Saturday, March 21, 2009

Not in my back yard!

They only want clean, "renewable" energy. Obama promised to "invest" in solar technology, and provide us "energy independence," whatever that is. Note that we don't have "food independence," "clothing independence," "software support independence," or, as the past months have demonstrated, "banking and finance independence." But for some reason it's important that we only use energy sources found within American borders. Er, unless they are gas, coal, and oil. We'll keep our own deposits of oil and gas locked up, buy more and more from abroad, and stop using coal--which provides about half of our electricity--altogether.

Well, at least we can all agree that generating electricity from the sun requires massive solar arrays, and they should be placed in a large, flat, sunny area. The Mojave Desert of southern California would seem to be ideal for this purpose--barren, off-limits to housing and commercial development and mining, and sunny and clear almost every day of the year. And yet there is one fly in the ointment, if by ointment you mean billions of your dollars being spread on the lithe, muscular back of favored special interests, and by fly you mean U.S. senator.

Dianne Feinstein (D., Crazy-Land) has deemed placing solar arrays in the Mojave "unacceptable," and has directed Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to suspend any further consideration of solar plans for the area. She believes the aesthetics of the desert will be spoiled by massive solar arrays stretching to the horizon in all directions.

Feinstein's spokesman Gil Duran said "There's plenty of room in America's deserts for the bold expansion of renewable energy projects." There sure is, Gil. After all, the Mojave Desert covers about 25,000 square miles. Current permit requests for building solar plants request the use of 500,000 acres of that land, or a bit over three percent. Surely three percent of the land can be set aside for what your supporters call "clean, renewable energy." Why not? Next you'll be telling us we can't put windmills off the Massachusetts coast because the wealthy family of a U.S. senator thinks the mills will spoil their views while sailing.

Perhaps we can compromise, Dianne. You remember compromise--it's what you had to occasionally do before you had a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, and could ram through legislation that most Senators hadn't even read. Instead of half a million acres, let's set aside five percent of that amount--25,000 acres. Choose sites reasonably near existing transmission lines, and you'll be all set to build facilities than can create millions of watts of clean, carbon-free electricity, and they'll do it 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Let's build some nuclear power plants, Dianne.

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