Saturday, December 29, 2007
Saturday, December 22, 2007
Once upon a time; there were these corporations who made billions and billions of dollars making the world move. They supplied the fuel, and everybody was happy – for a while. But then something strange happened. You see, these corporations got together with the fuel suppliers and tried to make billions and billions more dollars. By the time the people realized what was happening, everything they owned already ran on this fuel. The corporations were very happy.
But then one day, somebody had an idea. Let's create a new way of making the world move. The corporations were not happy. They liked the way things are. They didn't want change. They called themselves conservatives. They knew they were right.
But soon after, somebody else had an idea. Let's get our energy from the Sun. It could be as simple as heating your water with sunlight, or as complete as home power self-generation. The corporations were scared then. They liked their billions and billions of dollars. They wanted more.
So, the corporations went to the government. They made friends with the government. They bought the government leaders lots of presents. They wanted the government's help. They got it. They got even more billions and billions of dollars, from taxpayers.
Thats right, the government gave the corporations money from the taxpayers – who were also paying to get the fuel – and getting sick from the fuel. But the taxpayers weren't really paying attention, so they just paid.
But then one day, somebody noticed. Hey, we work all the time to pay for things that will eventually hurt us. Even the corporations realized he made sense. But they still wanted some more billions and billions of dollars. So they made a plan:
They would let other companies invest in alternative power generation. The corporations however, would invest in coal, and make a lot money for a while. With that money, and the money from the government, they would be alright when they drop prices for a while.
So then, with prices down, the other companies wouldn't make enough to be able to pay their bills. This would make those other power companies very sad. So sad that they would sell their solar and wind machines to the corporations for next to nothing. This would make the corporations very happy. They would have complete control of the industry again...
Do you know what that means?
Merry Christmas for them.
Sorry, you get coal.
Remember, this is just a story.
It can only come true if we let it.
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
If you read my previous entry, you may recall that I was raving about the unfair advantages the fossil fuel industry got (at taxpayers expense), and the likelihood the nuclear industry would receive the same.
They didn't get it. The nuclear industry didn't get the multi-billion dollar loan guarantees they had tried to sneak into the Appropriations Bill. Yes! We just saved 25 billion dollars... and maybe the alternative energy industry.
Of course, the wind/solar/etc. power companies have been crippled by Congress' continuing subsidization of the the fossil fuel industry (like they need it). But, that's the way corrupt politics has kept it for over 25 years now, and sustainable energy technology is overcoming it. Someday soon, we just might get clean, safe, and reliable power at stable prices. If we have learned anything from the past 50 years, we must know by now that we won't be getting that from the fossil fuel or nuclear industry.
Monday, December 17, 2007
I don't believe it. I didn't realize it was this bad. They're robbing us blind. They're poisoning our future. They're even risking the collapse of our civilization. And Americans grumble a little bit and keep paying their taxes. That's not how a democracy works.
Go ahead, ask anybody you know (anybody who doesn't make money through the fossil fuel industry). Ask them if they think the oil companies should continue to get billions of dollars in subsidies? It will be virtually unanimous. Hell no! But the Senate did just that. And not only that, the subsidies were supposed to go for clean energy – and now they won't.
Let me get this straight; instead of helping develop cleaner, safer, and ultimately cheaper energy generation, billions of our dollars are going to line the pockets of the fossil fuel industry. Don't they have enough of our money? Isn't global warming even on these Senators' radar? No terrorist has ever come close to this much damage. Shame on the Senate! Or at least shame on just over half of them. How could they? It's their future too. (Of course, if they had kept the Bill the way the House sent it to them, Bush Jr. would have vetoed it.)
It gets worse. Now, Republican Senator Pete Domenici has slipped a little something into the 2008 Appropriations Bill – 25 BILLION dollars in loan guarantees for the nuclear power industry. And this is after a public outcry forced him to drop the multi-billion dollar give away in a previous Bill.
Doesn't Pete remember Chernobyl? That's got to be the worst industrial accident in history. They told us it was safe back then too. And for Americans to be forced to pay billions of dollars to risk our health even more? Especially when wind/solar/etc. energy is working. Yes, in spite of the fossil fuel industry's unfair subsidy advantage, private investors are developing and building clean power generation – now.
So, “our” government wants to give the nuclear industry a multi-billion dollar unfair advantage also?
