When companies want to drill or even just explore for valuable minerals and resources, the industry is destroying valuable American soil. On the other hand, when solar panels are proposed to cover the earth, it’s simply considered barren, worthless desert. At least that’s the logic coming from Robert F. Kennedy Jr., senior attorney for the National Resource Defense Counsel. He said on Monday on Larry King Live:

“We have the Scientific American just published a report that shows in 19 percent of the most barren desert lands in the desert Southwest, we have enough solar energy to provide all the electrical needs of our country. What we need now is a national policy that says, OK, let’s go out and get those electrons and get them into the marketplace.”

Fair enough. But shouldn’t the same rules apply to oil, uranium and other strategic mineral exploration? The science and technology used to explore and drill is done in an environmentally friendly way; and the proposed exploration area of ANWR is a perfect example of the barren land Kennedy mentioned. Take a look at some very telling pictures here.

Furthermore, this shouldn’t be a zero-sum game. Solar energy, as long as the government doesn’t pick winners and losers by mandating and subsidizing the solar industry, should have every opportunity to flourish in the market. However, solar isn’t the panacea. In CEO of Chevron David O’Reilly’s words:

What bothers me about this is everyone portrays it as an either/or debate. It’s not and either/or debate. … We need alternative and we need efficiency and we need conventional oil and gas.”

And don’t forget about nuclear. Nuclear energy has the ability to address environmental concerns while at the same time reducing dependency on foreign oil. It can also meet the rapidly increasing demand for electricity.