Tortoise Irony

Some greenies like to beleive that everything is simple, that there is an obvious right way out of our quandaries, and that if we adopted the right way all would be well. The LATimes has a counterexample: solar energy facilities vs. an endangered desert tortoise.

The project’s bottom line took on an inevitable arc: as tortoise numbers rose, costs went up.

BrightSource, which was paying to have as many as 100 biologists to be on the site at one time, began seeing red. The company warned that tortoise mitigation was jeopardizing Ivanpah’s viability. In an email to a BLM official, DeYoung complained that tortoises were at that point costing the company as much as $40 million. “This truly could kill the project,” he wrote.

BrightSource lawyer Jeffrey D. Harris wrote to the California Energy Commission to suggest that if the Ivanpah crashed because of tortoises, the state’s renewable energy goals would meet the same fate.

Ironies abound in the story:

The animals were once so abundant that Southern Californians used to bring the small ones home from desert trips as souvenirs, and the animals lived quiet lives in suburban backyards.

Once the tortoise was added to the endangered species list in 1990, however, a reverse diaspora occurred. Panicked moms and dads streaked back to the Mojave to release the now-protected tortoise. The story does not end there, nor does it end well. The former captives brought with them disease that spread and killed tortoises across the Mojave.

To cap it off, when I read the article the LA times served me up a prominent ad for a Dodge Ram to go with it.

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