What to expect from Senator Franken (Hint: it’s not jokes)

Senator-Elect Al Franken and Al Gore

Senator-Elect Al Franken and Al Gore

Photo by Al Franken for Senate

Two hundred and thirty-nine days after Minnesota voters went to the polls to elect a US Senator, the state’s Supreme Court ruled that Al Franken (D) is the winner. For Democrats the victory is crucial. Franken becomes the 60th Democratic member of the Senate — the number needed to prevent filibusters.

Partisanship aside (if such a thing is possible), what does Franken’s victory mean for environmentalists, specifically for supporters of solar power?

The answer: a lot, for two reasons.

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Solar in the Desert: Can we get it right this time?

Solarone Power Plant

Solarone Power Plant

It’s partly the florid language that makes me and some other Westerners uneasy.

Arizona, the New Frontier! Armed with an abundance of sunlight, Arizona is the land of sunshine and opportunity.

That palaver could have been lifted from a 19th Century swindler’s sheet, written to separate greenhorns from their golden coins. But, in fact, I just cut-and-pasted it from the Bureau of Land Management’s current website. The BLM controls vast areas of the West, (68% of Nevada, 40% of Utah, 17% of Arizona) and is pitching the opportunities for “solar development companies, or ‘prospectors‘” in the old New Frontier of the American Southwest.

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Almost there| SB 1403, solar jobs bill, clears Arizona House

Solar power SB 1403 Arizona90px-CC_some_rights_reserved.svg

By a margin of 39-12, the Arizona House of Representatives passed SB 1403 on Friday, June 26th, putting the solar jobs bill just one step away from becoming law.

Although the Arizona legislation has received national attention, final passage in the House was overshadowed by the debate — and eventual victory in the US House of Representatives — of the Waxman-Markey climate bill on the same day. The American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 (HB 2454) squeaked by on a vote of 219-212.

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