New Alliance Formed: POWER! is an alliance of organizations and individuals that supports sustainable, local energy that contributes to social, economic, and ecological health.
PEOPLE ONLY WANTING ENERGY RESPONSIBILITY !
Snow Creek, Calif., Oct. 29, 2008 – This summer, environmental justice organizations, environmental organizations, grassroots groups, residents, businesses, and individuals from around the state met at Snow Creek to form an alliance to support renewable energy and to influence the misguided policies that are being presented to the public regarding renewable energy. Its mission statement – “POWER! is an alliance of organizations and individuals that supports sustainable, local energy that contributes to social, economic, and ecological health – embodies the environmental justice considerations lacking in the policy-making decisions of government and some large environmental groups, such as Sierra Club and NRDC [Natural Resources Defense Council].
POWER! has released its position paper stating alternate ways to achieve energy efficiency and move away from fossil fuels without sacrificing rural neighborhoods and communities of color. The paper states, “Some large environmental groups have endorsed ‘big solar’ and ‘big wind’ as the only means to combat global warming. These groups do not represent the needs and well-being of desert (or other affected) communities. They have failed to consider the environmental injustice and inefficiency of building and maintaining remote industrial-scale power plants and long-distance power transmission corridors.” For a copy of the position paper, go to: www.generatelocally.org.
Jim Harvey, co-founder of the Alliance for Responsible Energy Policy, said, “All the Big Energy companies make their profit from keeping the American people dependent on utility-scale energy sources. Big Solar corporations like Bright Source and Solar Millennium, for example, have the exact same disregard for the environment that T. Boone Pickens and other industrial energy giants have. They are all the same bullies with the same mission – to keep locally distributed energy generation appearing unattractive and to lobby our lawmakers so that legislation does not encourage it.”
Big Solar, wind farms, hydroelectric plants, along with the necessary transmission lines, are nothing less than Domestic Terrorism being perpetrated on our rural communities, communities of low income and color, and to our Desert Southwest’s premier wildlands, backcountry, and precious parks. It has been reported that up to 3,500 private property owners will have their property taken for “the better good”.
Austin Puglisi, a resident of Morongo Valley, rejects the false choice of global versus local environmentalism. “The city of Los Angeles plans to build giant transmission lines through my community, which would also cross at least two established nature preserves. They call this ‘Green Path’ to sell it, but it is anything but green. Local renewable power generation would reduce greenhouse gases while eliminating the need for destructive transmission lines.”
Propositions 7 and 10 are a boondoggle to ratepayers and a bonanza for Big Energy, says Donna Charpied, from the Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice. “It makes no sense to fast track proposals that are unproven and unrealistically costly to rate payers and taxpayers, with Prop 7, and pave the way for dependence on fossil fuels in the form of natural gas that will serve only to feather the nest of T. Boone Pickens, with Prop 10.”
Donna Tisdale, from Boulevard, Calif., co-founder of Backcountry Against Dumps, explains her disappointment, “It is incredibly disheartening to find Sierra Club’s upper management working at odds against the best interest of our community, and willingly lending credence to such an aggressive and ,in my opinion, less than honest or honorable, wind energy company, Iberdrola. Especially in light of new information that there are much better, less invasive ways to generate renewable energy.”
The Bureau of Land Management [BLM] cowers to developers and goes as far as changing protective designations on lands it administers and is changing the Final EIS for Eastern San Diego County to increase acreage available for industrial wind turbines from 6,900 acres to over 30,000, along the western edge of Anza Borrego State Park almost up to Julian. Now they are amending the plan to allow a new utility corridor for the SDG&E’s controversial 500-kV Sunrise Powerlink.
The Coachella Valley, where poor policies have left residents living with the impacts from industrial turbines, faces even more proposals in the towns of Garnett, Desert Hot Springs, Whitewater, and the beautiful and rustic village of Snow Creek. Les Starks explains, “Snow Creek is a very special place where one can conveniently exit Interstate 10 and soon find a place that is quiet, safe, and stunningly breathtaking in its beauty. The north face of Mount San Jacinto has been noted historically, and still acknowledged today, as one of the country’s most beautiful views. This visual treasure would be negatively affected by the sight and sounds of moving structures, and by the associated elements such as maintenance roads, fences, and lighting.”
