LA Times’ View | Solar in the Desert

The LA Times weighed in today on the controversy over California Senator Dianne Feinstein’s bill to make large areas of the Mojave Desert “no build zones” for solar power plants. (I’ve covered the story here and in OnEarth magazine.)

Parabolic trough system in desert

The Times editorial began:

“From an aesthetic perspective, vast solar arrays stretching for thousands of acres across the desert aren’t pretty. But what they do for the environment and for U.S. energy independence can be downright beautiful. Which is why, though we’d be happy to see about 1.5 million acres of the Mojave Desert preserved under a bill by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, it’s disappointing that the California Democrat didn’t include more meaningful support for renewable energy.”

I have a question for the Times editorial writer:

Why begin the editorial with aesthetics?

That’s not Feinstein’s emphasis, at least not in the bill summary, the official statement released by her office, or in the bill itself.

Energy, Conservation & the Media

Could it have something to do with the incestuous amplification of the news media? After all, in the New York Times, the article about Feinstein’s bill was given the headline, Desert Vistas vs. Solar Power.

Feinstein stresses conservation as her primary motivation in drafting the bill, and while the “viewscape” is a component of conservation, it’s hardly the most important one. Most conservationists probably consider habit or ecology as the primary value they want to conserve.

Who doesn’t enjoy a beautiful view? But to frame the debate in those terms is to trivialize both the Feinstein bill, and, more important, a topic that is complex — and crucial to our time.

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One thought on “LA Times’ View | Solar in the Desert

  1. I found it odd, too, that they lamented that Feinstein’s bill had not set aside land specifically for solar without even acknowledging the joint DOE/BLM process currently underway to do just that.

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