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Clean Power Reverend Ron Van Fleet (left) & others on a prayer run at Ivanpah – “Who Are My People?”

Published on August 22nd, 2013 | by Guest Contributor

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Is The US Department of the Interior Committing Cultural Genocide And Ecocide?



Update: Also see this (sort of) counter-story: Native American Tribe’s Push For Solar & Wind (To Replace Coal & Keep Out Natural Gas)

Originally published on San Diego Loves Green
by Roy L. Hales

While Secretary of the Interior Jewell addressed the Clean Energy Summit 6.0 in Las Vegas last week, a very different examination of America’s solar policy was happening just down the street.

If you were to go by the media says, it was the Nevada premiere of San Diego filmmaker Robert Lundahl’s documentary “Who Are My People?” Lundahl interviewed on Nevada Public radio and featured in The Las Vegas Review-Journal,Thomas Mitchell’s column, and The Ely Times. (That last article is listed in the Bureau of Land Management’s California News Bytes.) San Diego Loves Green also did a write-up, which was picked up by The Native News Network and Salem News.

Lundahl contends that, in their rush to develop supposedly “green” energy in the desert, the Department of the Interior is destroying pristine habitat, failing to consult with the tribes and violating Native American sacred sites.

These charges are not new.

Two of the Geoglyphs at Blythe – “Who Are My People?”

According to Resolution #LNK-12-036 of National Congress of American Indians, the Bureau of Land Management “has failed to conduct meaningful consultation with Tribes, particularly with CRIT (the Colorado River Indian Tribe), and has taken actions that violate federal laws which include provisions designed to protect Tribes’ sacred places and cultural resources, such as the National Historic Preservation Act, the National Environmental Policy Act, the Administrative Procedures Act, the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, and the Federal Land Policy and Management Act.”

“… these projects are destroying our cultural resources, desecrating our sacred places, impairing our abilities to practice our traditional and religious beliefs, and severing our physical and spiritual connections to lands that are fundamental to our cultural identities…”

This document mentions “over 40 proposed solar and wind renewable energy projects … within a 50-mile radius of the Colorado River Indian Reservation,” which includes the solar projects at Blythe, Ivanpah, Palen, McCoy, Rio Mesa, Genesis and Desert Harvest.

The Inter Tribal Council of Arizona also passed a resolution against the fast tracking on these projects.

The California Native American Heritage Commission came to a similar conclusion when it recognized that the Ocotoillo Wind Project, in Imperial county, was built on sacred land.

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Senator Harry Reid greets Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell at the Clean Energy Summit 6.0 in Las Vegas – Department of the Interior photo

Lundahl invited all of the speakers and workshop leaders at the Clean Energy Summit to see his film: Secretary of the Interior (Sally Jewell), Secretary of Energy (Dr. Ernest Moniz), Chairman Jon Wellinghoff of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid were there along with an array of Governors, Senators, former Senators, the CEO of the American Wind Association, the Director of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory etc.

None came. Instead, they announced a 2,000 acre solar project to be built among the Moapa Paiutes. The Las Vegas Review Journal’s front page proclaims, Paiutes’ solar project highlight of National Clean Energy Summit.”

Lundahl had another Moapa story, “In my conversations in advance of the August 13th event with Senator Reid’s office and staff, when I invited the Senator to the screening to hear the voices and opinions of Native American peoples opposing large solar and wind development, that staffer referred to the the Moapa Paiutes as content with the contract signed for on-reservation solar with K-Road Solar. Unfortunately, as I pointed out, the Senator’s office was mixing apples and oranges, since the Moapa Paiute project is on reservation land and the Obama renewable energy build-out large solar and wind projects on millions of acres of Public Land. That is why the Senator’s office holding the Moapa Paiutes up as ’Poster Children’ and ’Happy Campers,’ relative to large solar development, in general, across the West, in disingenuous and disrespectful of all Native people of the region, with whom they have failed to consult for over 3 years.”

Both Phillip Smith and Reverend Ron Van Fleet knew of Moapa Paiutes that were opposed to the solar farm. Smith had been at meetings where, on two separate occasions, a Moapa had spoken against it. Van Fleet said 4 or 5 of the Moapa came to the Las Vegas Premiere. Two were elders. The younger generation approved this project.

San Diego Loves Green interviewed a Las Vegas Paiute who came to see the film and was disturbed by “what the BLM was doing in California.” He said the Moapa did not have any sacred sites and were in favor of the solar project.

Judy Bundorf, the local activist who booked the Clark County Library for Lundahl’s film, pointed out that three of the Native American speakers – Ron Van Fleet, Alfredo Figueroa and Phillip Smith – “are a force to be reckoned with.” They are respected elders who had been “instrumental in the occupation and ultimate defeat of the proposed Ward Valley nuclear waste dump near Needles in 1998.”

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Alfredo Figueroa meeting Robert Lundahl at Blythe Airport – “Who Are My People?”

Alfredo Figueroa and Ron Van Fleet started forging the alliance of Fort Mojave, Chemehuevi, Colorado River, Quechan and Cocopah tribes in 1991.

The central issues at Ward Valley are similar to those at Ivanpah, Blythe and the other solar sites mentioned in the film. One of the Mojave elders wrote:

“They intend to transport nuclear waste through our reservation and through the town of Needles. They have never asked our permission or held a hearing on this issue. There is no provision to train our people should there be an accident, no plans to deal with the terrible dangers of a nuclear waste transport accident.

“We will be needing water to grow. There is much water beneath Ward Valley and it will eventually become contaminated. This is a terrible crime. Our poor desert tortoise never even had a chance. Both the tortoise and the land are sacred to us. We have used this land for thousands of years. We use the plants there to heal ourselves and renew ourselves. Now it will all be destroyed. It’s wrong all the way around.”

The climax came during an 118 day occupation of the proposed site. Preston Arrow-Weed, from Fort Yuma, was visiting his niece, when they saw all the people in Ward Valley. When he drove over to see what was happening, some of the Mojave recognized him.

“This man is a lightening singer,” they said.

