NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


April 11, 2007

Highlighting the environmental pitfalls of harnessing "green" energy, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's push to import nonpolluting power could require building power lines and transmission towers through a national forest, two desert wildlife preserves and a rustic hamlet, says the Los Angeles Times.

As part of the mayor's plan to make Los Angeles "the greenest city and cleanest city in America":

  • He wants to build an 85-mile-long "Green Path" energy corridor designed to bring solar, geothermal and nuclear power from southeastern California and Arizona.
  • The mayor is also pushing aggressively for 20 percent of the city's power to be renewable by 2010.
  • In addition, officials have chosen not to renew a contract with a Utah coal plant that provides more than 40 percent of the city's power; that pact will expire in 2023.

Many preservation and community groups have condemned the mayor for a plan that they say would destroy priceless vistas, natural areas and wildlife corridors. Justin Augustine of the Center for Biological Diversity recently wrote Villaraigosa a letter saying that not only was such energy consumption not 'green,' but unacceptable under any name. The ends cannot justify the means, he said.

Further, the anger over the proposed route underscores challenges nationwide over how to ship wind, sun and steam power from remote rural reaches to booming urban centers.

"People do not like the way power lines look," said George Douglas, spokesman for the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. The chances it's going to happen are zero, because nobody's going to build the transmission lines. They're great big things that cost a lot of money, and people don't like them. They are unsightly -- there's no two ways about it -- and when you build them, they definitely disturb the land."

Source: Janet Wilson, California 'Green' project makes critics see red," Los Angeles Times, April 9, 2007.


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