by Jon Sanders
Director of the Center for Food, Power, and Life, Research Editor | John Locke Foundation
Back in 2015, Carolina Journal reported:
North Carolina has no environmental rules for shutting down solar projects safely, state officials say, and may lack sufficient facilities to dispose of the glass, steel, industrial lubricants, and toxic elements after solar panels in the state’s expanding solar industry reach the end of their useful lives.
Since then, CJ has highlighted legislators’ and affected residents’ concerns about North Carolina’s lack of rules concerning solar facility cleanup and potential long-term environmental damage from decommissioned solar installations.
Advocates for the solar industry have pushed back hard against the idea, however prudent it may seem to take proper steps to avoid foreseeable damage to farmland. They were able to remove a provision in the conference report on HB 589 that would have included decommissioning and reclamation bonding.
Given that their industry admittedly cannot survive without a host of government special favors, they have so far succeeded in depicting the idea as an unconscionable burden.
Nevertheless, the Obama administration’s Bureau of Land Management required bonding for solar and wind power facilities on public lands.
As the BLM’s Michael Nedd told the House subcommittee on natural resources last year,
For all solar energy projects permitted on public lands, including the four identified above, the BLM conducts a thorough environmental review, provides for extensive public involvement, and requires full reclamation bonding.
Why is it that reclamation bonding for solar facilities is good enough for federal lands, but not for North Carolina farmland?