Fast-Tracking: Good for Solar, Good for Nuclear

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar made a desert splash yesterday with an announcement made in tandem with Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid. From “Secretary Salazar, Senator Reid Announce ‘Fast-Track’ Initiatives for Solar Energy Development on Western Lands“:

LAS VEGAS, Nevada – Under initiatives announced today by Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and U.S. Senator Harry Reid (D-NV), federal agencies will work with western leaders to designate tracts of U.S. public lands in the West as prime zones for utility-scale solar energy development, fund environmental studies, open new solar energy permitting offices and speed reviews of industry proposals.

“President Obama’s comprehensive energy strategy calls for rapid development of renewable energy, especially on America’s public lands,” said Secretary Salazar.  “This environmentally-sensitive plan will identify appropriate Interior-managed lands that have excellent solar energy potential and limited conflicts with wildlife, other natural resources or land users.  The two dozen areas we are evaluating could generate nearly 100,000 megawatts of solar electricity.  With coordinated environmental studies, good land-use planning and zoning and priority processing, we can accelerate responsible solar energy production that will help build a clean-energy economy for the 21st century.”

Excellent idea. Let’s do it! And can we do the same for new nuclear power plants? After all, with coordinated environmental studies, good land-use planning and zoning and priority processing, we can accelerate responsible nuclear energy production that will help build a clean-energy economy for the 21st century.

(100,000 megawatts? That seems like a quite a goal. A nuclear power plant on average can produce about 1,000 megawatts. Should we really believe that solar technology, investment and transmission capacity can be ramped up so quickly as to produce the equivalent of 100 nuclear power plants?)

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