When dirty money becomes systematically more important to our "leaders" than the future of our country, the future of humanity, and even the future of life on Earth; this becomes more than just overwhelming corruption. I would call the corrupt politicians who sell out to these even more corrupt corporations whores, but that would be an insult to prostitutes. No, if I'm to stoop to name calling, I'll call them fascists. That's right, I used the “f” word. They're acting just like FASCISTS! Our government has essentially been infiltrated by fascists, who intend to allow the highest bidders to drain us dry - and leave nothing behind. Sure, they'll tell you they're freedom loving defenders of democracy. But did you expect them to tell you?
When we think about fascism, we tend to think about Nazis and militarism. We don't often think about why fascists do what they do. There is a reason. Bullys aren't bullys just to push others around. They have a reason. Usually its that they want something... actually everything. Militarism is a tool, a tool to concentrate wealth in the hands of the greedy. When the greed becomes all-powerful, self-destructive, and effectively insane; we no longer have capitalism. Its getting to the point where we are beginning to have fascism.
Something is terribly wrong when our government ignores the people (and common sense) to enrich the corporations who are raping our environment, our economy, and our future – when better alternatives are right here.
We are witnessing the organized destruction of a part of our future – to make a few people hideously rich. This is worse than monopolistic behavior. This is mean-spirited, self-destructive, oligopolistic behavior... you know, like fascism. Wasn't it Mussolini that said fascism should be called corporatism? Corporations don't even have the vote, but they have vastly more power than us. It appears some corporations even have power over our government officials.
Please Pete, please Congress, prove to us you're not fascists. Do the right thing.
If we don't fix things now, we may as well be fighting over the best seats on a sinking ship.
Saturday, December 08, 2007
If customers ultimately pay the costs for electric power, there really isn't any greater financial risk to some power companies with either coal-fired power or truly clean power.
I just read that the Nevada Public Utilities Commission (PUC) will allow Sierra Pacific to pass expenses onto customers of a carbon tax, the inflation (etc.) costs of coal, and the costs of building a carbon sequestration facility (if they ever build it). We already know that the coal industry won't have to pay for the health care of people their coal-fired power plants make sick. So, its no wonder Sierra Pacific thinks coal is a good idea. They're not going to get stuck paying for any of the negatives. They don't have to pay the real-world costs. However (and this a very important however), the same is also true about clean, sustainable power generation.
So... why should Sierra Pacific care? If the customers ultimately pay, no matter how the power is generated; then why not just do the right thing? Sierra Pacific has no competition in Las Vegas and Reno. The State guarantees they'll make a profit on the electricity they sell. So, why does it matter?
A utility should want cost stability. In fact, that's been the power companies' argument. They want to “diversify” their portfolio. So, why don't they want to “diversify” into a power generation method that has only fixed costs. Now that's cost stability.
Hey, those Sierra Pacific executives have to breath the air too. They have to deal with the devastation of global warming too. What is the only real reason they might even consider coal-fired power? Maybe...money... Maybe this whole coal-fired power thing isn't about being prudent at all. Maybe this is about maximizing short-term profits.
We've seen this before. Those who can manipulate the supply, can manipulate the price – can get filthy rich (at the expense of their customers). We've seen this with natural gas. We've seen this with gasoline... Fossil fuels are prone to price manipulation.
Doesn't anyone remember the California power shortages in 2000? There was no real shortage of fuel. The generation facilities have been adequate since then. And alternative power played essentially no role in the shortages.
The way I remember 2000 is that the rolling blackouts were contrived. The power companies shut down their generators at critical times. They wanted to limit supplies, and therefore artificially raise prices. It might have worked if their business partners, Enron, hadn't worked the scheme against them. Enron pricing practically ran Nevada Power and Sierra Pacific out of business. But, Enron couldn't have created the shortages on their own.
I've heard rumors that Nevada Power stopped stocking needed spare parts before 2000. Hey, maybe they just didn't have the money to keep their plants running reliably. But, then again, they were partners with Pacific Gas and Electric at the Mojave coal plant near Laughlin. That's right; Nevada Power and PG&E were business partners in a power plant that supplied power to California during the power shortages. Did Sierra Pacific know about the coming shortages – and participate? I would suspect so. Would they try it again? I would suspect so.
It just may be that the reason Sierra Pacific wants these coal-fired power plants so bad is because they intend to manipulate the market. If the price of coal rises, the price of power will have to rise also. The real question is; how much? As Greg Palast says; “In confusion is profit.”
