Environmentalists suing the Interior Department over… solar zones

posted at 5:31 pm on February 16, 2013 by Erika Johnsen

Oh, the sweet, sweet irony of environmentalist infighting.

The Obama administration (while somehow finding every excuse in the world to dawdle and delay on major economy-impacting items like federal drilling permits, hydraulic fracturing rules, and the Keystone XL pipeline) decided to make an especial project out using public lands for utility-scale solar plants. The Interior Department identified ‘solar zones’ across Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah, and prioritized designing a program to fast-track solar permits for their designated areas.

The entire purpose of this ostentatious bureaucratic exercise, of course, is to help the Obama administration beef up and showcase their super-duper green, environmentalist credentials… except that a lot of well-organized environmentalists are actually pretty ticked off about the whole thing.

Three environmental groups are suing the Department of Interior for what they say is the federal government’s failure to consider already-degraded land for these ecologically “destructive” solar plants, and that they’re instead sticking the projects wherever they darn well feel like it without fully considering the consequences:

A complaint filed with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California on Tuesday by the Western Lands Project, Desert Protective Council, and Western Watersheds Project says the government’s analysis under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) “ignored alternative approaches that would be less damaging to the environment, more efficient, and less costly to taxpayers and ratepayers.” …

“Massive solar power plants will have irreversible, essentially permanent, impacts. The [Bureau of Land Management (BLM)] admits that ecological recovery after solar plants are decommissioned, if even possible, could take 3,000 years,” the groups said.

“The Administration is opting to needlessly turn multiple-use public lands into permanent industrial zones.” said Janine Blaeloch of the Seattle-based Western Lands Project. “Solar development belongs on rooftops, parking lots, already-developed areas, and on degraded sites, not our public lands.”

The Obama administration may have been hasty and careless about fully anticipating the unintended consequences of their political agenda in their eagerness to show off their total awesomeness, say what?

This is far from the first time various environmentalist groups have been dissatisfied with the federal government’s solar policies; some eco-groups will come out swinging in protection of the desert tortoise’s natural habitat while other lobbies are more about trying to reduce greenhouse gas emissions via ostensibly green energy forms, so it’d be tough to please them all, I suppose. Still, the fact that a big reason that the Obama administration is doing this is specifically to tout their green-friendly agenda, and that environmentalists are giving them some of the most significant grief about the endeavor, pleases me to no end.


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To quote the late multiply-convicted felon “Can’t we all just get along?”

Just kidding, I’d much rather watch them claw each others’ eyes out.

Now where’s my popcorn . . .

SoRight on February 16, 2013 at 5:36 PM

Don’t think that they’re a thorn in his side Erika. This tool loves being outflanked on the left, makes him look like one of the mythical moderate Republicans of yesteryear. He welcomes all schizoids who want to make the case that he’s a crypto republican house-something sellout that needs to tack to the left in order to get anything done.

Motto of the communist party USA: Today’s left is tomorrow’s center, today’s center is tomorrow’s right.

abobo on February 16, 2013 at 5:38 PM

Hooray. The classic case of the endangered animal found to be eating the endangered plant.

Here’s a solution: just give our money directly to Barky’s Friends (which is all Barky actually wants from the whole deal), and don’t bother building the damn ugly solar/wind things (which will keep the greenies happier). Win win. It’s all good…

bofh on February 16, 2013 at 5:47 PM

We should dump the environmentalists into the coral reefs to help rebuild them.

wildcat72 on February 16, 2013 at 5:48 PM

Excellent, and I hope they have more success at stopping the DIC (Destroyer In Chief) than the rest of us have had.

VorDaj on February 16, 2013 at 5:50 PM

When will someone challenge the eco-Marxists and start demanding from them a solution to our energy needs? Instead year after year they get away with just saying No and never being held responsible for the massive economic impact of their intransigence.

If they don’t like gas and oil then force them to come up with an economically viable alternative and ignore them until they do. These people have absolutely zero answers.

Charlemagne on February 16, 2013 at 5:54 PM

Next up: Sue God for bad weather. All Jewish Temples and Christian churches pony up. Mosques are excluded–just to be fair.

