Deserts are always favorite dumping grounds for leftists in their pricey “green” schemes, as any resident of Palm Springs, Calif. — fighting headaches under the constant whirring humming sound of wind turbines can tell you — but nowhere was the urge greater to dump on the desert bigger than against the large, sparsely populated San Bernardino County, where state planners decided that a million acres in that county, to be devoted to glassy solar panel farms, would be great for California fulfilling its “green” energy goals.
Much to their surprise, the County, by a 4-1 vote, said no. According to National Wind Watch:
California’s largest county has banned the construction of large solar and wind farms on more than 1 million acres of private land, bending to the will of residents who say they don’t want renewable energy projects industrializing their rural desert communities northeast of Los Angeles.
Thursday’s 4-1 vote by San Bernardino County’s Board of Supervisors highlighted a challenge California could face as it seeks to eliminate the burning of planet-warming fossil fuels.
And puts a clamp on the state’s big plans for being the greenest state of all by 2045. Here’s what it gums up, according to the Los Angeles Times:
State lawmakers passed a bill last year requiring utility companies to get 60% of their electricity from renewable sources by 2030, and 100% from climate-friendly sources by 2045. But achieving those goals will require cooperation from local governments — and big solar and wind farms, like many infrastructure projects, are often unpopular at the local level.
National Wind Watch reports that residents had this to say about it:
Dozens of local residents spoke in support of the proposed ban, known as Renewable Energy Policy 4.10. They came from high desert communities such as Daggett, Joshua Tree and Lucerne Valley, where existing solar projects are seen by many as eyesores that destroy desert ecosystems and fuel larger dust storms.
Sound like some place you’d like to live? It’s not just that solar energy is extremely wasteful of land resources, which is why people move there in the first place. Solar panel farms are also nasty stuff for birds, acting as a giant frying pan for any bird that flies over them, incinerating them as they chase the bugs that the heated, light-reflective panels attract. Plague of locusts, anyone?
Here’s another problem: the reflected light from the solar mega-farms blinds pilots flying airliners over the area. Plane crashes on your housetops, anyone?
Lastly, all solar and other green energy schemes have a habit of attracting fraud. All you have to do is look at Solyndra. The city of San Bernardino (not the county) suffered greatly from its bankruptcy in 2012, owing to the Obama-era housing bubble crash, killing the city’s tax base. Most people in the area were newer residents fleeing California’s coastal areas owing to the high-cost housing market, and as a result, they were more economically fragile buyers. Their area was hit hard with housing defaults, short sales, and bankruptcies as the economy crashed and economically fragile buyers went under. I remember driving around in the area at the time and seeing all the for-sale signs and thinking it all looked like a wasteland. Five years on, the city has recovered from bankruptcy, yet the memory of bad times based on fiscal overspending probably remains. I suspect that the county is always going to be wary of any get-rich-quick solar deals, given how bad things look when it all comes down. The residents, based on the reporting, seem to be focused on sustaining themselves in actually sustainable ways.
The bottom line is that the central planners, who cooked up the ridiculous scheme of renewable energy targets, aren’t going to get it on San Bernardino County’s back. They’ll actually have to come up with something sustainable and equitable instead of just lean on the desert communities to do it all, comfortable in the idea that no one is going to notice. The coastal elites, who managed to end oil drilling off the scenic Santa Barbara coast due to NIMBY opposition, are now getting a taste of the same from the tiny desert communities. They will now have to figure it out on their own how to make California the world’s greenest star or better still, just scrap the idiocy.
Thanks, San Bernardino County!