One of Arrow-weed’s best memories of the occupation was taking his high school students on a 200 mile run from Fort Yuma to Ward Valley. They ran 50 miles every day and then held a ceremony with singing and dancing. Some of them had to turn back at Parker, because they were involved in sports, but the rest continued on to join the demonstrators on the site. Preston believes this ceremonial run helped bring the victory at Ward valley.

Arrow-weed and his students were in the front, singing sacred songs, the night that the federal officers were supposed to arrest everyone at midnight. Figueroa says they seized upon the excuse that the protestors did not have camping permits. At one point, the authorities seized upon the fact the activists did not have a camping permit and tried to arrest them. They backed down and the struggle for Ward Valley came to an end after a judge ruled that the US did not have to give California the Federal lands at Ward Valley to be used as a Nuclear dump.

The Mojave have held a victory celebration every year since and it is no accident that two of the main speakers at the 15th anniversary were Ron Van Fleet, “Mojave tribal leader” and Alfredo Figueroa, “Chicano-Chemehuevi activist and historian.”

Figueroa has suggested that this is not the place to chronicle his participation in the United Farm Worker’s movementor how he and his family came to set up America’s first private chicano/indigenous school in 1972. His fight for social justice has continued for decades. He also wrote “Ancient footprints of the Colorado River: La Cuna de Aztlan,” which examines the history and sacred sites of his people and was explaining his findings to an assembly of 300 archaeologists at the Pecos conference at Flagstaff, Arizona, days before the premiere in Las Vegas. (You can order his book for $45 by writing Alfredo Figueroa at 424 North Carleton Ave, Blythe, CA, 92225)

He met Lundahl at Blythe’s airport, in 2010, in that segment of the film where they took an airplane to view the sacred sites in that area.

Preston Arrow-weed delivers one of the best remembered lines of the film. Asked if the solar plants were taking his culture, Preston responded, “They aren’t taking it away, they are destroying it.”Preston Arrow-weed – “Who Are My People?”

He could not make it to the Las Vegas screening because, among other things, he was involved in a mitigation attempt around Blythe. When the solar company asked what the Native Americans would like, Arrow-weed said for them to obey the law. He says the renewable energy companies are fast tracking everything and then trying to “mitigate” afterward.

He does not understand why they always seem to pick Native American sacred sites like Ocotillo, which is filled with cremation sites.

Developers are tearing up the desert soil in Imperial valley, releasing the spores that causes people to get sick with Valley fever. Imperial County’s Board of Supervisors do not like to hear about this because they are hoping these projects will create jobs – but that doesn’t really seem to be happening.

Arrow-weed and some singers held an all night vigil at Ocotillo just before the turbine blade flew off on May 16. He believes the accident occurred due to the ceremony and notes that the wind farm still isn’t working.

Reverend Ron Van Fleet makes his appearance in a clip that shows people running at Ivanpah. He said they do this often, running all day, praying for the land, the people and the animals as they go. It is their form of spiritual warfare.

Alfredo Figueroa, Phillip Smith (Black Hat) & others in front of ancient altar at Ivanpah – “Who Are My People?

His grandmother came from the Ivanpah area, before the Indians were put on reservations so that white ranchers could use their land to graze cattle. This was a sacred site, to both the Mojave and Chemehuevi and a number of ancient alters are depicted in the film. Van Fleet said there were 7 or 8 of them, dedicated to the wind, fire, flesh, corn etc.

Speaking as a Christian minister who takes God’s command to look after animals (Genesis 1:28) very seriously and a Mojave whose clan symbol is the tortoise, Van Fleet refers to the Ivanpah solar project’s impact upon the environment as genocide. Tortoises normally live to be 120 – 200 years old. They spend much of their time sleeping/dreaming, which is a sacred thing. When they moved the desert tortoises to make way for Ivanpah’s solar project around 1,300 adult males are believed to have died “and they did not count the juveniles or the eggs.” Nor did they count the foxes, rabbits, coyotes, buzzards, lizards, snakes, ants, moles, eagles, hawks and other animals. Ivanpah will never be restored to what it was.

“When I was a young man the migrating river ducks used to blot out the sun for fifteen minutes when they flew past. Now you barely notice them. The locusts are gone because of pesticides and the river is contaminated.”

”The solar panels are raising the desert’s temperature. It is 120now, but will go to 140and 150o. We won’t be able to breathe, It is going to kill plant life. The sun is already penetrating the ozone layer from the outside. These solar panels will shoot the sun’s rays into the ozone from the inside.”

Lundahl asked Reverend Van Fleet to say these things, for the benefit of the Mojave, Chemehuevi, Colorado River, Quechan and Paiutes, on the night of the Las Vegas premiere.

Alfredo Figueroa was the last speaker that evening. This is not the first battle he has fought for his people and he concluded by saying, “We are lucky to have Anglos who did so much, but it is really up to all of us to continue the struggle in protecting Mother Earth.”

“It’s history repeating itself,” Lundahl said. “The idea that liberal, environmentalist greens in a Democratic administration are committing cultural genocide and ecocide is certainly something they don’t want to hear, and so they tune out, like blind mice, but I have seen it with my camera, and with very little embellishment–what needs to be embellished, after all? It simply is the raw truth, the ugly truth of who we are, and how we operate, that to my eyes and ears is 100% unacceptable. And I personally, would be less of a human being if I kept silent.

“Like my father said following World War Two–when we kids asked, ‘Why did the Germans do this (genocide) and did not speak up?’–he responded, ‘Because it did not affect them.’ And so we all become complicit in a horrible tragedy, a nightmare of death, weakened by self-interest, greed and fear to the point where we forget the air that fills our lungs is the same. And we can not even muster the courage to be human. May God have mercy on our souls.”

(Photo at top of page: Reverend Ron Van Fleet (left) & others on a prayer run at Ivanpah – “Who Are My People?”)

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  • Bob_Wallace

    Now, let’s visit the Native American thing…

    “Lundahl contends that, in their rush to develop supposedly “green” energy in the desert, the Department of the Interior is destroying pristine habitat, failing to consult with the tribes and violating Native American sacred sites.”

    Can I simply call bullshit on this one?

    Any solar, wind or geothermal project has a requirement to go through a permitting process before work can commence. Those permitting processes are public knowledge. If Native American groups have religious issues with the site being discussed they can jump in and make their case.

