The DOI in October 2012 finalized its Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS), establishing an initial set of 17 solar energy zones totaling about 285,000 acres of public lands that would serve as priority areas for commercial-scale solar development. It essentially provides a blueprint for utility-scale solar energy permitting for solar power projects on public lands in six western states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah.Shockingly, I find myself in general agreement with the NGOs. At this point, we don't need massive solar energy plants in the western wilderness. We can do fine extracting coal and natural gas from a much smaller area.Give solar energy a few more years to see if it can become efficient enough to substantially reduce the environmental foot print.
According to the groups, as of mid-January, 11 solar projects had been approved on 41,350 acres of public land. The projects range from 516 to 7,025 acres, with the average power plant exceeding 3,700 acres. About 87 proposals are pending, meanwhile, covering a total of 670,599 acres of public land.
"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."
However, I don't believe the NGOs should be in the business of suing the government in an effort to change policy.