The energy industrialization of the Mojave is an environmental justice issue.
The crunch is on. After ignoring the need to develop renewable energy for decades, we’re scrambling to find alternatives to fossil fuels. Everybody’s affected, but not everybody is being asked to pay the same price:
“The Morongo Basin Conservation Association strongly supports the pursuit of alternative energy sources. However, we recognize that the Mojave Desert has the potential to become a sacrifice area in this pursuit, and to avoid exploitation the Morongo Basin Conservation Association advocates that desert citizens and organizations must be represented in the development of alternative energy planning for the desert areas, including energy corridors.”
This statement was adopted by MBCA in November 2007 in the face of a rash of proposals to exploit the desert areas for energy programs, including the Green Path North transmission corridor and scores of solar industrial projects throughout the Mojave. The potential for the greater desert area to be sacrificed in a panicked reaction to rising energy prices after decades of poor planning and negligence is very real.
None of these projects originated in the Mojave, and none have consulted with the people of the Mojave in their planning and development stages. Further, none of them have demonstrated that they will benefit the desert areas; the energy is for delivery elsewhere. And, finally, they all will have potentially devastating impacts on desert lands, vegetation, wildlife, and communities.
At the same time, Southern California is full of rooftops that could be providing for our solar needs, and yet there is no comparable push for supporting such decentralized solutions.
Energy is an issue that affects everyone, including the residents of the Morongo Basin. How do we find our way to a new era of energy use, development, and conservation that will be sustainable, realistic, and fair to everyone? The answers are still unclear, but what IS clear is that the citizens and beings of the Mojave must be fully represented in the search for solutions, if those solutions would be made on our backs.
Watch this space as MBCA develops its energy program and policy, and for the latest updates tune in regularly to the Energy posts on the frequently updated MBCA blog. We invite your participation please join us, and add your voice, experience, and energy at a critical moment.