The Nevada PUC was recently here in Ely to present their side of the Sierra Pacific coal-fired power plant story. It became quite obvious right away whose side the PUC is on. Their presentation may has well have been written by Sierra Pacific. For example; they stated that windmills kill birds (a dubious claim), while they never even mentioned any health effects of coal-fired pollution to humans (a huge oversight). Maybe some in the commission are looking forward to the revolving door of well paid jobs with Sierra Pacific soon? My point is; don't expect the Public Utilities Commission to protect the public any more. I doubt there is any real regulation of power prices in Nevada.
So, if the PUC won't protect us from unreasonable price hikes; what's to keep Sierra Pacific from raising prices? Simple; they can't raise prices if they don't have an excuse. They don't have an excuse if their costs don't change... Everyone knows the price of sunlight doesn't change. It will always be free.
Why would Sierra Pacific want to generate power so dirty we wouldn't want to buy it? The day is at hand when the well-off can just generate their own clean power. Why would the power companies want to push them away? And how are the power companies going to make up for the lost customers? Their only option is to raise prices on the only customers they'll have left; the poor.
This is crazy to me. Coal-fired power is simply a bad long-term investment. Everyone in the industry knows that those coal industry projections of supply are inflated. The National Academy of Sciences has told us so. Is it that Sierra Pacific management doesn't care about the future? Hey, by the time the company goes broke for relying on antiquated technology, they'll be retired. But they'll make a mint until then...
This is not a long-term strategy. Coal-fired power is a get rich quick scheme, with no regard for the future.
Now for some good news: The third Intermountain Power Project unit near Delta, Utah has been put on hold at least through the coming decade.
Friday, November 30, 2007
SNWA WATERGRAB PHOTOS, Rural Nevada Photos, and related photos.
These places are beautiful.
They are on the flickr website,
just search for "SNWA watergrab"
Check them out.
If you wish to share some of your own photos, add them to your own account on the flickr website. Be sure to use "SNWA watergrab" as key words. So, when anyone searches "SNWA watergrab," all of our photos will show up.
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
So SNWA, are your water grab spin doctors without any conscience? Or is it that they have some extraordinarily sick sense of humor? You claim that you need drain the water (and therefore the life) from Rural Nevada in the name of diversity... How disgustingly ironic. Someone there must have heard of the book The Diversity of Life. How could you be so manipulative as to steal the terminology of the acclaimed scientist, E.O. Wilson? His term, “biodiversity” refers to the vast wealth of life on this planet – of which half is threatened with extinction by the end of this century.
E.O. Wilson has shown that we are right in the middle of the sixth great extinction on Earth – the most “devastating trauma since the extinction event that laid waste the dinosaurs.” And SNWA cant wait to profit from it.
E.O. Wilson's wish is to create an expandable, open-source, web-based “encyclopedia of life” to record everything we know about everything alive. However, SNWA's wish is to erase a big part of that biodiversity. And in the name of what? To “diversify” their sources? This is exactly what George Orwell would have called doublespeak. Diversity isn't about how many different ways you can kill life on Earth. SNWA just borrowed the term to sound responsible. When in fact, history will remember these water grabbers as ecologically as responsible as Stalin was socially.
Friday, November 23, 2007
I have shown in an earlier NoShootFoot blog entry that the Department of Interior (DOI) is effectively corrupt. Since the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) works under the DOI, no matter how dedicated our front line officials may be, we can't expect responsible administration. It is not a coincidence that the BLM has decided now to modify Resource Management Plans (land use plans) in Utah. Redrock Wilderness has reported that:
“The BLM is releasing a flurry of new and draft plans... Though it has taken the agency years to put these plans together, the public will have a scant 90 days to comment on them. If you don't think you can review, absorb, and intelligently comment on 5000 pages of text and hundreds of maps and graphs in that length of time, be sure to let the BLM know and ask for more time.”
The public comment periods for these areas end on these dates:
You can view the Utah BLM's resource management plans and schedules at:
The Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (SUWA) website has more information about these plans and citizen's conservation alternatives at:
Please send your comments as soon as possible.
Of course, here's my call on the situation:
The lame duck Bush administration is desperate. Their approval ratings are near an all time low. There have even been calls for Bush and Cheney's impeachment. These guys could even end up in prison. Consequently, they are quite blatantly selling out to any group who will support them. This is a dangerous time. There are many corporations, industries, and unscrupulous people who just love to take advantage of a weakened administration.
In the case of public lands, the mining industry is groping for everything they can get. For example; mountain top removal coal mining (that is even more destructive than before) is going to be allowed in the Appalachian mountains. (It appears that the coal industry won't be satisfied until they have polluted every stream in the Appalachians.) Is that what we want here? Hell no! But they're trying. The mining corporations want unimpeded access to any place they feel like mining in. And they're more than willing to take advantage of offroaders – who arrogantly want to drive anywhere they damn well please.