A common misconception about industrial-scale renewable development, especially solar power, is that it is benign to the immediate surroundings. For instance, some believe that a solar farm’s main impact is that it shades the plants and animals living underneath the solar collectors. In truth, solar farms usually scrape the entire project site to provide level terrain. Renewable development in the desert will destroy all of the natural, cultural, and visual resources within the project area. In some cases, these impacts extend well beyond the project’s “footprint”, particularly if it would require building hundreds of miles of transmission lines to transport the energy produced.
Larry Charpied, co-founder of Citizens for the Chuckwalla Valley, explains that there are nearly 40,000 acres of solar proposed in his rural community. “We are not only facing the proposed Eagle Mountain dump, we’re also potentially saddled with a hydro-electric pumped storage proposal, as well as the solar projects. One company, OptiSolar, has thousands of acres proposed next to Joshua Tree National Park. When we sent an FOIA [Freedom of Information Act] request to learn more about the project, the BLM denied our request except for some innocuous documents. This makes me wonder how much ‘sex, drugs, and rock and roll’ is happening within the Department of the Interior and developers of so called ‘green energy proposals’. I hope the GAO is looking closely at what is happening out west!”
“At this time, the BLM has received up to 200 applications to build solar plants on federal land. In California alone, there are 80 proposals involving 700,000 acres. In Nevada there are 23 applications. So far, the BLM has accepted about 130 applications to build solar plants on one million acres of public land in six states. And, as of August 7, 2008, there were 63 wind energy applications for 412,547 acres secured with BLM Right of Ways just in the California Desert District, plus a number of wind energy applications in Nevada,” says Kevin Emmerich, a Nevada activist.
The bottom line is, there are better ways to meet our energy goals without the negative environmental justice, conservation, and environmental issues if policies are set to meet the needs of the people as opposed to the corporations who will reap a windfall at taxpayers’ and ratepayers’ expense. But then again, policies may be influenced when respected people like Robert F. Kennedy Jr. are named senior advisers at VantagePoint Venture Partners last year while VantagePoint has a multimillion-dollar stake in BrightSource Energy, according to the L.A. Times. BrightSource plans to build solar projects on nearly six square miles along the Nevada border. Kennedy stands to profit should the projects come to fruition. Yet at the same time, the Kennedys oppose wind projects near their home. They recognize the impacts from these so called “green projects”, but they seem okay as long as they stay out of their back yard.
D’Anne Albers: Morongo Basin Conservation Association; firstname.lastname@example.org (760) 361-7416
Donna Charpied: Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice; email@example.com (760) 574-1887
Larry Charpied: Citizens for the Chuckwalla Valley; firstname.lastname@example.org (760) 987-1363
Kevin Emmerich: Nevada Activist; email@example.com (775) 553-2806
Terry Frewin: Sierra Club CA/NV Desert Committee; firstname.lastname@example.org (805) 966-3754
Edie Harmon: Sierra Club CA/NV Desert Committee; email@example.com
Jim Harvey: Alliance for Responsible Energy Policy; firstname.lastname@example.org
Stan Haye: Sierra Club CA/NV Desert Committee; email@example.com (760) 375-8973
Joyce Manley: Community of Whitewater; firstname.lastname@example.org (760) 251-9907
John and Maura Moody: Desert Survivors; email@example.com (707) 829-1689
Austin Puglisi: Morongo Valley, CA
Ruth Rieman: California Desert Coalition; firstname.lastname@example.org (760) 364-3455
Les Starks: Community of Snow Creek; email@example.com (760) 323-4089
Donna Tisdale: Backcountry Against Dumps; firstname.lastname@example.org (619) 766-4170
Alexandra Weit: Community of Snow Creek; email@example.com (760) 325-0547
For Immediate Release
October 29, 2008
Donna Charpied, Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice: (760) 574-1887
Kevin Emmerich, Nevada: (775) 553-2806
Jim Harvey, Alliance for Responsible Energy Policy: (760) 401-1015
Les Starks, Snow Creek Village community of Whitewater, Ca.: (760) 323-4089
Donna Tisdale, Backcountry Against Dumps: (619) 766-4170