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OPINION | EDITORIAL: Battle Born, all right

Could be battle scarred, too June 9, 2021 at 3:30 a.m.

Dispatches from exotic climes--like the state of Nevada--are interesting enough when they come in over the wire. But when TV stations report the news from the desert southwest, it's fascinating to some of us. In a state as green as Arkansas, it can be a lesson in art composition to see all the different shades of brown from Nevada. And shades of orange, red and yellow. What a beauty. What a country.

There is a growing buzz coming from southern Nevada's Moapa Valley having to do with a solar project out yonder. The project would be the state's largest solar effort . . . if it is built.

The project is called the Battle Born Solar Project, and not everybody is happy with a 14-square-mile group of solar panels on the mesa. Battle Born is supposed to cover 9,000 acres with panels, batteries, buildings--and the roads to get to them. The effort comes after voters in Nevada passed a mandate that the state get half its energy from renewables in the next decade.

NIMBY applies, however. Many folks would rather have their hiking paths, ATV roads and camper spaces. Not to mention the sunsets and sunrises that are so photogenic now, before the panels are placed.

Channel 8 out of Las Vegas quoted a woman saying: "I'm not against the renewable energy. I'm just against losing this beauty." And, in the valley, she is not alone. Far from it.

The company behind the project has gently pushed back, assuring folks that the panels would be out of sight of most people. But the press has found that not everybody just goes along with environmental projects because the word "environmental" is in there somewhere.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the Battle Born Project could potentially produce 1/10th of Nevada's energy needs. But it also quoted a resident of the area (who has solar panels on top of her house) as saying the project "will destroy this land forever." Nevada Public Radio has reported on a new group there, calling itself Save Our Mesa, which has come down squarely against the project.

Certainly there is a middle ground that can be found and--considering the price so far, and the requirements by Nevada's voters--there is ample incentive to find it. But this goes to show that people can find disadvantages to renewable plants when such projects show up in their backyards. It reminds us of all the people who live along the northeastern or western coasts, who will protest any effort to put wind farms within sight--or even within boating distance--of their beaches.

The Biden administration's shift to more renewable energy is well-intentioned. But if the country is going to put up millions of solar panels and wind farms, where are they going to go? If a sparsely populated, hot, sun-filled valley in Nevada brings out the protesters, what's going to happen when solar panels start going up around Niagara Falls? Or Hot Springs? Or any place considered a traditional beauty?

The same week we learn about Battle Born, the papers came out with this story: The Joe Biden administration has taken steps to restore penalties for accidentally killing migratory birds. For the record, wind turbines are estimated to kill hundreds of thousands of them each year.

The Journal reports that the 1918 Migratory Bird Treaty Act holds criminal penalties for accidental killings of more than 1,000 species. But the "Interior Department under Donald Trump took steps to remove those penalties." The Biden administration is taking steps to reinstate them.

There is nothing wrong in wanting everything--especially when it comes to the environment. Some of us would like to have more renewable energy, more ducks, better views, cleaner air, and pristine beaches and deserts. But getting everything is rare.

Mankind is going to have to make some compromises. Even among our friends in the Green movement.

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