Liam on February 16, 2013 at 5:55 PM

The left sure does love to waste money.

tom daschle concerned on February 16, 2013 at 5:58 PM

It would be nice too if we could cut off the hundreds of millions in taxpayer dollars shoveled to these groups by the EPA, Dept. of Interior, et al

Charlemagne on February 16, 2013 at 5:58 PM

and prioritized designing a program to fast-track solar permits for their designated areas.
========================

So much for prioritizing Oil Drilling!

canopfor on February 16, 2013 at 5:59 PM

It’s really about time we stop indulging liberal loonies, and send them packing. If they have a valid point or place, the free market will give them all credence if they’re truly right.

Liam on February 16, 2013 at 6:00 PM

Environmentalists suing the Interior Department over… solar zones

…can we start a Fast & Furious operation?

KOOLAID2 on February 16, 2013 at 6:02 PM

We should dump the environmentalists into the coral reefs to help rebuild them.

wildcat72 on February 16, 2013 at 5:48 PM


that’s Nancy Pelosi thinking for the Right…I like that!

KOOLAID2 on February 16, 2013 at 6:06 PM

…can we start a Fast & Furious operation?

KOOLAID2 on February 16, 2013 at 6:02 PM

The worst thing in the world to a liberal is to disregard her. They can’t handle that. The instant a lib starts jabbering, just walk away in silence.

Liam on February 16, 2013 at 6:07 PM

Haha, living in the People’s Republic of Portland I have been watching the enviro occupy greenie types fight the government for about 2 years and every instance is funny.
They will not or cannot learn that Obama just cares about Obama. He and his administration are completely deaf to logic or anything else, including greenie wackos.

ORconservative on February 16, 2013 at 6:09 PM

KOOLAID2 on February 16, 2013 at 6:02 PM

The liberal concept of free speech is that everyone else is required to listen. Stop listening, and the lib emotionally implodes.

Liam on February 16, 2013 at 6:09 PM

3000 years? Really? Where do they come up with these numbers? The earth really is quite resilient, I think it will not take many years after ripping up the useless solar cells before all the plants and animals come back just as happy as before. Matter of fact, I’m guessing, that like the caribou did with the pipeline, the native animals are going to find the solar panels to their liking, providing shade and shelter most likely to the detriment of the people erecting those solar farms as the rats, bats, and birds start building nests in critical components.

AZfederalist on February 16, 2013 at 6:11 PM

OT sorta…But it is environmental sorta…

Meteor crashes in Russia…Meteor reported in Cuba…Meteor lights up SF Bay area…

What do these locations have in common?

workingclass artist on February 16, 2013 at 6:18 PM

AZfederalist on February 16, 2013 at 6:11 PM

Yeah, 3000 years. Just like that Mt. St. Helen’s disaster in 1980 where no life exists … oh, wait.

IrishEyes on February 16, 2013 at 6:21 PM

I guess it really is a “dog eat dog” world! :)

IrishEyes on February 16, 2013 at 6:22 PM

One of Romney’s best political ads was the one in front of the shuttered Solyndra plant.

Too many of these “green” projects have gone bankrupt and have put the American taxpayer on the hook for the inefficient power sources.

Erika, considering all of the crony deals that the Obysmal administration has engaged in, why not post a thread on how Facebook has taken the American revenue stream for a ride? http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2013-02-15/facebook-gets-a-multi-billion-dollar-tax-break

onlineanalyst on February 16, 2013 at 6:22 PM

ignored alternative approaches that would be less damaging to the environment, more efficient, and less costly to taxpayers and ratepayers.” …

And they’re just getting it now?

IrishEyes on February 16, 2013 at 6:23 PM

OT sorta…But it is environmental sorta…

Meteor crashes in Russia…Meteor reported in Cuba…Meteor lights up SF Bay area…

What do these locations have in common?

workingclass artist on February 16, 2013 at 6:18 PM

Let’s expect one to light up Venezuela soon.

onlineanalyst on February 16, 2013 at 6:23 PM

Look, from the feds’ standpoint this is all about getting more of rural America hooked on the subsidy drug.

Just like California’s “high-speed rail”. Get some bureaucrat and construction jobs out there in the valley so people will forget that you took away their water.

Hey Mr Farmer, just sign right here, and you can hitch your wagon to another one of those permanent Federal giveaways just like the Iowa corn farmers.

They don’t get what they want if you put these projects in existing Democrat-heavy urban ratholes. They want to create a dependency mindset in the rural voters.