    Way too much emo in this article.

    • Robert Lundahl

      Ivanpah destroyed pristine habitat, Genesis destroyed pristine habitat, Rio Mesa would have destroyed pristine habitat, Palen would potentially destroy pristine habitat, etc. The efficacy of the BLM’s consultation process, which is in disarray, as demonstrated by the fact that it has spawned several lawsuits, is documented in the public comments of each EIS and each project, as well as in federal court rulings like Quechan v. BLM (Imperial Solar). It is a matter of public record that this is not working.

      • Bob_Wallace

        Sandy Valley, the town north Ivanpah destroyed pristine habitat. As did all the other towns built in the Mojave.

        Grazing destroyed pristine habitat.

        Mining destroyed pristine habitat.

        Military bases destroyed pristine habitat.

        Off-road vehicles destroyed pristine habitat.

        The fact that you only get your bloomers in twist over renewable energy when renewable energy is badly needed in order to protect the remaining pristine habitat causes me to write you off.

  • Bob_Wallace

    OK, now let’s check out the desert tortoise…

    “The desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii) is a large herbivore and the official reptile in the states of California and Nevada. No other tortoise in North America shares the extreme conditions of habitats occupied by the desert tortoise.

    The number of desert tortoises has decreased by 90% since the 1950’s. Recent estimates indicate that there are about 100,000 individual desert tortoises existing in the Mojave and Sonoran deserts. As late as the 1950’s the desert tortoise population averaged at least 200 adults per square mile. More recent studies show the level is now between 5-60 adults per square mile.”

    Ninety-five percent of the life of a desert tortoise is spent in the ground escaping the heat in a burrow or den. During hibernation their heart rate, respiration rate, and all bodily processes are slowed down. Burrows can be easily crushed by off-highway vehicles that do not stay on established roads

    (Human introduced Sahara mustard competes with native plants for water and nutrients.)

    In some areas, mustard grows so densely that it is nearly impossible for desert tortoises to pass through. Vehicles, which do not stay on established roads and do not get washed frequently, contribute to spreading weeds.

    Poaching and driving off-highway vehicles within tortoise habitat continues to threaten tortoise populations. During the hottest part of the day, desert tortoises seek shade; and they sometimes find it under parked cars. For this reason, it is important to check under the car for desert tortoises before taking off.

    Desert tortoises are also threatened by several diseases such as the upper respiratory tract disease often found in captive tortoises. Pet owners releasing sick tortoises into the wild has resulted in diseases being spread to wild tortoises.

    Trash, such as this deflated balloon, poses a threat to desert tortoises. The balloon can be mistaken for food by desert tortoises and, once consumed, may remain in the stomachs and intestines giving them a false sense of fullness that may cause them to starve.

    Unlike adult desert tortoises, juveniles have fragile thin shells. Ravens eat tortoises by pecking at their shells and eating what is inside. Fifty years ago ravens used to be uncommon in the desert, but their population has increased 700 percent. Under natural circumstances, the ravens would not do well in the harsh desert environment, but opportunistic bird species is thriving because humans make food and water sources available, including landfills, illegal dumps, unsecured dumpsters and trash cans, man-made ponds, irrigation systems, and road kill.”

    http://www.endangeredspeciesinternational.org/deserttortoise.html

    “Threats occur under two major categories, direct and indirect, although they are not
    necessarily mutually exclusive. Direct threats are those that affect the survival or
    reproduction of tortoises (e.g., road mortality, illegal collecting, disease, predation).

    Indirect threats affect tortoise populations through their effect on other factors, primarily habitat (e.g., drought, habitat alterations from livestock grazing, recreational activities,global warming, etc.).”

    http://www.fws.gov/nevada/desert_tortoise/documents/misc/tortoise_threats_boarman_usgs_2002.pdf

    So, we’ve lost 90% of the original stock of desert tortoise due to human activity. Now we’ve protected over 90% of the 25 million acres of the California Desert Conservation Area from grazing, mining, off-road vehicles. Hopefully that will let the tortoise recover. We may have to go in and remove invasive plants, but with vehicles eliminated this will be easier to do.

    But there’s one danger to the tortoise we can’t prevent by establishing no-drive/graze regulations. That’s climate change. It won’t take much to cook the remaining vegetation into oblivion. Take away the tortoise food and there will be no recovery.

    (And, no, the tortoise can’t migrate uphill to escape the heat. There’s no sand in those rocky peaks for them to burrow into in order to escape the heat.)

    So, does it make sense to us 0.4% of the 25 million in order to keep 100% of the 25 million acres from getting hotter and dryer? I think so.

    Perhaps you’d rather sacrifice the entire 100% out of your dislike for solar….

  • Bob_Wallace

    OK, let’s see if we can put this into some perspective.

    The California Desert Conservation Area covers more than 25 million acres. Over 39,000 square miles.

    Of that 25 million acres 1.5 million acres is designated for mining, livestock grazing, recreation, energy, and utility development.

    Of those 1.5 million acres 0.5 million are used for off-road vehicle recreation.

    That leaves 1 million acres for grazing, mining, and utility development. 4% of the total.

    http://www.blm.gov/ca/st/en/fo/cdd/cdca_highlights.html

    At this time there seem to be 21 renewable energy projects either completed, being built or proposed. Checking some of them it appears that the average area is roughly 4,000 acres per project for a total of 84,000 acres.

    This is 0.4% of the CDCA. So what we have is a number of people very upset about less than one half of one percent of the desert being used for solar projects but seemingly not concerned about the 2% being used for off-road recreation. Nor concerned about the 3.7% used for grazing and mining.

    And they seem to be willing to put the entire 25 million acres in danger of disastrous climate change in order to keep solar systems off 0.4%.

  • writerink

    The tactics here attacking the messenger (Lundahl) are a smokescreen to divert attention from the powerful message of his film. There are stooges on the payroll of the oil industry (which owns many of the industrial solar and wind companies) and the energy/utility industry who are paid to disrupt with negative comments. I’ve had the same sort of attacks at my site when as an enviornmentalist I took on the negative environmental impacts of these projects that claim to be “green” but are devastating the environment senselessly, when there are other better ways to produce the same power in clean, renewable ways without this destruction. It’s all about siting.

