Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Solar Projects Tripped Up By Environmental Litigation

One of the things that hampers many alternative energy installations comes from environmental lawsuits.  These lawsuits often don't completely stop an alternative energy plant from being installed, but it does end up extending the amount of time it takes to start and complete construction.

This is a problem because many of these projects require large amounts of external funding, and it is hard to go to investors and say you need a large sack of money when you have cumbersome lawsuits on the horizon.

Recently, a Native American group has decided to hold up a number of solar energy projects in California with claims that the full impact of these projects have not been taken into consideration.  Legally, this is a strong argument because NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) has been constructed so that any large projects that may impact the environment must complete an EIS (Environmental Impact Statement).

If these solar projects haven't properly filled out an EIS, then the Native American group has a legally valid point.  However, I still believe that this is a petty claim even if some extraneous environmental impacts have been overlooked.  This is because when you ultimately compare the environmental impact that these solar installations make compared to a coal-fired plant, solar is infinitely cleaner.

I have a high respect for NEPA and everything that it stands to protect, but when it comes to these installations, I feel that filing these lawsuits is just cripiling America's opportunity to move into a cleaner future.

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