green energy development It faces growing popular opposition nationwide due to concerns about the impact of the projects on the environment and local communities.
In recent years, proponents have pushed hard for clean energy alternatives as part of their alternatives Broader goal to reach net zero emissions and the transition away from fossil fuel energy in the United States and beyond. But wind turbines, solar farms, hydropower projects, and critical mineral production — all key parts of the clean energy drive — have all met resistance in the form of environmental lawsuits, legal petitions and domestic moves.
Soon after taking office, President Biden Declare a noble goal Achieve a 50% emissions reduction by 2030 and create a carbon-neutral electric grid by 2035. Only 18% of US electricity generation came from wind, solar, and hydro in 2021. Another 2% came from other renewable sources.
“Across the country, we’re facing permitting and social acceptance challenges with a lot of these technologies,” Rich Powell, CEO of clean energy advocacy group ClearPath, told Fox News Digital in an interview.
“We have given people a lot of ways to stop things in this country,” he continued. “So, given that this is the situation that people are going to have to build in, I think we just have to be really realistic about what can be built.”
In July, ClearPath released a report stating that Highlight the growing opposition for wind power in Iowa, which has the largest wind production of any state. About half of Iowa’s potential wind energy development areas have been excluded for future projects as a result of the counties’ moratoriums.
Wind opposition in Iowa represents the issues facing wind development across the country where up to 17 times more wind energy needs to be deployed to meet US net emissions targets.
said Lewis Grove, director of wind and energy for the American Bird Conservancy, a national wild bird conservation group.
“Wind turbines — they’re big and they’re moving and they’re obviously flying in the sky,” he told Fox News Digital. “Collision with birds is a real concern.”
The American Bird Conservancy, which expects there will be 1.4 million annual deaths from turbines by 2030, has filed several lawsuits opposing wind projects and called for stricter laws to locate wind power developers. Grove said that while the group was committed to promoting climate change solutions, it would continue to use litigation as a last resort in cases where wind projects represent a significant threat to native bird species.
Similarly, the local fishing industry and wildlife groups have filed multiple lawsuits against offshore wind development. In August 2021, a group of “environmental citizens” sued the wind development off the coast of New England over concerns it would reduce endangered whale species, and fishing groups filed their own lawsuits to oppose projects in Massachusetts and New York.
“Offshore wind is by far the most expensive way to get zero-emissions electricity, and probably the most environmentally damaging way to do it,” says Dave Stephenson, director of the Center for Free Market Energy Competitiveness in Delaware, Cesar Rodney. institute. “It’s just the worst option we can make.”
Stevenson submitted comments to the Department of the Interior last month opposing the proposal for an offshore wind power project in Maryland. He said more than 1,400 individuals have contacted the Kaiser Rodney Institute with concerns about the turbines’ impacts on the environment and local industry.
Major industrial solar projects, such as offshore and onshore wind energy development, have also seen an uptick in the local downturn.
In 2019, Washington, DC-based political strategist Susan Ralston founded Citizens for Responsible Solar, a group dedicated to providing resources and information to local solar opposition efforts. The group started after successfully defeating an effort in her hometown of Culpeper, Virginia, blocking the construction of a proposed 1,600-acre solar park.
“We raised money, we did a traditional grassroots campaign, we did polls, we did banners and flyers, we attended events, we petitioned, we videotaped, and we got people really active in going to meetings to talk with the special planning committee,” Ralston told Fox News Digital. coffee beans”. in an interview.
Ralston said she was excited to start the group because many rural communities across the country are unprepared when a major energy developer proposes a solar project in their county. The companies will also reach out to the local government with promises, she said, but they achieve nothing with putting farmland out of production and destroying the environment in the process.
“How do they stand a chance against a major national utility or energy company entering and trying to buy their land? It’s very difficult,” she said.
“There are a lot of examples where they take productive farmland out of agricultural production and then disguise themselves in these projects,” Ralston said. “Not only is it no longer available to grow crops, but now you are putting the environment at risk from rainwater erosion as you cut down trees. If your goal is to help reduce carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, cutting down trees is not green.”
In general, nearly 60 local municipalities nationwide have proposed Stop the development of new solar energy since last year, according to a NBC News report. The Solar Energy Industries Association, the country’s largest solar energy interest group, has highlighted these limitations as an impediment to the industry’s future growth.
Grassroots efforts have crystallized against hydroelectric dams and lithium mining in the West.
“Hydroelectricity is a green energy hoax,” Gary Walkner, executive director of Save the Colorado, told Fox News Digital. “It is one of the dirtiest and most environmentally negative forms of energy that we can use to generate electricity.”
Save the Colorado was formed in 2015 to advocate for the protection and restoration of the Colorado River. As part of the group’s work, it often opposes hydroelectric dams, which it says have negative impacts on waterways and wildlife and have significant carbon footprints.
In March, Save the Colorado organized a coalition of more than 130 environmental groups including Earthjustice, the Center for Biodiversity and the Sierra Club, to sign a legal petition urging the EPA to be more transparent about the environment and emissions of hydropower projects. .
“There are all kinds of negative impacts on the rivers, the fish, the habitat and the forests along the rivers,” Walkner added. “The science about this has become increasingly well known in the last 20 years, and especially the last 10 years, where reservoirs, especially hydroelectricity, can lead to significant emissions of greenhouse gases. They can be as dirty in some cases as coal-fired gases. . Power plant.”
In addition, Nevada, Minnesota, Alaska, and other mineral-rich states have seen increasingly prominent battles over critical mineral production.
Metals such as lithium, cobalt, copper, and nickel are vital to both clean energy and defense technologies, but are largely mined and refined overseas. Lithium mining in particular has received increased attention recently due to its importance in the production of electric vehicle batteries.
“The only green thing about this project is the money the company wants to make,” said Max Wilbert, co-founder of Protect Thacker Pass, a group that opposes a proposed mega-mine of lithium in Nevada.
“Billions of dollars are at risk here in this mine,” he added. “And on a larger scale, with the energy transition in general, we’re talking about trillions of dollars. This is a very powerful force.”
Lithium Americas proposed on-site lithium mining years ago, but has yet to produce anything due to opposition from environmentalists like Wilbert and ongoing lawsuits challenging the federal government’s approval of the permits.
Wilbert criticized the environmental movement for what he said was the false promise that the United States could maintain its level of energy use with carbon-neutral alternatives.
“If we want our children to have a future, we need to change course,” he told Fox News Digital. Thacker Pass lithium mine represents this bright green lie that we can have this high energy, high consumption society and have a sustainable world at the same time.”
“this is not true.”