Green Energy’s Threat to the Desert West

Image by Antonio Garcia.

There is a lot of hot air blowing around the desert west these days, blustery claims that geothermal, wind, massive solar installations, nuclear power, along with a smattering of hydroelectric dams, will help the world achieve a much-needed reduction in climate-altering emissions. Certainly, there is money to be made off of this massive energy transition, and on paper, a few do appear to be far less damaging than coal-fired power plants and natural gas operations.

That’s if, of course, you ignore the toll these energy ventures have on the lands and people they exploit. Right now, not far from where I live in Southern California, solar companies are gobbling up public and private lands for future solar and wind projects. Across the border in Nevada, even more desert is set to be developed in the name of fighting climate change. In the rich and biodiverse Dixie Valley, located in the middle of sacred Shoshone and Paiute lands, a massive geothermal project called the Dixie Meadows Geothermal Development Project, is in the works. Geothermal, like hydroelectric dams, is often cited as a renewable energy source, since the technology harnesses heat from the earth to produce electricity, which in theory, is endless.

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JOSHUA FRANK is the managing editor of CounterPunch. He is the author of the forthcoming book, Atomic Days: The Untold Story of the Most Toxic Place in America, published by Haymarket Books. He can be reached at joshua@counterpunch.org. You can troll him on Twitter @joshua__frank.

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