A Solar Land Rush In The West

Hillary Angelo at Harper’s Magazine:

In a 1947 article for this magazine, the essayist and historian Bernard DeVoto warned of the “forever-recurrent lust to liquidate the West.” “Almost invariably the first phase was a ‘rush,’ ” he wrote. “Those who participated were practically all Easterners whose sole desire was to wash out of Western soil as much wealth as they could and take it home.” For DeVoto, the New Deal offered a chance for more sustainable and locally beneficial uses of Western resources, but, in the end, Eastern capital was “able to direct much of this development in the old pattern.”

When outsiders try to describe the solar rush, they reach for historical analogies: the 1889 Oklahoma land rush; the early-twentieth-century eucalyptus boom that tore up the desert; housing speculation and development in the Aughts. But in Beatty such boom-and-bust cycles—the sort they’ve been trying to break out of for the past ten years—are part of the everyday landscape. In the desert, the past is close to the surface.

more here.