Nevada Democratic U.S. Sen. Jacky Rosen recently announced she is co-sponsoring a piece of legislation titled the Public Land Renewable Energy Development Act of 2019, which is touted as bipartisan legislation to promote the development of renewable energy on public lands — which is the vast majority of the land in Nevada.
“Nevada’s public lands are a source of pride and natural beauty in our state, but they also represent a potential home for clean, renewable power that will benefit Nevada and our country,” the senator is quoted in a press release put out by her office. “At a time when we’re facing the real, dangerous effects of climate change, we must find policy solutions to embrace clean energy alternatives to curb harmful carbon emissions. This bipartisan legislation would help to identify and advance additional renewable energy projects in wind, solar, and geothermal on federal lands, which make up nearly 80 percent of our state. I will continue to support forward-thinking policies that put us on a pathway towards a clean energy future.”
The bill would create another federal bureaucracy called the Renewable Energy Coordination Office, which would be tasked with streamlining the permitting of renewable energy development. The bill would set aside a small portion of the leasing revenue for state and local governments.
The trouble with renewable energy generating facilities — especially wind and solar — is that they are not cheap, are not really all that clean and constitute an incredible eyesore on the pristine landscape — witness the massive wind farm near Ely, the photovoltaic solar panels near Boulder City and the thermal solar mirror installations near Ivanpah and Tonopah.
“Not withstanding the romantic view of wind and solar power held by many, they are not cost-competitive, they are very far from clean, and they would do remarkably little to limit greenhouse-gas emissions and anthropogenic climate change, the ‘crisis view of which is unsupported by the evidence,” writes Benjamin Zycher of the American Enterprise Institute in an October edition of the National Review. “Several available analyses show that a major expansion of wind and solar power would increase the emissions of such conventional pollutants as carbon monoxide.”
Zycher cites Institute for Energy Research estimates that wind power is about twice as expensive as conventional gas-fired power and that solar power is almost three times as expensive. Those costs are passed on to the residential and business power customers or the taxpayers via subsidies. “The ubiquitous claims that wind and solar power now are cost-competitive ignore substantial costs for backup power and much longer transmission lines, and the effects of massive subsidies and guaranteed market shares,” Zycher explains.
And they gobble land. Zycher says that to achieve the renewable energy goals of the Green New Deal would require a land mass 15 percent larger than the entire state of California.
As for preventing global warming, the author says the renewable energy goals of the Green New Deal, even under highly favorable assumptions, would reduce temperatures by the year 2100 by about 0.173 degrees Celsius. He also notes that research suggests that of the 1.5 degree Celsius increase in temperatures since 1850 that mankind is responsible for only about half a degree.
Never mind the number of migratory birds killed every year by wind and solar power plants.
Meanwhile, Mark Mills, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, writing in The Wall Street Journal, points out that one wind turbine requires 900 tons of steel, 2,500 tons of concrete and 45 tons of nonrecyclable plastic, while solar power requires even more cement, steel, glass and other metals, which require massive earth moving by fossil-fuel powered heavy equipment.
Is this really what we should be doing with our public lands?
A version of this editorial appeared this week in some of the Battle Born Media newspapers — The Ely Times, the Mesquite Local News, the Mineral County Independent-News, the Eureka Sentinel, Sparks Tribune and the Lincoln County Record.