Citing environmental concerns, US freezes new solar plant construction
The New York Times reports that the Bureau of Land Management has placed a two-year moratorium on new solar projects on public land, saying that it needs to study their environmental impact.
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The Economist notes that the solar industry is now facing a double-whammy, thanks to Congress's failure to renew a solar tax-credit:Skip to next paragraph
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Congress has been dithering over extending a valuable investment tax credit for solar-energy projects, which solar advocates say is critical to the future of their industry but which is due to expire at the end of the year. The latest attempt failed in the Senate earlier this month: prospects for a deal before November’s presidential and congressional elections now look dim. Uncertainty has led some investors to delay or abandon projects in the past few months. Rhone Resch, the president of the Solar Energy Industries Association, said if the tax credits are allowed to expire at the end of the year, “it will result in the loss of billions of dollars in new investments in solar.”
Some environmentalists support the moratorium. Both the Times and the Economist note that one spokesman for The Wilderness Society, which focuses on conserving federally administered land, has praised the decision.
But others have said that it stalls the development of an important alternative energy just when it is needed most. In a statement (hat tip to Climate Progress), Nevada Sen. Harry Reid (D) slammed the decision:
This notice of intent is the wrong signal to send to solar power developers, and to Nevadans and Westerners who need and want clean, affordable sun-powered electricity soon. While the BLM's proposed delay won't affect developers with existing applications, it could discourage or slow new development to a crawl.
Update: Following public outcry, the moratorium has been called off.