When the BLM rounded up Clevan Bundy’s cattle in the “Battle of Bunkerville” in Clark County, they damaged or destroyed several desert tortoise borrows. The endangered desert tortoise was the ostensible reason why Bundy’s cattle were to be seized.
Washoe County is desperately trying conservation strategies to avoid having the Desert Sage Grouse listed on the endangered species list.
Nevada’s Western Energy Portfolio mandates that the state produce 25 percent of its energy by 2025 from renewable sources. Most of the controversy over the mandates has been economic, featuring dueling studies over the economic impacts of renewable energy. Economic impact studies are important, but they are not the stuff that causes folks to storm the barricades. The emotional opposition to large-scale renewable energy is coming not just from libertarians and conservatives, but from other environmentalists, and from local communities impacted by the energy development.
When even green liberals like former Sen. John Kerry block wind farms near wealthy communities, big solar and wind projects are built in wilderness. Wilderness is destroyed as access roads have to be built, damaging the soil and habitat. The land is fenced off and contoured. This can introduce invasive vegetative species deadly to native plants and animals. Large power lines then have to be strung to get the energy out. Facilities must be built for battery energy storage. Construction and maintenance crews need continual access. Solar panels can be damaged and must be replaced. Wind power has proven to require more maintenance than expected, as the enormous turbines frequently shear off under the wind pressure or lightening strikes. Electrical fires have occurred as well, causing more damage to wildlife habitat.
This is not counting the environmental damage done during construction of the devices. Solar energy panels require toxic chemicals, and are produced in China, a developing country with far fewer environmental safeguards than the U.S. Green mandates seldom factor these externalities into their cost-benefit analyses.
Once built, large industrial wind and solar farms have proven deadly to animal populations. Wind turbines have been called the Cuisinarts of the sky as their rotating blades are invisible to birds, bats and insects. Raptors whose eyes focus on prey on the desert or forest floors simply do not see the blades until it is too late. Bats are blind to begin with and their built in sonar can’t save them. The government issues waivers to the large green energy corporations allowing the slaughter that angers nature environmentalists. When the wild flying predators are killed off, rodent and insect populations flourish, unbalancing nature.
Although the effects of wind turbines has been widely publicized, few are aware that the heat generated by solar panel arrays is also deadly to birds and other animals. Birds that fly too close to the solar heat flux reaching 1,000 degrees literally burn up like shooting stars and are nicknamed “streamers.” The desert tortoise, which digs its burrows to escape the heat, is adversely affected by the rising temperature of the desert floor around solar panels.
Libertarians oppose government planning to produce specific goals because central planning uses the force of the state rather than voluntary cooperation. Most mainstream historians speak glowingly of the transcontinental railroad claiming it jump started the 19th century national economy. They consider the slaughter of the buffalo herds and Native Americans merely collateral damage. The new transcontinental railroad is the green energy rush. Like all government subsidized development, it brings unintended consequences to humans, animals and the environment. It is government power, not free market power, which is the worst violator of the environment.