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Plain talk about deserts

February 20, 2009

Re "Desert unplugged," Opinion, Feb. 15

When desert residents object to paving over pristine desert with utility-scale energy projects, we're called NIMBYs. Perhaps now that professor Bruce M. Pavlik has made urban residents aware of the ecological costs of destroying desert wilderness for energy projects, they will recognize the need to become part of the solution.

L.A.'s Department of Water and Power is planning to exploit cheap public lands for its proposed Green Path North transmission lines, a project that would destroy sensitive desert lands. The project is all about proprietary interests, not the goal of addressing climate change. It ignores the availability of an existing transmission corridor as well as solutions based on conservation and point-of-use generation.

It is time L.A. residents recognize that such projects as Green Path North are green in name only; they should tell their mayor to abandon plans for an unnecessary new energy corridor through the California desert.

Donna Thomas

Morongo Valley

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Pavlik cannot imagine what manna his informed and sensitive words are to countless desert dwellers and desert lovers, human and otherwise. The degree of disconnect from our life-source Earth in this culture, at this time, is beyond belief.

Constance Walsh

Pioneertown, Calif.

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The Op-Ed article about the danger of damaging desert ecosystems was accurate, passionate and dangerous. Solar thermal power plants in the Mojave require about five acres per megawatt of power. We will need to build about 30,000 megawatts in the next 10 years if we are to have a chance to replace coal. This means 150,000 of acres of desert that will be clear-cut, often with wells using local groundwater. There may even be local carbon consequences.

Sounds bad, right? How about the main competition, Desert Rock on the Navajo Reservation, a planned 1,500-megawatt coal power plant? It will produce roughly 12 million tons of carbon dioxide a year, not to mention vast amounts of mercury and other toxins.

If solar is not implemented on a major scale, we will have to build more coal plants. Solar power plants are a critical step to move this country away from fossil fuels and runaway climate change. The local environmental consequences exist but are minuscule in the larger scheme of things.

Michael Roddy

Yucca Valley

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