    My degree is in Environmental Studies, I’ve never taken a penny from any energy or oil company. We’ve won 45 major journalism awards for reporting on many of the same issues Lundahl is exposing, yet I’ve had the same sorts of stupid comments posted at times. Don’t be fooled by the attack dogs posting here. Ask who their masters are.

    Also the racist remarks against Native Americans are deeply offensive. The federal government made a promise to Native people to protect sacred sites on public BLM lands. If a tribe builds a casino or whatever on its own reservation land that in no way negatives our obligation to protect these special places. A lot of good comes from tribal gaming money, too – Viejas pays for firefighter training for every fire agency in San Diego County, donates to schools, built a fire station off reservation, and more. This argument is just stupid. It’s like saying if I build on my own property, I’m giving up my right to have our national treasures like the Grand Canyon protected.

    Moreover casinos don’t get built on top of massive ancient geoglyphs – surely those are worth protecting, as anyone with a brain should be able to see.

    • BighornNV

      Guys like Bob Wallace are really attention seeking, uneducated internet arm chair experts. Sure Bob is a miserable racist. The other folks on this list have established that. Racism will always out the most pathetic individuals in society, but Bob is also kind of a tool to simply get behind any utility scale energy – fossil fuel or renewable. Bob is trying to create some kind of war between big fossil fuel developers and renewable energy developers. Bob would probably say the Genesis Solar project is a good thing, but it gave one of the world’s biggest fossil fuel developers, Nextera, a huge tax break. One solar farm is a drop in the bucket compared to all of their coal and oil plants. The Sentinel Natural Gas Plant just went on line in Desert Hot Springs, California. It has 8 150 foot tall, towers and spews out 1 million tons of C02 a year. Why was it built? To provide “peaker” power to all of the intermittent utility scale renewable energy that Bob supports, So Bob can say we all work for big fossil fuel, but Bob is so pathetic, that he can’t see that big energy developers could care less about C02 and climate change. And Bob is getting behind all of this BS and not getting one dime for it!

  • Robert Lundahl

    I’m always honored to participate in a dialog around the films I make and the issues they touch on. I’d like to thank CleanTechnica for the opportunity.

  • RobS

    Ruining green field land with solar is ridiculous. It is cheaper and easier to install solar on existing rooftops where generation is of even greater benefit because by generating at the point of use you avoid line losses. We don’t even need solar on all suitable rooftops to achieve 50% solar generation which is probably more then we need in a diverse renewable grid. The only reason for large green field solar sites is to protect the profits of utilities.

    • Bob_Wallace

      Utility scale solar is cheaper than rooftop.

      Large solar arrays are almost always (probably always) built close to existing transmission lines.

      Transmission losses are minimal.

      • RobS

        I just paid $1.83/watt for rooftop solar, link any recent utility scale project being built for anywhere near that. The difference is that I already own my rooftop, utility scale has to buy or lease large amounts of land, that is a big cost rooftop never has to deal with.

        • Bob_Wallace

          That was $1.83/watt plus subsidy, was it not? Seems like we just discussed your price.

          OK, you asked for “any recent utility scale project being built for anywhere near that”…

          The site near Leicestershire in the English Midlands is now the location of Britain’s largest solar farm. The facility is 34 megawatts in size and will prevent the emission of approximately 170,000 tonnes of CO2 over its lifespan, which is equivalent to shovelling about 58,000 tonnes of coal back into the ground.

          The solar farm cost just over one pound a watt or $54 million. That’s in either Australian or US dollars as they currently both convert into exactly the same number of British pounds. (No doubt a fun day for currency traders.) This gives a cost of $1.59 a watt and according to a report commissioned last year by the British Government’s Department of Energy and Climate Change, it is 20% less than their figure for large scale solar in 2012.

          http://cleantechnica.com/2013/05/21/uk-solar-costs-pounded-largest-solar-farm-one-pound-or-1-59-per-watt/

          A completely unsubsidized 250 MW solar energy project is currently being developed in the north-western region of Cádiz, Spain — near the town of Trebujena.

          The €275 million project will be built over a period of 2–3 years in five separate phases of 50 MW each. The first phase is expected to be connected by the end of 2015, and the final phase by the end of 2017.

          Once completed, the solar park will feature somewhere around 90,000 PV panels, which will generate about 420,000 MWh a year. That’s enough to power around 117,000 homes in the region, according to Tentusol.

          250 MW for €275 million.

          €1,1/watt.

          $1.43/watt.

          http://cleantechnica.com/2013/06/28/unsubsidized-solar-power-project-totaling-250-mw-going-up-in-spain/$1.43/watt in the sunny Southwest. Less than $0.06/kWh.

          Deutsche Bank said that although the market in Europe had contracted, at least one third of new, small to mid size projects were being developed without subsidies. Multi-megawatt projects were being built south of Rome for €90c/W. This was delivering electricity costs (LCOE – with 80 per cent self consumption) of around €80/MWh (€8c/kWh)

          http://reneweconomy.com.au/2013/deutsche-sees-solar-distributed-energy-at-major-inflection-point-10487
          €90c = $1.20

          • RobS

            They’re certainly lower numbers then most I have seen recently, hopefully they are not just outliers.
            Yes my quoted cost is with a ~55c/watt subsidy.
            However one mustn’t forget that a utility plant is competing against wholesale power prices which wher I live are about 6c/kwh whereas my rooftop system is competing against my retail utility rate of 27c/kwh so a utility plant must be 2-4 times cheaper then a rooftop system to achieve equivalent parity.

      • Roy L Hales

        I have to speak from a San Diego context:

        Myth: “Large solar arrays are almost always (probably always) built close to existing transmission lines.”

        In San Diego: The 117 miles of utility lines (the Sunrise Powerlink) stretching out into the desert are where the money is. Here is a link to the video that San Diego GAS & Electric (SDG&E) produced about their achievement making it. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cazQ7CzN-v4&feature=player_embedded#t=0

        Note the word GAS in their name. Your accusations that Lundahl could be a gas company shill sound totally idiotic. In San Diego SDG&E is the big renewable player, having contracted to carry all the energy from those industrial scale solar and wind projects, in the desert, through its transmission lines.

