When most people look out on the hot, dry desert, they see the potential for a serious sunburn and probably a mirage or two. When Chilean entrepreneur Mario Llanis looks out on the cactus-riddled desert of his native country, he sees the possibility for a bio-energy source that could change the industry forever.
Few places are as well suited for large-scale solar projects as California’s Mojave Desert. But as mainstream environmental organizations push plans to turn the desert into a center for renewable energy, some green groups — concerned about spoiling this iconic Western landscape — are standing up to oppose them.
Twenty years ago when an epic clash over the logging of ancient redwood forests roiled California, the battle lines were clear-cut.
On one side stood a Texas corporate raider who acquired the Pacific Lumber Co. in a junk bond-fueled takeover and began felling vast swaths of primeval redwoods to pay off the debt. On the other side was Earth First! and other grass-roots greens who staged a campaign of civil disobedience to disrupt the logging. And while mainstream environmental groups may have looked askance at such tactics, they supported the cause in the courts, suing to stop the clear-cutting of ancient trees.