Wall Street Journal: The Sun King
Washington, Sep 12, 2008 - Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, a California Republican, thinks he has a partial solution to America's dependence on high-priced foreign oil. But he says liberals and environmentalists are rejecting it.
Mr. Rohrabacher -- who notes 130 pending applications for solar power projects on federal land administered by the Bureau of Land Management -- has introduced a bill to allow the building of such plants without environmental-impact studies. He tells me that though the BLM has lifted a moratorium on new solar projects on public land that it imposed in 2005, applications are still being clogged up in a bureaucratic pipeline and no new permits have been issued to date. "We need solutions on many levels, and freeing up solar power bottlenecks is one of them," he says.
Debbie Cook, Democratic mayor of Huntington Beach and Mr. Rohrabacher's opponent in this fall's election, opposes his bill as an "extreme position." Environmental groups also oppose it, saying large swaths of vegetation could be disrupted because a sizeable solar power facility requires up to two square miles of land. "If not properly scrutinized, the solar plants have the potential to destroy wildlife habitat, affect water resources, limit outdoor recreation opportunities and prove to be eyesores," is how the Daily Pilot, a local newspaper in Mr. Rohrabacher's Orange County district, summarized the objections of local environmentalists.
Mr. Rohrabacher is amused by the controversy. "Once again the environmental community has demonstrated that they care more about animals than about people," he told me. "I rest my case."
-- John Fund, Political Diary
The Wall Street Journal.