Good news: Interior all set to fast-track solar projects on public lands

posted at 11:31 am on October 13, 2012 by Erika Johnsen

Well, that’s a relief! Even while the Obama administration continues to dither about finishing those environmental reviews on ostensible-but-still-elusive proof of groundwater contamination from fracking,; and continues to deny oil and gas companies access to America’s own wildly abundant resources; and owns over a third of the United States’ surface area which puts the land to less productive uses than private property owners and businesses could and more often than not engenders environmental degradation while costing American taxpayers a heap; at least we can take a small bit of comfort in knowing that the Department of Interior, in what I’m sure is their completely dispassionate and enlightened wisdom, has recently expended their bureaucratic energies on finalizing a program to quickly review-and-greenlight solar energy projects on public lands across the Western states. From The Hill:

The Interior Department set aside about 285,000 acres for commercial-scale solar in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah. The federal government will offer incentives for development, help facilitate access to existing or planned electric infrastructure and ease the permitting process in the 17 zones.

“Energy from sources like wind and solar have doubled since the president took office, and with today’s milestone, we are laying a sustainable foundation to keep expanding our nation’s domestic energy resources,” Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said. …

The development program approved Friday cuts some up-front costs for developers, as the federal government already has performed National Environmental Policy Act assessments for the sites.

Did you catch those bits about “offering incentives,” “helping to facilitate,” “ease the permitting process,” and “already performed assessments”? Yes, most generous and munificent of the Interior Department to spend OUR money that way, isn’t it?

Who cares that the government’s dabbling in solar and green energy has produced myriad failures at taxpayer expense; that even some environmentalist groups think this could be a bad idea that will mess up pristine and fragile areas and actually cause a greater carbon release that it purports to save; and that solar power has demonstrated no real propensity to cheaply and efficiently provide mass energy while fitting into our infrastructure.

Oh, but here’s the best part:

The administration fired the most recent volley Wednesday by affirming tariffs on Chinese imports. The Commerce Department determined Chinese solar panels were sold below fair value and that its solar businesses unfairly received direct government support.

Yes, you read that correctly — even with all of the many types of subsidies and special government treatment the solar industry receives, they still can’t compete, so the government affords the domestic industry protectionist tariffs… purportedly because China gives its own industry unfair government help.

Is this real life?


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