Offroaders are being used. That's right, used. Do they really believe the Bush administration gives a damn about them? This opening of wilderness is for the mining corporations. Don't get me wrong. I realize that we need to mine. But to allow mining anywhere these corporations please is just foolish. Many of these mining corporations are foreign owned. We can't expect them to care about our local wilderness. In the end, even offroaders won't want to go to some of these places – because the beauty will be ruined.
We've been to public lands. We've seen that there are plenty of roads. We don't need more roads.
What we have here are people who selfishly want to turn our public lands and wilderness into shooting gallery amusement rides. This is not Disneyland! We need to show some respect. This is supposed to be a civilized society. Guys have learned that we don't go barging into the womens' restrooms, loudly proclaiming that this is a free country and we can go anywhere we want. Everyone and everything need at least some privacy.
Personally, I like riding a quad. They're fun. I may buy one someday – when I get too old and feeble to climb the hills on my own. I drive a four wheel drive truck. I spend a lot of time off pavement. Hey, I'm an offroader! All I'm saying is that we need to drive responsibly.
Let's not succumb to the lowest desires of a vocal minority of the population. There may seem like a lot of them, but to truly gage their importance, we need to consider future generations – who we owe the respect of leaving them something natural to enjoy.
Besides, I'm not saying you shouldn't be allowed onto public lands. I'm not saying you can't go there. I'm saying get off your lazy ass and walk sometimes. It's good for you. And it will be far less damaging to the land. Let's show some respect. Let's not allow ourselves to be used.
Please send your comments to the BLM now.
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
I guess we never should have trusted an oil man to keep the price of oil down.
But that's just the beginning of the bad news.
Ever wonder what we could have done with all our wasted tax money if we had just paid attention when the UN said there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq? Ever wonder how we could have spent all our lost tax dollars if we had only treated the 9/11 attacks as criminal acts of a extremist group of Saudis - instead of using the terrorist attacks as excuses to invade two countries?
Dan Hahn did. He calculated how many solar power stations we could have built. Although he didn't use the total Iraq and Afghanistan war costs, including hidden costs - we can...
For 1.5 trillion dollars, we could have built enough thermal solar generation to power HALF our nation's needs.
Ouch! Ouch! Ouch!
That's right, we could have massively reduced our global warming pollutant emissions and been far less reliant on foreign fossil fuels. With less at stake in the Middle East, there would have been less US military presence, and fewer terrorist acts.
And just in case you didn't know, thermal solar power stores heat - to provide power when the sun isn't shining.
We have every right to feel sick now.
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
What does it take to be
a few fries short of a Happy Meal?
Is it watching a train wreck from the tracks?
Is it watching a wildfire from the treetops?
Is it watching Global warming on your TV (powered by coal)?
OK... What does it take to be the very most fries short?
Is it putting up with SSSDD?
By the way, what's that on your TV?
Hey, looks like there's a tag team wrestling match on.
Its the Suicide Bombers vs. the Armageddon Army.
And it looks like the EAOW, MFP, and SVR are in the audience.
Oh! There's another wrestler in the ring! Looks like the Armageddon Army has hired the Mercenaries For Christ!
Oh! The Suicide Bombers are taking a beating!
But don't count them out.
Those Suicide Bombers have a strange way of coming back stronger.
Oh yeah... so... what does it take?
What does it take – that takes the cake?
How about; competing for the best seats on a sinking ship?
How about; scheming to be emperor of a collapsing civilization?
Here's best one, though:
How about; believing that you have to create a Hell on Earth in order to go to Heaven?
Wow! Have they gone koo-koo for cluster puffs?
Those CFCs win it, hands down! FUBARR!
They're ready to drink the Kool-Aid,
and they're insisting the rest of the world drink it too.
This Evangelical / Jewish / Jihad has got to stop!
You can't make the World better by making it worse.
BFD – Blind Faith Determinism
SSSDD – Same Stupid Slimeballs, Different Day
EAOW – Evil Atheists Opposing the War
MFP – "Moderate Fool" Pacifists
SVR – Screwed Veterans Resistance
cluster puffs – the explosion of cluster bombs
CFC – Crazy Fascist Christians
FUBARR – F#cked Up Beyond All Reasonable Religion
wWjd – What WOULD Jesus Do?
