Thursday, September 6, 2012

Big Environment Versus Green Energy

If you read through year after year of the glossy annual reports issued by many environmental groups you learn they are supposedly in favor of green energy, especially solar and wind.
Screen capture from Defenders of Wildlife's annual report touting green energy.
But lately, things have taken an interesting turn: Big Environment suing to stop solar and wind projects -- the very epitome of "green energy" -- that these groups have said they have wanted for years.

Let's start with Kern County, California, where a major wind project was underdevelopment.

The Sierra Club (2011 revenue, $45 million, total assets $110 million), the Center for Biological Diversity (2010 revenue $8 million, assets $10 million) and Defenders of Wildlife (2010 revenue $34 million, total assets $24 million) have all sued to stop the development of a major wind energy project.
the environmental groups asked a judge to issue an injunction to stop construction of North Sky River. They argue that the BLM had violated the federal Endangered Species Act and other environmental laws by failing to adequately consider the impact of the wind farm on condors, golden eagles and other protected wildlife when it leased the project site to NextEra, the Florida-based energy developer.
“An existing wind project adjacent to the North Sky River Project site, Pine Tree Wind Farm, which is owned and operated by the Los Angeles Department of Power and Water, has one of the highest avian fatality rates in the nation,” the suit states. “The North Sky River Project will utilize more turbines than the Pine Tree facility, and the North Sky River Project site contains better riparian and foraging habitat for eagles and other avian species than the Pine Tree site. Fatality rates for the North Sky River Project are expected to equal or exceed those reported for the Pine Tree site.”
Of course, it is hardly news that wind energy kills birds. Yet, these groups -- in the abstract -- support it anyway.

One might think case this is an outlier. It is not.

Two other groups have sued to block a project in Oregon and a separate solar project in California.
Two environmental groups in April filed suit to block an energy project they said would seriously harm the local ecosystem.
It wasn't a coal plant, or an oil refinery, or a nuclear reactor. It was a wind farm -- the very sort of "clean" energy environmentalists champion as an alternative to dirty traditional supplies.
But the Portland Audubon Society and Oregon Natural Desert Association say a wind farm on Oregon's Steens Mountain, along with needed access roads and transmission lines, would threaten eagles, sage grouse and bighorn sheep and call it the "antithesis" of "responsible renewable energy development."
Also in April, an appeals court took up a lawsuit seeking to stop a 399-megawatt, 3,200-acre solar power plant in Panoche Valley, 130 miles southeast of San Francisco. Environmentalists say it will harm the endangered blunt-nosed lizard and kangaroo rat.
In addition to these, there is litigation by Big Environment to stop wind development off Martha's Vineyard and other projects
Screen capture from Earthjustice 2011 annual report
Don't worry, Big Environment is still opposing conventional energy projects such as this proposed coal-fired plant in Kansas. The litigators in this case are the Sierra Club and Earthjustice (2011 revenues $46 million, assets $41 million).

But, when it comes to "green" energy, one gets impression that these groups are insincere. They tout green energy in the abstract but, when it actually comes time to build something, they oppose it. Why? Don't know. But it is interesting that Earthjustice (motto: "Because the earth needs a good lawyer"), among others, receives millions each year in court awards. Connection? Don't know.
Screen capture from Earthjustice's 2011 report. I've highlighted their
revenue from court awards. 
Millions of dollars are spent by Big Environment to give you the impression they are taking a "bold" stand against "pollution" and, by extension, are for green energy. That hardly seems the case.
Online Sierra Club advertisement. I did the screen capture this evening. 
I suggest you ask some pointed questions before you send off your next contribution check.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent investigative reporting Mike!
    The "pointed questions" need to be asked more often in *many* areas of our human existence!
    Candace

    ReplyDelete