        Here is a link to an interview with San Diego utility engineer Bill Powers who argues:

        1. That those long power lines and inefficient & lose 7% to 14% of the electricity en route
        2. You can put the same solar panels on rooftops in the city, where the energy is needed, and not lose that energy.
        3. That you could produce more energy, cheaper, in cities.
        http://www.sandiegolovesgreen.com/bill-powers-compares-rooftop-solar-and-the-sunrise-powerlink/

        Sorry, it looks like you are going to have to copy and paste those links.

      • BighornNV

        No, many large scale solar farms need transmission upgrades, gen tie lines and new lines. Do some research!

  • Steeple

    Oh my. It appears that some green energy projects are running the same regulatory gauntlet now that the rest of industry has been complaining about for 30 years. Welcome to the party.

    • Bob_Wallace

      Renewable energy projects always have to do environmental reports before getting approval. For the most part the regulations are good things.

      The oil and coal industry complain about regulations because it keeps them from making the messes they’d love to make.

      • BighornNV

        Many of the same developers building the oil and coal plants are the ones building the renewable energy plants. Nextera, BP, Duke Energy, K-Road etc.. Are we learning yet. Bob?

  • Bob_Wallace

    Also, please document your claim of “1,000 adult tortoise (a threatened species) killed at Ivanpah.”

    What I find on the web is “This Google Earth image shows the BLM’s preferred layout of First Solar’s Stateline solar power project, covering nearly 3.4 square miles. The BLM estimates that the project could kill or displace 32 desert tortoises, although a higher estimate of 88 tortoises is also possible.”

    That’s as many as 88 killer or displaced. Displaced is not killed.

    • Shanghai Brown

      Actually, displaced is just about the same thing as killed. And I’d trust a BLM estimate of tortoise populations in these cases about as much as I’d trust their archaeological surveys. They walked one site near Blythe and somehow missed a 200′ geoglyph. I’ve been on the site – it’s impossible to miss the geoglyphs.

      • Bob_Wallace

        Oh, horseshit.

        Take your misinformation elsewhere. You exaggerators do the environmental movement zero good and major harm.

        • Robert Lundahl

          Preston Arrow-weed delivers one of the best remembered lines of the film. Asked if the solar plants were taking his culture, Preston responded, “They aren’t taking it away, they are destroying it.”

          Don’t kill the messenger, Bob. Short sighted fast tracking, massive ARRA grants and loan guarantees=Solyndra on Steroids. Is that your “environmental movement?” or are you looking to make lots of money? It’s more of a rhetorical question. Why do we have to destroy the desert to save the planet?

          I’m glad you are participating in a dialog but your argument makes no sense and your angry response betrays your concern for “the environment.”

          • Bob_Wallace

            Lying does not help the environmental movement, Robert.

            Lying provides a weapon for anti-renewable interests to use against the environmental movement.

          • Shanghai Brown

            Robert hasn’t lied about anything in the three years I’ve seen him cover these issues. If your concept of the “environmental movement” is to encourage destruction of species and habitat, waste energy, locate projects 100+ miles from the urban centers that use the energy generated, destroy Native American cultural and sacred sites, etc., then one has to wonder about what kind of environmentalist you are.

          • sault

            They can call anything “sacred” and they’re hoping for some sort of payoff to back down. Like I said, all those casinos and shopping centers got built without a problem. Do you think they all gave a hoot about “sacred” sites back then? How many “cultural” sites do you think were bulldozed over to build all those casinos and shopping malls?
            Sorry, but if we don’t build clean energy, it’s more coal, more coal mines, more fracking wells, more oil spills, etc. THAT will cause untold destruction and make climate change worse.

          • Robert Lundahl

            The issue is that there is no mitigation possible, as the Native American Heritage Commission ruled related to Ocotillo. What mitigation is possible relative to digging up cremations such as at Genesis? The only mitigation possible is “don’t dig up any more.” Your claims that casinos are built on sacred sites is simply ignorant, dismissive and yes, once again, racist. I would advise you and Bob to reel in the hubris, arrogance and the desire to personally fix the climate problem with your immediately available judgements. It’s not up to you and you don’t know best. Your lack of imagination in this regard, “it’s more coal, more coal mines, more fracking wells, more oil spills, etc. THAT will cause untold destruction and make climate change worse,” is stunning. You need to open your mind and think more innovatively. Also it would be a good idea if you take in more points of view, without having to feel like you personally have the answer, such as the points of view of Native American communities, who have survived climate change before, following the last ice age. These histories, libraries, writings, are what are on the ground, related to migrations, travels, foods, medicines, etc. and that is what is endangered by large solar development and wind. That is what is sacred. Get it? I realize it is an unfamiliar thought, but a little research might yield rewards.

          • Shanghai Brown

            What racist pap! White folks bulldoze and build and that’s cool, but if an Indian builds a casino or a shopping mall, they clearly don’t care about their spiritual values. Racism, pure and simple. And an ignorant approach toward renewable energy as well. Oh, and by the way, it’s NEVER “clean” energy. That’s just outright ignorant. The mining, fabrication, transportation, installation, maintenance, and transmission of energy is NEVER clean. There are a lot of environmental impacts involved in your clean energy. Oddly enough, placing solar projects NEAR the urban areas that use the energy would be far cleaner and greener than sticking them out in the desert 100+ miles from the folks using the energy. I’m done, however, discussing anything with racists. It’s smelling like a KKK meeting in here. In fact, I’m through with CleanTechnica.com. Their moderators are ignorant of the topics they moderate and are insulting, mean-spirited, and racist to boot. That can only mean that this site endorses such behavior. Who knew the green urban pseudo-intellectual elite could be such ignorant bullies?

          • Bob_Wallace

            Shanghai – I’ve cut people an unusually large amount of slack in this discussion. But it’s time to reel back and act civilly toward others. Find your inner niceness, please.

            You have a small point that no energy source is absolutely clean. That’s an unfortunate reality.

            But that does not mean that we have to accept the dirtiest. For the sake of all of us on the planet we much use the least dirty. And if that inconveniences some of us, well, the world is not perfect.

