Nothing can divide people like an energy project in their backyard.

In Massachusetts most people are generally in favor of renewable energy. Who isn’t?

But when the best way to generate it is with large wind turbines off a coast packed with vacation goers, the plan stalls and stalls and stalls.

While the Cape Wind Project is generally a case if “not in my back yard” versus the benefit of generating 2,500 green megawatts, a renewable project in the Mojave Desert juxtaposes conservationists against massive solar projects.

The Bureau of Land Management recently released an environmental impact statement for a 250-megawatt solar power project along the Interstate-10 corridor in Southern California. The project, called the Genesis Solar Energy Project calls for two different plants, to use what is known as a “wet cooling” method to help convert the sun’s heat into steam, which can then be used to power turbines that provide electricity. 

One problem is the water. So in the Bureau of Land Management’s economic impact statement for the Genesis Solar Project, the bureau recommended what is known as a “dry-cooling” alternative. This other method could reduce the amount of water needed for the renewable project by 85 percent.

Despite the recommendation, the BLM is still the target of criticism. A group called California Unions for Reliable Energy, which has a history of speaking out on behalf of both union workers as well as the environment, isn’t pleased with the plan and neither is the Center for Biological Diversity. Criticisms of the BLM’s statement generally surround the water situation, but there are also concerns about threatened animals like the Desert Tortoise.

A recent article on MNN points out that delays in solar projects are simply becoming commonplace. Even with the combination of the Department of Interior’s “fast track” program for approval of energy projects and still-existing Bush Administration policies that call for energy approval to be done more swiftly, projects are dragging on.

Water issues are understandable. Threatened animal and plant issues are understandable. Even in the Massachusetts situation, it is easy to understand why a homeowner who paid a premium for an ocean vista would oppose a wind turbine vista.

Though these problems are understandable, they remain problems. There are no projects that won’t be opposed. Fast track or no fast track, there is always an interest to consider. These considerations take time. Environmental impact statements take time and so do the appeals, lawsuits, counter lawsuits and public comment periods.

But time will run out. Not just because the planet is approaching the end of its carbon rope, but also because the capital rope is not endless either. As projects drag on investors will drop off. Without dollars nothing gets done, the opportunities are compromised. 

Sadly, most of the interests that consistently refuse to compromise so these projects can become a reality were all at one time on the same page when it came to clean energy projects. It’s just when one of these projects shows up in someone’s or some tortoise’s’ back yard that they fall apart.

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