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Sources Holler Back

Just received a follow-up call from Desert Rock spokesman Frank Maisano, responding to our two-part report. Maisano took issue with NASA climate scientist Jim Hansen’s claim that Desert Rock won’t reduce regional pollution. Here’s what Maisano had to say:

I just wanted to mention a couple things to you. One is that my good friend Jim Hansen doesn’t know what he’s talking about. For once, he obviously speaks more definitively than what he knows. And, you know, generally he might be right about those issues, in reducing the rate of emissions versus typical power plants. But in our case, we actually are reducing beyond because of the agreement [we have with the Navajo Nation]. We’re actually doing projects at other places, which I don’t think [Hansen] really understands…We plan to reduce overall regional haze pollution by 110 percent.

But this doesn’t speak to the point NASA’s Mark Chandler raised regarding aerosol emissions. As Chandler notes, reducing regional haze pollution, or aerosols, will actually escalate global warming. Nasty aerosols are the most important things to clean up when it comes to public health–which is by far the biggest concern for people living near coal plants–but clearing those up increases the earth’s temperature by allowing more sunlight to break through. One of those teeth-grinding catch-22′s of coal.

Furthermore, Maisano told me that NASA’s Hansen is wrong when he says that CO2 is a considerable health risk for humans. But Science Daily disagrees, citing a study linking CO2 emissions to human mortality.

Maisano also talked about Desert Rock’s take on solar:

The second thing is i wanted to talk to you in more detail about the issue of solar. There’s a big difference between distributed solar in households and large-scale solar. I know because we’re working on these things. The type of solar you’d have to do to match Desert Rock would cover probably more than 30,000 acres. That’s issue number one. The second problem is New Mexico doesn’t have good solar opportunities, apparently, because we’ve looked into it. And of course we are building [solar projects] in places like Nevada and places where they do have good solar opportunities.

I have to say, that surprises me, given that I couldn’t find one renewable energy expert who disagreed with the statement that, when it comes to solar, the Southwest is where you want to be building–due to the abundance of sunlight and cheap land. What makes New Mexico the wrong place for solar?

Maisano’s point, though, that a large-scale solar project could take up a whole lot of land is well-taken.

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