The wrong sites for solar

Posted: May 19, 2011

Written by

ERICA ROSENBERG and JANINE BLAELOCH, The Los Angeles Times

Is it possible that solar energy — clean, renewable, virtually infinite — could have a downside? As it's being pursued on our public lands, yes.

In the name of greening America, the Obama administration is about to open up as much as 21.5 million acres of mostly undisturbed, fragile desert land for potential industrial-scale solar energy development. That means huge swaths of public land in the West could be developed, degraded and effectively privatized.

But such degradation isn't necessary. We can have solar energy while keeping the desert wild and public lands truly public. The government has lower-impact options, such as putting solar developments on already degraded public and private land. It could also pursue the more efficient and far less damaging tactic of deploying solar panels across vast acreages of rooftops and parking lots.

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