The Department of Interior reached its goal of approving 10,000 megawatts of renewable energy projects on public lands this week. As people across the globe look for places to install solar panels in their cities or on already-disturbed lands, Washington DC has decided that it will stick to the tired tradition of feeding our energy addiction by destroying beautiful landscapes.
The Sierra Madre/Chokecherry Wind project in Wyoming –the project that pushed Interior over the 10,000 MW mark – is very representative of the unsustainable direction our industrial renewable energy policy is taking. It will destroy and fragment nearly 355 square miles of Wyoming wildlands, and scientists estimate that it could kill as many as 5,400 birds and 6,300 bats each year. Wyoming’s air and water were already sacrificed to the natural gas and coal industries, now even more pristine lands and wildlife will be lost. The customers of this energy could be hundreds of miles away, requiring new transmission lines and even more destruction.
Every megawatt of energy produced on top of once-intact ecosystems is another megawatt following an outdated energy model; a model that subjugates rather than celebrates landscapes and wildlife. It is a model that calls on the same big corporations and banks that got us hooked on carbon to bail us out, and gives them a free pass to do what they do best – destroy nature.
We celebrate 10,000 megawatts of renewable energy on public wildlands as Germany celebrates over 25,000 megawatts of solar on rooftops, and Australia has over 750,000 homes with solar panels.
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