Ep. 3: “When Green Energy Ain’t So Green” feat. Basin & Range Watch

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How desert wildlife & their habitat lose out to big energy projects

Basin and Range Watch is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization working to conserve the deserts of Nevada and California and to educate the public about the diversity of life, cultures, and history of the desert, as well as sustainable local renewable energy alternatives. They seek to protect desert wildlands and species, groundwater resources, dark night skies, culturally important landscapes, local ways of life, and more.

A major focus is the current push by federal and state agencies to open up undisturbed habitat and public lands in the desert to energy development. They say: “Our goal is to identify the problems of energy sprawl and find solutions that will preserve our natural ecosystems and open spaces. We specialize in ground-truthing proposed project sites and reporting our findings to the public so that everyone is well-informed about how to comment during agency review periods. We pioneered citizen science monitoring of energy projects in the desert. We support energy efficiency, better rooftop solar policy, and distributed generation/storage alternatives, as well as planning for wise energy and land use following the principles of science and conservation biology.”

The founders of Basin & Range Watch are Laura Cunningham & Kevin Emmerich.

Laura Cunningham has a Bachelor’s degree in paleontology from the University of California at Berkeley, where she also studied zoology, botany, herpetology, and natural resource management. Additionally, she undertook graduate study at the University of California, Santa Cruz in Science Communication. She is also a talented artist who has published two illustrated books: A State of Change: Forgotten Landscapes of California (Heyday), and a children’s book: The Bay Area Through Time.

Kevin Emmerich is a former National Park ranger and field biologist. He has focused on desert conservation and land-use issues for many years.

The three of us spoke on the phone on March 8th. We talked about the many issues with large-scale green energy projects in the deserts of the southwest, and also about common sense, locally-based alternatives. This was the second time I interviewed them together; a transcript of the first one, in 2015, appears in my book, “Roadtripping at the End of the World.” Their message–that green energy ain’t always green–deserves far, far more attention than it gets.

Basin & Range Watch:

“Your Money or Your Life: Can We Afford to Work for Peanuts?”

Roadtripping at the End of the World:

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