It’s not so clear where the renewable energy would come from, either — not since Senator Dianne Feinstein announced her intention to introduce legislation to restrict solar power projects from being placed in the Mojave Desert.
In fact, the legislation won’t even be needed. By simply putting the project planners on notice, Feinstein has driven many of them out. As was reported last December in the New York Times:
“When we attended the onsite desert meeting with Senator Feinstein, it was clear she was very serious about this,” said Gary Palo, vice president for development with Cogentrix Energy, a solar developer owned by Goldman Sachs. “It would make no sense for us politically or practically to go forward with those projects.”
The fact is that solar and wind projects are, at best, on the very edge of being economically feasible under perfect conditions. Add regulatory uncertainty and a multiyear legislative fight — think about the Yucca Mountain waste repository in Nevada, peremptorily closed by the Obama administration after years of studies and billions of dollars invested — and there simply is no economic reason for any company to get involved.
But this presents a dilemma. If California is to supply 33 percent of its power through wind and solar, but wind and solar plants can’t be built, where will the power come from?
This is the problem that the environmental movement now has to face: are there projects, plans, methods of providing energy and raw materials that are acceptable?
To some environmentalists, there are not. The final reduction to absurdity of this is the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement, which proposes, apparently seriously, that humanity should allow itself to die out. Les U. Knight, a spokesman for the movement, said that “…as long as there is one breeding pair of humans, there’s too great a threat to the biosphere.”
Clearly, most environmentalists won’t go that far. There are plenty of children in attendance with their parents at environmental rallies. But it is the limiting case of a general assumption among the environmental movement: that any development — any noticeable sign of human habitation — is “unnatural” — especially when it’s visible from someone’s condominium.
As long as that assumption continues, there will be plenty of people in the environmental activism industry willing to grab money and power under the guise of environmentalism.