          • BighornNV

            Bob, you are getting your 15 minutes here. Pretty obvious that you have never visited our region or bothered to learn about it. Uneducated climate armchair activist. Your stupidity will only help big fossil fuel developers that build 90 percent fossil fuel and 1 percent renewables.

        • Robert Lundahl

          This question of the tortoise count actually really disturbs me. It is not part of the film, but I can relate to you that you don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t think the BLM knows and neither does Fish and Wildlife. From what I have gleaned from various sources, and keep in mind the facts are not necessarily the truth, It looks to me (my opinion) like the total number is in the thousands. I have found no reason to dispute Reverend Van Fleet’s statement in substance. I have also been out on the land with a tortoise biologist and observed the patterns of tortoise behavior on the land.

          • Bob_Wallace

            “It looks to me (my opinion) like the total number is in the thousands.”

            Your opinion is totally worthless. Absolutely totally worthless.

            There are multitudes of studies and there is absolutely no way that thousands of tortoises would be found in a 5 square mile area.

          • Robert Lundahl

            Had you been to Ivanpah before the eco-cide? Stateline is not Ivanpah. My goodness, what a tirade. You must be afraid there is more to consider that the industry perspective. This seems to have struck a nerve. As it should. But let’s get back to reality. I am a documentary film maker. You have not seen my film. You want to argue about tortoise. Tortoise are not in the film. You want to argue with indians, Great go argue with an Indian. What I did was listen to tribes and tribal members as the BLM was required by law to do and did not. They did not fulfill their legal obligations to the tribes. This is not about whether solar energy is good, it is about whether we are good. You are all over the map, because your industry and/or BLM bosses are freaking out. My statement of record is this: “The idea that liberal, environmentalist greens in a Democratic administration are committing cultural genocide and ecocide is certainly something they don’t want to hear, and so they tune out, like blind mice, but I have seen it with my camera, and with very little embellishment–what needs to be embellished, after all? It simply is the raw truth, the ugly truth of who we are, and how we operate, that to my eyes and ears is 100% unacceptable. And I personally, would be less of a human being if I kept silent.
            You are playing your part perfectly. Thank you for helping to promote the film

          • Robert Lundahl

            Here is the Tortoise information that I have from the BLM that was published in the Riverside Press Enterprise. “More than 3,000 desert tortoises would be disturbed by a solar project in northeast San Bernardino County and as many as 700 young ones would be killed during three years of building, says a federal assessment issued Tuesday.The document, made public by the U.S. Bureau of Land of Management, was released about a week after federal officials ordered developer BrightSource Energy Co. to halt construction activity on two-thirds of the project area near Primm, Nev. Biologists hired by the company had a permit from federal wildlife officials to disturb—handle, move and/or test for disease—no more than 38 adult tortoises. That limit had been reached.” http://dpcinc.org/index.php/site/article/shocking_report_from_blm_on_ivanpah_tortoises/

            Juvenile tortoise are underground and essentially impossible to find. I ask the question as a citizen, are these numbers of the juvenile count realistic? Or are they an undercount. Also, as Reverend Van Fleet indicates, there is no counting of eggs. According to the FT Irwin translocation results up to 30.8% of translocated tortoises died. So you get up into the thousands pretty quickly, if you can rely on the BLM as the sole source of these numbers. As Shanghai Brown indicated, their performance in locating cultural resources has been pretty poor and one might assume politically motivated, so that is another potential reason to “round up.” There have been also other BLM statements published to the effect that 1000 burrows have been destroyed, etc, Impacts to Tortoise habitat, is not necessarily reflected in Tortoise counts at this moment in time, and that habitat has been scraped. So methods of accounting are not necessarily consonant with one another. There is also the question of what you have to gain by trying to have an argument with a film maker about tortoise? I have mentioned several times that the discussion of tortoise is not in the film. On the matter of the term eco-cide that I used in a quote, the land and the habitat of all species, not only tortoise, has been destroyed, Any visit, preferably on foot to the ivanpah Valley, the Ivanpah area, of the Mojave Preserve reveals its richness, not only in terms of animal species but botanical species as well. Any visit to the Ivanpah project site reveals the destruction. Maybe you should get out from behind your computer every now and then.

        • Roy L Hales

          The opposition to big solar and big wind in San Diego, primarily comes from the communities (white and Native American) who are having it imposed on them.

          I am going to direct you to interviews with two County Supervisors, one for and one against this. PLEASE click on the links and read their comments yourself. Here is a synopsis:

          From County Supervisor Dianne Jacob, who represents East County:

          1. How do the people of East County feel about the industrial scale wind and solar projects going into their midst? Are we hearing from a vocal minority? Or are they representative of a widely held sentiment? How do you know this?

          Dianne Jacob: “My constituents and I have raised serious concerns for years about the potential impact of industrial-scale energy projects in our backcountry. This isn’t a case of a vocal minority making noise. I hear concerns all across my district, in many communities, that these mammoth projects threaten to destroy natural resources, heighten the risk of wildfire and rob rural communities of their quality of life.”

          2. Do you believe their concerns are justified? .

          Dianne Jacob: “Their concerns are justified. That was made clear last year when SDG&E completed Sunrise Powerlink. The giant transmission line destroyed miles and miles of once-pristine landscape and has increased the risk of wildfire in an already fire-prone area. Many of my constituents worry that the line is just a sign of things to come as developers step up their efforts to build large energy projects in the backcountry.”

          Read the interview for yourself : http://www.sandiegolovesgreen.com/qa-with-county-supervisor-dianne-jacob-about-the-industrial-scale-wind-and-solar-projects-in-east-county/

          from County Supervisor Dave Roberts (pertaining to the recently passed wind ordinance):

          I understand the concerns of residents in Boulevard. Sadly, Boulevard residents are going to be surrounded by large wind turbines on federal, Imperial County, and tribal lands. The County Board of Supervisors has no control over the approval of those turbines.

