Forecast for Solar: Cloudy

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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.”

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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THE BIG PICTURE

You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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