Thursday, November 08, 2007
I made this presentation right after a string of pro-coal advocates had each made their case why we just had to have coal-fired power plants in Steptoe Valley. Now; If you've only heard the argument once, it sounds enticing. Basically, it goes like this: "Ely's had some bad times... and we just need the money." But, after hearing this same story over and over and over again, it really started to sound pathetic. After hearing the same story so many times, I eventually started to hear "We're broke, and we'll do anything for money." I can't believe that some of the most respected members of our community could allow themselves to be so taken. The money has clouded their thinking. We can only hope that by the time they finally agree with us, it won't be too late. If they could have this evening, they would have signed our lives away.
So, before I began, I said a little something to the audience:
"Well, its unanimous. We all agree that White Pine County is POOR!
But let's not shoot ourselves in the foot over it.
This is about far more than Ely's economy."
Thank you for being here.
Sierra Pacific (SPR) has revealed their contempt for our environment when they operated the Mojave power plant without required pollution control equipment right until it was forced to shut down. This corporation has been fined millions of dollars – and would be fined more if the PUC enforced the Renewable Portfolio Standards.
The coal/power industry has earned our lack of trust by buying political influence. They spent over $36 million in campaign contributions in the last two elections.
Personally, I don't see where these coal-fired power polluters can do any long term good. Even when it comes to jobs, there will be more jobs in the long run without them.
Knowing this, many of us are concerned about who's side the PUC is on.
As we all know, the biggest power customer in this area will be SNWA. Some of this power is for the water grab. SNWA has admitted it themselves. What bothers me is that, apparently, the PUC doesn't see any problem with this. Is it just fine that others from our State can take the water from beneath our feet, and reward us with polluted air? Hey! We're citizens of this State too.
With massive reserves of geothermal, solar, and wind energy; Nevada can be an exporter of power, without having to import coal – or waste water. The National Academy of Science states that there is only a 100 year supply of coal – at current use. America may already be close to peak coal production. Nevertheless, 3rd parties control the supply of coal. Our dependence on coal is an invitation for market manipulation, rolling blackouts, and exorbitant costs. Need I remind you that wind and sunlight will always be free.
Coal-fired proponents infer that only coal provides “baseline” power. But, geothermal and thermal solar power can provide baseline. There are new technologies that can turn waste into fuel. And photovoltaics and windmills can store power in compressed gas, flywheels, or even ultracapacitors. Besides, its usually blowing somewhere. Moreover, the biggest draw on power in the largest population in Nevada is air conditioning. We need the most air conditioning during the middle of the day, which just happens to coincide with the most sunshine. The claim that only coal can provide reliable power is just not true. However, what we can rely on from coal is tons of 70 toxic pollutants.
Skeptics of science believe that human induced Global warming is either a neglectable problem or too far off into the future for us to care. Both of these arguments are quite obviously irresponsible. Worse, they're wrong. Our polar ice caps are melting, our forests are burning, our weather is getting less hospitable, and thousands of species risk extinction. If there is a natural global warming occurring, we want to do everything we can to prevent a double punch of natural and human induced Global warming. Nevada is already seeing drought, pine beetle infestations, and abnormal wildfires. We need to do everything we can to at least prevent an increase of Global warming pollutants now, not 60 years from now.
If SPR were to sequester millions of tons of CO2 underground, that CO2 is bound to leak out. The ground underneath the Great Basin is porous. The USGS claims that there are large deposits of water underneath the Great Basin Valleys – and these deposits are interconnected. SPR's only option would be to pipe the CO2 someplace else – maybe hundreds of miles away. This would be extremely expensive. So, pardon me for not being impressed that SPR has provided an empty lot and lame promises that they will do carbon sequestration “when it becomes economically feasible.” SPR wants us to commit to decades of Global warming pollution, while the only way carbon sequestration will ever happen here is if taxpayers and ratepayers pay for it... and it won't be cheap.
We all know that big corporations have a way of getting around government legislation. If the coal industry gets it's confusing version of cap and trade legislation for carbon emissions, don't expect cleaner air. If the PUC just says no to coal-fired power plants, now, we could set that cap at zero on new power generation – because wind, solar, and geothermal energy won't emit any CO2.
If SPR builds coal-fired power plants, don't be surprised if they lose customers. People will install their own clean power. We can be angry at SPR, but they have simply adapted to our system. The more power they sell and the more corners they cut, the more money they make. We need to completely decouple profits from irresponsible behavior. We are beginning to pay them for the power they save and the clean power they help generate. But we also need to make them pay for the unnecessary damage they cause. The EPA states that 24,000 Americans die prematurely every year from coal pollution. If SPR had to pay the true costs for coal, including unnecessary health care costs, they would be first in line for truly clean energy.