          Read the full article: http://www.sandiegolovesgreen.com/supervisor-dave-roberts-on-the-wind-debate/

        • Shanghai Brown

          Keep talkin’ out your ass Bob. It’s not like I haven’t been covering this issue for years now. If anything, I’m understating things in my comments. You could read about it in my stories over the past three years, but you’d just keep thinking you know more than the people who are commenting on this story who have been covering these developments anyway. Your ignorance of the issues at hand, coupled with your racist arrogance about Native American issues, makes you wildly unfit to be a moderator for anything.

    • Robert Lundahl

      You’re talking about a different project in a different place.

  • Bob_Wallace

    How about putting things in perspective for us?

    “1,000 adult tortoise (a threatened species) killed at Ivanpah.”

    What is the estimated total population?

    What percentage of the tortoise population would survive a significant increase in desert temperatures along with a decrease in already limited rainfall?

    We need some ways to measure cost and risk. You should have those numbers on hand.

    “17,000 Native American cultural sites are to be destroyed by the build out of Large Solar and Wind in California alone”

    What qualifies as a Native American cultural site? How many of these sites exist? What percentage would be destroyed?

    And how many of these cultural sites are ones of any significance? We could say that every spot on Earth is a cultural site if a human once walked on it or sat down to eat their lunch. How low are you setting the threshold?

    How does the area allocated for wind and solar installations compare to the amount given over to grazing, mining, and off-road vehicle use?

    How much of their own lands are Native Americans using for development purposes? Make sure you include coal plants.

    Let’s make sure this discussion is based on facts and not on hand-waving and exaggeration.

    • Robert Lundahl

      Neither you nor I are in any position to decide “What is best.” If you want to know how Native Americans feel about it, why don’t you ask them? Your other comparatives are diversionary from the point. Is there something wrong with generating solar on your rooftop? Or do you have to decide in your infinite wisdom that a culture, or cultures would like to sacrifice their cultural identity for your excesses?

      • Bob_Wallace

        So are you admitting that your film is a pack of lies?

    • Shanghai Brown

      It’s not really your place, nor mine, to tell Native Americans which sites are of cultural significance. Quite a few are being destroyed by these projects, and the BLM is not conducting proper tribal consultation protocol for these projects.

      • Bob_Wallace

        Let’s face facts, shall we? You oppose solar in the desert.

        It matters not that the amount of land used is miniscule compared to the amount given over to mining, grazing and off-road vehicles. But those uses seem to not concern you.

        And with your opposition to solar you are willing to shanghai some Native American extreme claims in order to oppose solar.

        I don’t know what your motivation is, but I suspect bad things.

        • Robert Lundahl

          Actually it’s not miniscule, it’s 20 million acres in California alone. Native American “extreme claims”???? My motivation ???? Bad things???? Holy Toledo. What’s up with you? I just asked Native Americans. Which is something the BLM did not do, in a regular and consistent manner, despite being required to by law, Section 106 of the NRHP, National Historic Places Act of 1966, according to my informants, the ones with whom consultation was to have taken place.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Robert, I’m sorry but you’re coming across as dumb as a post.

            You really think that 20 million acres in California will be used for solar? Haven’t you bothered to figure out what the 20 million acres issue is?

            Didn’t 20 million acres sound like a lot to you? Did you bother to convert it into square miles? (31,250) Did you wonder how many Brightsources could be built on that area? (6,250)

            Had you engaged your brain just a bit you should have figured out that there was a flaw in your outrage.

            I gave you the BLM estimate that “the project could kill or displace 32 desert tortoises, although a higher estimate of 88 tortoises is also possible” on an adjacent project, but you chose to believe some preacher who claimed -

            “When they moved the desert tortoises to make way for Ivanpah’s solar project around 1,300 adult males are believed to have died “and they did not count the juveniles or the eggs.””

            You chose to believe that guy rather than check to see what the BLM reported?

            I asked you a series of question you never answered:

            “1,000 adult tortoise (a threatened species) killed at Ivanpah.”

            1) What is the estimated total population?

            2) What percentage of the tortoise population would survive a significant increase in desert temperatures along with a decrease in already limited rainfall?

            We need some ways to measure cost and risk. You should have those numbers on hand.

            “17,000 Native American cultural sites are to be destroyed by the build out of Large Solar and Wind in California alone”

            3) What qualifies as a Native American cultural site? How many of these sites exist? What percentage would be destroyed?

            4) And how many of these cultural sites are ones of any significance?

            You just aren’t bringing anything but useless arm-waving to this discussion.

          • Robert Lundahl

            You don’t get to measure cost and risk, nor make decisions for Native communities. Item 3 is out of your field. You’re not going to be the expert there. Same with 4. I’m repeating myself. Who is doing the arm waving? I understand you don’t like it. Get over it.

          • Shanghai Brown

            There you go again with your outside racist qualification system for Native American cultural sites. You’re also asking questions that indicate a gross ignorance of the desert. You’d know that the loss of 1,000 desert tortoises is a significant figure if you knew jack all about them. Wasting time with you.

        • Shanghai Brown

          It’s not at all miniscule, so you either have an agenda, or you don’t know what you’re talking about Bob. I’m inclined toward the latter position, but…..

        • BighornNV

          Again you are ignorant Bob. Grazing and OHV use impacts are trumped by 100 percent removal of habitat. You just can’t figure out the Desert Sunlight Solar Farm removed 6 square miles of desert habitat. Tires damage habitat, but not on that kind of industrial scale. Even areas that have seen major OHV use can recover ecologically over time.