JEM on February 16, 2013 at 6:24 PM

And did you hear that Robert Kennedy, Jr. and his son were arrested outside the WH grounds for obstructing traffic during their anti-Keystone Pipeline project?

onlineanalyst on February 16, 2013 at 6:27 PM

leftists are never very good at estimating how long the earth takes to ‘heal’, they live in a static world…just like the centralized planning they hold so dear..no unintended consequences, all unicorns and cotton candy…or, if you are Hansen, a world that resembles Venus…a fiery death for your grandchildren

odd people, these leftists..assorted cranks. But I like the desert, i don’t want the miles of solar cells, or windmills, so i hope they win.

and, then, maybe someday, if we make it, we will have advanced nuclear, small footprint baseload technology.

r keller on February 16, 2013 at 6:29 PM

Bottom line: Environmentalists believe ALL energy production is bad.

From oil to wind, from coal to solar, from hydroelectric to nuclear. It’s all to be opposed.

Environmentalism is a religion in which “nature” is good and holy and man is dirty and evil. Anything man does to in any way change the perfect balance of nature is wrong. There will never be a form of energy production that is suitable to these people.

Shump on February 16, 2013 at 6:29 PM

and that they’re instead sticking the projects wherever they darn well feel like it without fully considering the consequences:

Why should we expect the socialist to behave any more responsibly than did their spiritual mentor–the Soviet Union–one of the most environmentally destructive ideologies ever?

Don L on February 16, 2013 at 6:30 PM

Environmentalism is a religion in which “nature” is good and holy and man is dirty and evil. Anything man does to in any way change the perfect balance of nature is wrong. There will never be a form of energy production that is suitable to these people.

Shump on February 16, 2013 at 6:29 PM

Except it is the purest act of “nature” for man to reproduce, but the eco-nuts hate such natural things and see children and babies as enemies of nature. Sick!

Don L on February 16, 2013 at 6:33 PM

I remember I once heard a story about the department of agriculture running ads to encourage people to eat some kind of food at the exact same time that HHS was running an ad campaign warning of the dangers of consuming the exact same food.

How long until the EPA gets in on this and files suit against the Interior Department?

RINO in Name Only on February 16, 2013 at 6:49 PM

“The new estimates, based on additional readings from a sensor network built to detect nuclear blasts, suggest the meteor released the energy equivalent of nearly 500 kilotons of TNT. That’s about 30 times the power of the Hiroshima atomic bomb.”

J_Crater on February 16, 2013 at 6:53 PM

Except it is the purest act of “nature” for man to reproduce, but the eco-nuts hate such natural things and see children and babies as enemies of nature. Sick!

Don L on February 16, 2013 at 6:33 PM

…that’s why we’re always telling eco-nuts to “GO REINCARNATE YOURSELF!”

KOOLAID2 on February 16, 2013 at 6:58 PM

Eh another wink and a nod lawsuit. The left engages in this nonsense all the time.

Wigglesworth on February 16, 2013 at 7:16 PM

Question is why don’t conservative groups wanting to stop the waste of taxpayer money on these projects take a page from the environmentalists playbook and use the environmental laws to delay if not stop them?

Nomas on February 16, 2013 at 7:50 PM

Get out the popcorn!

GarandFan on February 16, 2013 at 7:52 PM

Question is why don’t conservative groups wanting to stop the waste of taxpayer money on these projects take a page from the environmentalists playbook and use the environmental laws to delay if not stop them?

Nomas on February 16, 2013 at 7:50 PM

If I’m not mistaken, Jugears has signed an executive order that bypasses much of the environmental requirements and studies to get these projects approved. Are they violating the law? Probably. Has that ever stopped this administration? How many offshore permits have been issued after the administration was found in contempt of court?

AZfederalist on February 16, 2013 at 8:15 PM

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/energy/8917633/A-dead-heat-crematorium-to-sell-power-for-National-Grid.html

Bottom line: Environmentalists believe ALL energy production is bad.

From oil to wind, from coal to solar, from hydroelectric to nuclear. It’s all to be opposed.

Environmentalism is a religion in which “nature” is good and holy and man is dirty and evil. Anything man does to in any way change the perfect balance of nature is wrong. There will never be a form of energy production that is suitable to these people.

Shump on February 16, 2013 at 6:29 PM

Sorry. wish it weren’t so, but you’re wrong.

