From 1999 to 2004 land in the Mojave Desert transferred ownership from the Santa Fe and Southern Pacific Railroad to the government for the benefit of the public with the hopes of conserving the area’s beauty and nature. Because of the intensity of the sun in the desert, it would seem that this is the ideal spot for harnessing solar energy, however because the land was put into public hands for conservation many, people, Senator Diane Feinstein [D] included, believe that the integration of solar energy production might prove detrimental to the local ecosystem.
One of the primary concerns, aside from possible rampant development and aesthetical drawbacks, is that significant disturbances to the land would have a negative impact on the region’s tortoise population.
It’s uncertain if she meant to offer a compromise, but Feinstein issued forth a bill that would make the land a national monument, which would stave off future development in the public land but would grandfather in any ventures already in existence at the time the bill is passed.
At present the Bureau of Land Management considers the land to be open to development of any kind. There are currently 19 companies who are awaiting application approval to begin solar development in 500,000 acres of the Mojave Desert. If their requests are granted before Feinstein’s initiative becomes law (if it passes) then they would be allowed to continue with their efforts.
On the one hand, what a wonderful opportunity toward a major solar power development. Isn’t this what we’re always pushing for? Less dependency on fossil fuels and the foreign countries we harbor ill relations with and new ways to become sustainable and fuel our energy in a more eco-friendly way. But on the other hand, it seems that in doing so, we are also destroying nature in order to make room for the mechanisms and structures necessary to bring that development to life.
Every adult knows that life is a constant trade-off, a balance. In order to have some good, you must take some bad. A little sweet comes at the expense of a little bitter. It just seems a shame that in order to make bold strides into solar energy, which we know will benefit us for centuries to come, it may come at the sacrifice of portions of the planet’s ecosystem. Even knowing that it will be a trade-off and that some sort of compromise must be struck, isn’t there a better way?