No matter how we generate power, there will be both construction and maintenance jobs. Alternative power can provide clean, safe, and sustainable jobs. That's right, sustainable jobs. Coal will eventually run out, but wind and sunlight will be around forever.
Just how will history remember us? Nevada can set an important example, or we can be part of the problem – actually worse. By building coal-fired power polluters, Nevada would be taking one more step towards being the toxic waste dump for the Nation.
So, who's side is the Public Utilities Commission on?
I really hope you're on our side – for everyones' sake... in the long run.
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
The people who work for Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA) seem like good, decent people. So, what kind of mental control does society have over them – to persuade them to perpetrate the Rural Nevada water grab (essentially an environmental Holocaust)?
These are people who wouldn't think of setting wildfires in Rural Nevada. But they're willing to drain the water supply of tens of thousands of acres of pristine high desert – with obvious wildfire consequences.
They wouldn't think of shooting every last animal in these valleys. But they're willing to leave them dieing of thirst.
They wouldn't think of robbing people. But they're willing to take away whole valleys' water supplies by exploiting the regulations and administrators of our government.
They wouldn't kill someone for their body parts – even if it were to save others. But they're quite willing to buy coal-fired power (which will pollute the air) and create massive dust bowls (resulting in even more air pollution). With all of these pollutants in the air, inevitably, people will die – so that Southern Nevada can continue to grow – unsustainably.
The hypocrisy of these actions may seem quite apparent to outsiders. But employees of SNWA are somehow able to rationalize excuses for these despicable acts. Something has taken over the judgment of these good people. I suspect that something is fear... fear of losing “everything.”
American corporate capitalism has left many in fear of losing their jobs, their health care, their homes, and even their loved ones. It could be argued that America has become a Nation of wage slaves. Maybe, but wait a minute. SNWA is a “quasi-municipality.” SNWA employees have secure, quasi-socialist careers. Is it that the employees of SNWA fear being thrown into the uncaring jaws of American capitalism? I think so. I'm no psychologist, but I believe I can relate to the job loss fear. They must feel a sense of dread at the prospect of having to find new jobs in today's market. That likely makes them desperate to hold onto the jobs they have. But just how desperate? Could their self esteem be driven so low that they would willing to think as they are told? Just what would it psychologically take to get them to participate in the biggest environmental disaster (effectively the biggest mass killing) in Nevada history?
We can learn something about why people are capable of mass killing from the Nazi Holocaust. The officers and enlisted men directly responsible believed they were “only carrying out orders.” They felt they “had no other choice.” Some rationalized that the “ends justify the means.” Many believed the Nazi propaganda. Apparently, they felt that to get by, they had to do whatever they were ordered to. The excuses of Nazi Fascists can be explained psychologically in rather simple terms. When people are afraid, and feel powerless to do the right thing, they'll do what they're told. All it takes to instill that kind of fear and obedience is for a few “examples” to be made of dissenters.
The acting head of SNWA, Pat Mulroy, once tried to limit growth in the Las Vegas area. Due to that act of independent thinking that bordered on insubordination, Ms. Mulroy almost lost her job. The ramifications of what happened to her must have reverberated throughout SNWA. If she could be fired for trying to do the right thing, no one was safe. Evidently, just saying that Las Vegas should limit it's growth at SNWA is a dismissable offense. Evidently, just saying that SNWA should desalinate ocean water, could keep one from getting a promotion. Evidently, just saying that Southern Nevada could conserve their way out of this situation, could get one reassigned to a dead end job.
When the truth can't be told in an organization, you cannot expect those within that organization to make rational decisions. When the only acceptable reality is a delusion, people will either believe it or pretend to. If management claims that California controls the flow of water at Hoover Dam, it has to be accepted as the truth. If management claims that SNWA will monitor the environmental conditions of Rural Nevada, it has to be accepted as truth that SNWA will not harm Rural Nevada. If management claims that there are no other options, there must be no other options.
It has been said; “Where you stand on a subject depends upon where you sit.” The employees of SNWA have cushy, well paid jobs – with benefits. That's rare these days. With corporate control of so many companies; downsizing, multi-tasking, and reduced benefits are the norm. The employees of SNWA know where they stand. They're being paid well to believe what they are told. This is not an uncommon situation. When given the choice between a paycheck and the truth, most people will abandon the truth.