    • Roy L Hales

      In the article I put a link to the National Congress of American Indian resolution condemning the destruction of Native American Indian sites. It speaks for around 500 tribes. I suggest that rather than simply spouting off, you read the resolution. Here is the link. http://www.ncai.org/attachments/Resolution_OeIuFtIdSkFGLegasHKxpZbfgoapAICtwAXhfibMxwXRmxVyELi_LNK-12-036.pdf

      Here is a link to coverage of the California Native American Heritage Commission (NAHC) recognizing the entire 12,000 acre Ocotillo Wind Project site as a sacred Native American cultural landscape. Note that the local Quechan name for it is “Valley of Death” and “Hundreds of significant Native American cultural resource sites have been documented, including cremation sites, petroglyphs, geoglyphs, ancient villages and prehistoric trails.” http://www.sandiegolovesgreen.com/nahc-recognize-ocotillo-wind-farm-site-as-native-american-sacred-site/

      Here is an earlier report, from East County Magazine (That is East County San Diego), in which you can see a picture of one of the geoglyphs at Ocotillo before it was destroyed http://eastcountymagazine.org/node/9104

      Here is a link to another article that I wrote about Robert Lundahl’s film in which you can see pictures of geoglyphs (viewed from an airplane) at Blythe as well as the site where the True North Geoglyph stood before it was bulldozed. http://www.sandiegolovesgreen.com/revisiting-who-are-my-people/

    • BighornNV

      Tortoises have been adapting to changing climate for a while. The basics are higher elevations are cooler while lower elevations are hotter. When you totally cut off the linkage for wildlife populations to migrate over a period of decades, you cut off the ability of an animal population to move upwards, should that be what the long term calls for. Building a 5 square mile solar farm on a wildlife linkage area (Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System) cuts off functional wildlife linkage.

  • sault

    Lots of loaded words and pulling at heartstrings in this article. Native peoples don’t seem to mind all that much when a casino or shopping areas get built on their land, but now we see some opposition to clean energy all of a sudden? You have to wonder how strongly fossil fuel companies are lobbying or downright putting Robert Lundahl on their payroll in some way. Just look at the nonsense about “solar panels[sic]” raising ambient temperatures and shooting “the sun’s rays into the ozone layer from the inside”. Are you kidding me???
    Lundahl makes his agenda and beliefs abundantly clear when he says “liberal, envirnomentalist greens in a Democratic administration are committing cultural genocide and ecocide…” This is just a bunch of Faux “News”-style concern trolling and fear mongering about renewable energy. Who in the heck allowed this trash to be published???

    • Shanghai Brown

      Lots of accurate reporting, you mean, mixed with a little racism toward Native Americans. Native casinos and shopping areas are business enterprises designed to generate income and revenue to support tribal members and tribal programs. They do not destroy multiple square miles of land on the scale of industrial solar and wind projects. You like to toss the “fossil fuel companies putting Lundahl on the payroll” crap around as if you’re on someone’s payroll. You clearly are every bit as biased as you make Lundahl out to be.

      • Bob_Wallace

        Here’s a satellite view of Viejas Casino (San Diego, Calif.) – 327,000 square feet. The casino building alone is over 1/10th of a square mile. Add in the massive hotel, parking lots, campgrounds and the other land that has roads installed and awaiting further development.

        Tell me why renewable energy programs which will help protect all Native American lands from out of control climate change are more important than fleecing some suckers out of their rent money.

        • Robert Lundahl

          Like I said it is not up to you what is best.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Is Brightsource being built on tribal land?

            It appears to me that you have created a major pile of crap.

            You might have entered without an agenda, I can’t determine whether you had one or not, but by the end you clearly have an agenda and you are willing to misrepresent the truth in your desire to support your agenda.

            Shame on you.

          • Robert Lundahl

            Whatever argument you are rather ineptly trying to have with me, you just lost. You are using a disinformation technique that you know as well as I. To take the ad hominem argument. i.e You distort facts and then accuse me of lying, while you yourself engage in disinformation: From Wikipedia. An ad hominem (Latin for “to the man” or “to the person”[1]), short for argumentum ad hominem, is an argument made personally against an opponent instead of against their argument.[2] Ad hominem reasoning is normally described as an informal fallacy,[3][4][5] more precisely an irrelevance.[6]
            I made a film, you have not seen it. You don’t even know what’s in it. You have made numerous racist remarks about everything from Native Casinos (“Native peoples don’t seem to mind all that much when a casino or shopping areas get built on their land”) to disrespecting the obvious facts that the Mojave desert is a rich cultural repository of thousands of years of history and life (“to now we see some opposition to clean energy all of a sudden?”) which obviously indicates you don’t know what you are talking about. Good try. If you are this interested in the subject, Come see the film and buy a ticket. That might reflect better on you instead of offering your review before you have seen it. Thanks for your (not very) enlightened input.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Great. Pull out the ad hominem thing when you get in a tight spot. That’s something we see often with right-wingers. Is that where you got your training?

            And do you not realize that I am going after you? You are the one making absurd statements. First I question your statements and then when you refuse to back them up with facts you tag yourself as a dishonest person.

            And I have made exactly zero racist comments. Another right-wing dodge. Where exactly are you coming from?

          • Robert Lundahl

            LOL.

          • Jennings

            Mr. Wallace: I find your tone not only offensive, but outright malicious. I started reading this article to see what the discussion was about. Then, I see your caustic remarks. Then, I see that you are the moderator. The best for all involved in this discussion is to have you removed as a moderator and replaced with someone who can engage in a healthy debate without personally attacking others. STEP OFF, DUDE! You are only making an a$$ out of yourself.

          • Shanghai Brown

            Every time you make a comment about Native Americans, you have made a racist comment Bob. You’re so damned ignorant and arrogant you don’t realize it, but nonetheless, you have done so.

          • BighornNV

            Bob, he never said the Ivanpah project was on tribal land. You are just a nut! Are you saying that if a project is built on public land, no native americans have a right to an opinion about it? Are you getting enough oxygen?

      • sault

        Hey, I’m not the one throwing around CLASSIC right-wing rhetoric. Lundahl CLEARLY has an ideological chip on his shoulder and is using some of these native people as a tool to achieve his (or his fossil fuel paymaster’s) ends. Seriously, how do solar panels reflect sunlight back up into the ozone layer or increase ambient air temperatures to 150F? This is downright nonsense and Lundahl is cherry-picking the few tribe members that have these crazy ideas in their head.
        Fall for this Faux “News”-style crap all you want, but don’t expect the rest of us to get fooled with you.

        • Robert Lundahl

          Get a grip.

    • SilenceIsConsent

      What do you know about renewable energy. Move to Tehachapi or Mojave, CA and experience it for yourself. There is nothing clean about destroying habitats, man’s life line or destroying the history of mankind when entire cemeteries and all the relics of cavemen are replaced with filthy concrete. You are truly the most classic example of ignorance because you have zero experience and are spewing what you think you know.

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