Local environmentalists aggressively embraced Question 6 in the recent election, which would mandate that Nevada generate 50 percent of its energy portfolio from green sources by 2030. It passed with 59 percent of the vote. If voters again give the measure a thumbs-up in 2020, it will be enshrined in the state constitution.
Complying with this market distortion will entail forcing consumers to buy more expensive, subsidized power. It will also require energy producers to increase investments in wind and solar plants across the state’s vast open landscapes. But that might be easier conceived than actually accomplished — thanks, ironically, to the same progressive activists who advocated for Question 6.
Last week, the Bureau of Land Management, under pressure from green groups, put the kibosh on a plan for a large wind farm on public lands west of Searchlight near the Nevada-California border. The concept included 200 massive turbines — each stretching 400 feet tall — to harness wind energy and provide electricity to 125,000 homes.
But federal officials decided not to permit the endeavor, saying in a written statement that there were “multiple issues and concerns,” including the aesthetics of the turbines dotting the desert. “We’re just ecstatic,” said Kevin Emmerich, co-founder of Basin and Range Watch, a Nevada environmental group.
The Review-Journal’s Henry Brean reports Basin and Range Watch was one of “more than a dozen conservation groups” to oppose the Crescent Peak Wind Energy Project. Among the concerns: the potential for dead birds and obstructed views.
Of course, dead birds and a large, intrusive footprint are byproducts of most solar and wind energy projects, regardless of where they’re located. Every form of energy involves trade-offs. But if Nevada is to ramp up its production of green energy, these types of plants will have to be built somewhere on the state’s vast tracts of federal land.
There might indeed be legitimate concerns that the Searchlight site was more sensitive than various alternatives. But this outcome reflects a pattern that has become more common across the country of late involving green activists teaming with NIMBY locals to kill clean energy projects, particularly wind and solar plants, over siting concerns.
It’s hard not to draw the conclusion that, in some green circles, opposition to any and all energy development and economic growth is the real agenda, not simply facilitating a transition away from fossil fuels.