When the truth can't be told within an organization, you can't possibly expect the truth to be told to outsiders. We simply cant trust them. We simply cannot believe their version of reality without very close scrutiny. We need to ask some tough questions. And we cannot just passively accept lame answers. Our future, and the future of the West is at stake.
Here are some questions that we should ask (and keep asking):
There is simply no physical way that SNWA could take massive amounts of water from the high deserts of Rural Nevada without causing devastating harm. So, why would SNWA even bother to claim to care about the environment?
SNWA has spent massive amounts of money trying to convince Las Vegans that the water grab is a good idea. I've heard rumors they've spent close to a Billion dollars on PR. Couldn't that money have been spent on something more productive?
If all that money spent on advertising had been spent on desalination plants, there would soon be more water available for both Nevada and California. If all SNWA wanted to do was inform the public, they could have done that on the evening news for free. Why is it so important to manipulate Las Vegas water customers?
There is enough water flowing in the Colorado River to meet Las Vegas' present needs – no matter how low Lake Mead gets. So why is SNWA trying to imply that Las Vegas could run out of water by pointing to Lake Mead levels?
Why are both Lakes Powell and Mead so low, while all of the lakes below them are full? Why have the river flow rates further South been so high? Has SNWA decided to store Lake Mead and Powell water near the Mexican border? If so, why? Are they trying to scare residents of Las Vegas by drawing down Lake Mead?
For now, SNWA claims that its cheaper to take water from Rural Nevada than make fresh water from sea water, and trade that water for a bigger allotment of the Colorado River. Why are costs more important than doing the right thing? Or is it the profits vs. trades (take vs. make) decisions that are driving SNWA executives?
The price of desalination keeps coming down. And the price of the pipeline keeps going up. Maybe Southern Nevada can hold off until its cheaper to desalinate. Why hasn't someone from SNWA estimated when the costs will be comparable?
Desalination can be accomplished in small steps – as needed. The pipeline has to be built completely, requiring a huge up-front commitment. What if Southern Nevada doesn't grow as expected? What if the predicted water isn't there? The pipeline requires a huge risk that desalination doesn't require. Why take the risk?
Offshore desalination, utilizing wave power, can be accomplished with minimal environmental impact. Las Vegas can do this cheaper than California – because Vegas already has the infrastructure to recycle the water it could exchange for water they desalinate in California. Why is the environment a lower priority than cost, when we all know that the cost of extraction is just a fraction of the true costs?
There is no accurate price quote for the pipeline. Some SNWA reps are still using a two decade old price tag of 2 billion dollars. However, independent estimates have ranged as high as 20 billion dollars. How can we possibly make reasonable decisions when we really don't know the true costs?
If more water is available, that water will likely be cheaper to customers. So, why not desalinate, and make more fresh water? Could some water companies want there to be a shortage of water?
There is a potential here for multi-billion dollar profits from the water grab. How can we know that privatization is not in the pipeline's future?
SNWA receives a substantial sum of money for every new house that is built. How can we expect SNWA to make unbiased decisions when their bottom line relies upon growth?
Most of the people who live in Southern Nevada are very unhappy with how Las Vegas has grown out of control. Deadly traffic conditions are the most visible sign of growth without reasonable development of infrastructure. If most people in Las Vegas don't like how Las Vegas is growing, why are politicians so pro-growth? Who really controls Las Vegas, Southern Nevada, and Nevada politics? If it isn't the people, could it be an alliance of construction companies, land speculators, and corporations dependent upon growth? Many of these companies, speculators, and corporations don't actually reside in Southern Nevada. Do outsiders have more control over Nevada politics than the people who live here?
Do those people who have the most control over the fate of Nevada care more about short term profits than the long term well-being of our State?
The water grab is the next step in making Rural Nevada the Nation's toxic waste dump. Does Las Vegas really want that? Of course not. What do we really want? These are our communities. This is our State. This is our future. What do we want Nevada to be like in 10, 20, or 50 years? Let's make that happen.
Las Vegas' population has doubled every 10 years for the past 50 years. It is inevitable that eventually this kind of growth is going to have to stop. We can plan for it, or we can wait for the day when true sustainability is impossible – and the system eventually collapses. But don't expect SNWA to be our champions. Nevadans will have to lead in this charge.
Don't get me wrong. I'm not against growth in Southern Nevada. I'm against uncontrolled, unmanageable, unsustainable growth solely for the profit of a few. And I am definitely against growth in the cheapest way possible to maximize those profits for that few – at the expense of others, the environment, and the future.
Sunday, October 21, 2007
There is a reasonable chance we could lose half (that's right HALF) of our forests in the West!
