bit. The birding there is already good. We're lucky enough to get both Blue Jays and Scrub Jays, lots of Painted Buntings, and even common birds like Titmice and Cardinals are brighter out there."
In her DK GreenRoots-tagged diary, maggiejean looked at the prospects for Coast Redwoods and Climate Change: "Allow me to begin by introducing you to Professor Todd Dawson who is a plant physiologist and ecologist and who has spent nearly two decades climbing and studying the world’s tallest trees. With help from Save the Redwoods, he’s currently focused on the biggest challenge of his career: helping coast redwoods (Sequoia sempervirens) and their inland relatives, giant sequoias (Sequoiadendron giganteum), weather the storm of climate change."
Elise added the DK GreenRoots tag to Top Comment with The Local Green Economic Stimulus Edition: "The State of Iowa set aside money in the budget for energy efficient home construction in flood damaged areas. The goal is to help low and moderate income families replace homes that were lost in last year's flood. Flood damage victims weren't the only ones who could apply for the program though, it was also open to first time home-buyers. The Iowa Department of Economic Development is responsible for giving out the grant money for this program. Several cities qualify for the grant funding. Iowa City had applications due on 6/15 and they had $2.2 million to approve loans for 40 families. An added benefit: Homeowners who live in the home for five years or more will not need to repay the loan, but if they move before the five-year term has expired, they will be required to pay back a prorated amount. You can see design plans for the homes they'll be building here."