This being the 4th of July, we would like to bring you a story about the power of the people (and possibly their elected representatives) in a democracy. You may remember a story we did a few days ago about the gov'ment, specifically the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), putting the big freeze on solar power projects on land it controls in six Western states until a programmatic environmental impact statement (PEIS) was completed. We told you they wanted input from the public and apparently they got an earful and because of the "concerns expressed", they have announced a sudden reversal of the moratorium policy.

In researching this story we learned it wasn't just outraged citizenry that took action on the issue. According to KVBC in Las Vegas, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, who had just attended the opening of a solar manufacturing plant in that city, had vowed to have the moratorium reversed this year upon hearing about it. Other reports have the senator saying it was wrong, "especially when you consider that, as we speak, tens of millions of acres are leased to oil companies for drilling."

So now that we're back to "game on" is everybody happy? Not quite. A politician in San Bernardino County, 1st District Supervisor Brad Mitzelfelt, has announced his displeasure (PDF). In a news release he stated, "At a time when we are trying to protect habitat, provide for recreation, maintain the expansive beauty of the desert while providing for responsible growth, not to mention the expansion of desert military bases, we cannot afford to surrender vast areas of public land to solar energy projects." We don't know the local politics of this district where 50 applications for solar installations have already been filed with the local BLM office, but think it interesting to note that commentors of an article discussing Mitzelfelt's position were under the impression that he didn't have as much concern for halting housing developments on desert land that were erected by a company they claimed was a campaign contributor to the politician. As always, we wonder what our own commentors have to make of all this.

[Source: UPI / Daily Press]

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