Forecast for Solar: Cloudy

| Tue Jul. 1, 2008 6:06 PM EDT

Solar_energy_power_266094_l.jpgNow that the Bureau of Land Management is deferring solar projects on public land, the forecast for solar energy seems a bit cloudy. What happened?

Just over a year ago, the BLM was actively encouraging solar projects to be shuttled through in a "timely manner." Then it teamed up with the Department of Energy "to assess the environmental, social, and economic impacts associated with solar energy development."

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So what are the potentially negative environmental impacts of solar installations?

For starters, the BLM has identified these three: energy use and accompanying emissions required for manufacturing plants, hazardous materials used in production, and land use disrupting natural habitats and wildlife. But solar tends to come out favorably when pitted against building, say, another coal plant.

And with all this talk of a recession, why is the BLM trying to stunt an industry that's creating thousands of new jobs across the country? The 2006-2007 solar installation boom generated 6,000 new jobs and injected $2 billion into the U.S. economy.

The BLM flip-flopping wouldn't have anything to do with an administration hand protecting traditional energy industries, would it?

—Joyce Tang

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