Posted In | By Shaun
Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar on Friday signed the record of decision for the Obama administration’s Solar Energy Development Program. Solar Done Right opposes this policy because it unnecessarily makes hundreds of square miles of public lands in the southwest available to energy companies, sacrifices important wildlife habitat, cultural resources, stunning landscapes, and requires expensive new transmission lines. Solar Done Right continues to advocate for more sustainable clean energy solutions, including energy efficiency improvements, solar panels on rooftops and other places in our cities, or solar facilities on already-disturbed lands.
The Department of Interior’s new policy is not much different than the status quo we have fought to change. Although the policy attempts to encourage companies to build in special “solar energy zones,” these zones still contain vast swaths of ecologically intact desert habitat that host rare and endangered plant and animal species. The policy would also allow companies to build on 19 million acres of “variance” lands in some of the most remote corners of our deserts. Although the policy establishes some exclusion zones where future energy development will be prohibited to protect natural and cultural resources, the policy will still allow dozens of industrial project applications pending review to proceed without any restrictions in the exclusion zones.
The success of the solar industry is not dependent on access to public lands, as we have already seen in the United States and other countries. California already has over 1,300 megawatts of rooftop solar panels, over 750,000 homes in Australia have installed solar panels, and Germany now generates over 25,000 megawatts of clean energy from mostly local solar installations. Truly clean and sustainable energy can be generated in our cities, and not on public lands.