Residents of Pahrump were among the most vocal in speaking out against large-scale solar energy projects during the workshop on the subject hosted by the Beatty Town Advisory Board on Monday, November 8.
Joe Davis of Pahrump was the first to speak. Claiming he had worked in the nuclear power industry, Davis said solar power is “not as safe as everyone says,” claiming it will poison landfills and water with heavy metals, would constitute a danger of electromagnetic radiation and would use practically all the available land and still not able to replace the energy production of nuclear power plants.
Asked about the source of his information, Davis said he had “Googled” him.
Jeannie King, also of Pahrump, said the solar projects would destroy horseback riding and other forms of outdoor recreation in the area, disrupt the soil, creating a “dust” problem and causing the release of water. “huge amounts of carbon” by cyanobacteria. . “
“We are the Wild West,” King said. “We can blow that out of the water.”
Speaking as a member of the Timbisha Shoshone tribe, Barbara Durham said, “I came here as a neighbor.
She was concerned about the disturbance of desert lands, which she said was ancestral land for her people, but also about the effects on wildlife, such as the Desert Turtle.
Claudia Holmes, who recently moved to Pahrump, said she was dealing with things like the current political climate by hiking and horseback riding, and said solar projects “will dramatically change things.” for the environment, the landscape and the animals.
Jaina Moan, of Nature Conservancy, said the organization was concerned about the effects of the projects on wildlife. They are particularly concerned about the proposed route of the Greenlink West transmission line, which runs through a ranch they purchased near Beatty.
Moan pointed out that the Beatty area is a “pinch point” for Greenlink West as the town and its immediate surroundings are bordered on one side by the National Park and on the other by the Nevada Test and Training Range.
She said Conservancy was promoting what she called the “Start Smart Plan,” which examines alternatives, such as installing solar farms in areas already disrupted, and which the organization would like “to help find. another way”.
Moan also said the Greenlink project seems “inevitable,” a point of view not shared by some other workshop participants, notably Laura Cunningham.
Cunningham said the public input required by the licensing process provides an opportunity to slow down or stop the project, and that he would also face legal action.
Kevin Emmerich said the recently passed infrastructure bill will likely provide funding for Greenlink, which is the project that attracts solar developers along its route. He advocated pushing for a solar-free buffer zone around Beatty.
Karl Olson, keeper of Rhyolite and promoter of off-road recreation in the region, said he was in no way opposed to solar power on rooftops, but, when it comes to large-scale solar farms , “We need to stop describing them as solar power. or green energy. They are industrial power plants.
“Now is not the time to be nice,” Olson said. “It’s time to get real.”
At the end of the workshop, Beatty Town Advisory Board Treasurer Erika Gerling called for a show of hands to all those in favor of solar projects. Perhaps it was an act of bravery for a shy hand to stand up.
Richard Stephens is a freelance journalist living in Beatty.