WryTrvllr on February 16, 2013 at 8:19 PM

3000 years? Really? Where do they come up with these numbers? The earth really is quite resilient, I think it will not take many years after ripping up the useless solar cells before all the plants and animals come back just as happy as before. Matter of fact, I’m guessing, that like the caribou did with the pipeline, the native animals are going to find the solar panels to their liking, providing shade and shelter most likely to the detriment of the people erecting those solar farms as the rats, bats, and birds start building nests in critical components.

AZfederalist on February 16, 2013 at 6:11 PM

.
Yeah, 3000 years. Just like that Mt. St. Helen’s disaster in 1980 where no life exists … oh, wait.

IrishEyes on February 16, 2013 at 6:21 PM

.
Dittos to both of you.

Mt St Helens is as perfect an example as we could use for the whole STUPID argument.

Just how big of a HOLE was blown in the “Ozone layer” by eruption/explosion?

How much long-term suffering has there been as a result of it?

If we deliberately set out to reproduce all of the energy that was simultaneously released by that event, could we?

listens2glenn on February 16, 2013 at 8:30 PM

Hooray. The classic case of the endangered animal found to be eating the endangered plant.

Here’s a solution: just give our money directly to Barky’s Friends (which is all Barky actually wants from the whole deal), and don’t bother building the damn ugly solar/wind things (which will keep the greenies happier). Win win. It’s all good…

bofh on February 16, 2013 at 5:47 PM

Great idea!

May I suggest that we go one step further and give each year to:
Each Congress Man/Woman 250 million.
Each Senator 500 million.
The Vice President 500 million
And the President 2 billion.

That they get to disperse anyway they want. They may keep it (only 25%) give it to their friends or pet projects, whatever.

In return we get the Cabinet reduced to State and Defense with budgets of 50 and 500 billion, to spend the way they want. All other “funding” is stopped, ALL OF IT.

Thats a total of 708,750,000,000. Which is, I believe, a little less than 1/3 of what the federal government currently collects in taxes each year.

It makes the politicians happy, they don’t have to concoct elaborate schemes to funnel money, usually only very small fractions of 1% of the “projects” total, to themselves or their friends on “projects” that don’t work anyway or aren’t real. Taxes then can be greatly reduced.

Also it will demand personal responsibility once again with the added benefit of a small unobtrusive Federal government.

Just a thought.

1791 on February 16, 2013 at 10:07 PM

Most if not all government fixes come with a long list of unintended consequences… Eventually the most offended leftist wins. It’s the New American Way.

RalphyBoy on February 16, 2013 at 10:42 PM

Unexpec… oh, why bother finishing it.

Marcola on February 16, 2013 at 11:31 PM

Regarding the 3000 years claim….

Pacific Northwest forests like around Mt St Helen’s aren’t a good indication of what a desert sees when scarred. I’ve spent much time in the Mojave Desert, flown over it in my small plane, and flown more miles over the Western US in airliners than I care to remember.

I’ve seen the Jeffersonian grid system from the air, and the Santa Fe Trail in South Eastern Colorado. The area near Fossil Falls on Hwy 395 in the Owens Valley looks like it hasn’t changed in a million years.

I believe 3000 years for the human impact of a solar farm is probably an underestimate in a desert environment.

Jimmy Doolittle on February 17, 2013 at 4:06 AM

Oops. Fossil Falls is only about 20,000 years old. Still, looks like it happened yesterday.

Jimmy Doolittle on February 17, 2013 at 4:14 AM

Just you wait til the greenies find out about all those manufacturing hubs dear leader wants to have built all across the country to bring those high paying jobs back to the USA. Will they have a green cow!

Kissmygrits on February 17, 2013 at 8:32 AM

Regarding the 3,000 years… Jimmy D is right. You can’t compare Mount St. Helens to the Mojave and Sonoran deserts, where it can take considerably longer for areas to revegetate.

Recently, I spoke with a representative from one of the large utility companies here in Arizona, and was told that they have no plans to develop large-scale solar farms. Instead, they’d prefer to have their solar facilities located closer to urban areas; with the emphasis placed on leasing solar panels to homeowners, taking advantage of existing structures (parking garages, undeveloped lots/parcels, industrial rooftops etc.), and creating small, local solar farms.

Don’t get me wrong, cat fights between environmentalists is always good for a chuckle – but in this case, they make a good point about Obama’s ill-conceived green energy plans.

Hill60 on February 17, 2013 at 12:07 PM