LAFAYETTE, IN - A few weeks back, I wrote a New York Times magazine article about the populist uprising against unbridled oil and gas drilling in the Mountain West. The article highlighted a major theme in my new book, THE UPRISING. In the article, I discussed how the Bush Bureau of Land Management has thrown the principle of environmental caution overboard by opening up a huge amount of federal land to drilling. So it is with more than a little bit absurd to read this New York Times story today:
"Faced with a surge in the number of proposed solar power plants, the federal government has placed a moratorium on new solar projects on public land until it studies their environmental impact, which is expected to take about two years. The Bureau of Land Management says an extensive environmental study is needed to determine how large solar plants might affect millions of acres it oversees in six Western states."
Look - I agree that we need to do a better job of measuring environmental impacts of all proposed energy development - whether that development is solar, oil or gas. But what's so incredible about this story is that the BLM is working to curtail solar development in Western states by citing environmental concerns while at the same actively accelerating oil and gas drilling in Western states - drilling that is way, way worse for the environment than solar energy, from both an emissions perspective and a land-use perspective.
This kind of government fealty to the rapacious fossil fuel industry is precisely what the energy-related populist uprising in West is revolting against.