Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Inventing a controversy: enviros vs enviros

In A clash of environmental ideals in the Mojave Desert, the LA Times carries on the grand tradition of defusing opposition to industrial development by ignoring the facts and inventing fanciful stories about inter-environmental squabbles.

Whether it's a private for-profit solar energy project proposed for public lands home to an endangered tortoise, or a paved bicycle road proposed to be built by a city government on a greenbelt home to an endangered and threatened plant species, newspaper and magazine writers and their editors take great delight in framing the story, in suitably lurid headlines, as "Environmentalists against Environmentalists."

The LA Times story is about a private corporation seeking to build a mega solar project on BLM land (of course) and whining about requirements from the federal agency to ensure the survival of the desert tortoise. The corporation is depicted as the offended party kept from pursuing this worthwhile environmental project by an overzealous government bureaucracy.

In Santa Cruz, California, the Santa Cruz City government seeks to build a paved bike road across a public greenbelt, the home of the endangered Santa Cruz tarplant, at the behest of bicyclists seeking a short cut across town, claiming that the 1/4 mile of segregated trail will "get motorists out of their cars and onto bicycles."

Development is development, regardless of the environmental merit of the project. Endangered species have no appreciation of the "environmentally friendly" project that drives them extinct.

If developers, and the newspapers who support them and benefit from them, want to build environmental projects, let them buy private land harboring no sensitive species and build their projects there. If it can't be done profitably, perhaps it's not such a worthwhile project after all.

There's more to life than piling up money.

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