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Solar power in the desert: the environmental price

BrightSource Energy's Ivanpah solar power plant at dawn. Vegetation has been mowed and sensitive creatures relocated for the plant's construction. But what effect it will have on the desert ecosystem is unclear. (Mark Boster, Los Angeles Times / November 4, 2011)

Whether or not we like it, massive solar developments will change America’s deserts forever. Julie Cart at Los Angeles Times writes about it here:

Industrial-scale solar development is well underway in California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and Utah. The federal government has furnished more public property to this cause than it has for oil and gas exploration over the last decade — 21 million acres, more than the area of Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino counties put together.

Even if only a few of the proposed projects are built, hundreds of square miles of wild land will be scraped clear. Several thousand miles of power transmission corridors will be created.

The desert will be scarred well beyond a human life span, and no amount of mitigation will repair it, according to scores of federal and state environmental reviews.

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