Friday, October 12, 2007
Al Gore received the Nobel Peace Prize for his work on Global warming.
The EPA claims it will develop rules for carbon sequestration next year.
Thursday, October 04, 2007
We've had almost 30 years to learn what the Reagan “revolution” really meant to America. I'm sad to report that we've been cheated. Not all of us, of course... As was once said; “If you rob Peter to pay Paul, you can always get the support of Paul.” In case you haven't figured it out yet; “Paul” is big business.
We are now realizing what Reagan omitted when he said “Government is the problem.” What he purposely left out was “Government is the problem...” to his big financial backers – not us. After almost 30 years; we, the public, still have just as much big Government as ever. Obviously, Reagan didn't care about that. He just wanted our support for his agenda. I believed him for a while – until things got worse instead of better. In case you don't remember, what Reagan didn't clearly say is; what he intended the solution to be. Well, surprise... surprise. We now know that Government regulations were to be replaced by CORPORATE ANARCHY.
Ronald Reagan's big lie was that he would set us free by getting rid of big Government. The joke is on us. Do you feel more free now? Ha! Only if you're a corporate executive.
Doesn't anyone remember the deregulation of the Savings and Loan industry, which led to an enormous taxpayer bailout. Doesn't anyone remember the deregulation of the airline industry, which led to higher ticket prices and lower wages. Or, more recently; doesn't anyone remember the deregulation of the power companies, which led to the Enron debacle... and now the mass construction of dirty, dangerous, old-technology coal-fired power plants.
Government, now, is definitely the problem. The lobbyists have taken over.
There is virtually no protection left from corporate abuse.
We have fewer and fewer public services – while military spending just gets more and more out of control.
Our taxes haven't gone down, while corporations pay next to nothing – or get subsidized.
Our national debt continues to go up exponentially.
The technology that would allow us more independence, such as alternative energy generation, has been actively undermined.
And worst of all; our Bill of Rights has essentially been ignored.
While Bush Jr. goes on and on about the threat of terrorism, Mother Jones magazine has estimated that 100,000 premature deaths can be expected from the 42 million tons of additional air pollutants released under his “Clear Skies” plan. We've been duped – and it will cost the well being of many Americans, many livelihoods, and many lives.
Someone once wrote; “None are more hopelessly enslaved, as those who falsely believe they are free.”
The Reagan revolution was actually a counter-revolution. We are less free than ever. Our Government is the least functional it has ever been. And if we don't fix things, now, our Environment will make the Dust Bowl of the Depression look like no more than a sign.
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Can we trust the BLM, the National Park Service, the BIA, the Fish and Wildlife Service, and the USGS? Well... they take orders from the Department of the Interior. And the Department of the Interior (DOI) is having a very serious image problem:
A judge in Idaho blocked new BLM rules loosening restrictions on Federal land that would have violated the Endangered Species Act, National Environmental Policy Act, and The Federal Land Policy and Management Act.
DOI officials have received free golf outings, dinners, hunting trips, and box seats at sporting events from companies they have monitored.
Independent investigator Earl Devaney has testified “Throughout the department, the appearance of preferential treatment in awarding contracts and procurements has come to our attention far too frequently.”
Officials from the Department of Interior have regularly hired on with the very companies they used to regulate. Recently, Jason Peltier went from Deputy Assistant Secretary for Water through the revolving door to hire on with Westland Water District in California. And Susan Ramos, a former Assistant Regional Director at the US Bureau of Reclamation has recently joined him. It may not be a coincidence that politically connected farmers may get a million acre feet of water grants in California.
Julie MacDonald, who was Assistant Secretary of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks, had to quit in disgrace for her callus disregard for numerous species eligible for the Endangered Species Act. However, her case was just one of many.
Since Dirk Kempthorne has become Secretary of the Interior, not one species has been added to the Endangered Species list – although the US Fish and Wildlife Service has classified 279 species as candidates – and two species have already gone extinct without ever making it to the list.
The highly publicized Jack Abramoff lobbyist scandal had involved buying influence from the Department of Interior.
A audit has found that the National Park Service has for decades allowed members-only beach, yacht, and sports clubs to monopolize public lands.
A jury found Kerr-McGee had underpaid $7.5 million in royalties in a case the Department of Interior claimed had no merit. And the Department of Defense was overcharged tens of millions of dollars in procurement operations involving the DOI.
When it comes to the water grab and the coal-fired power plants, can we trust the USGS BARCAS study and BLM oversight?
We can trust these Government Agencies to do what they're told.
Can we trust the Department of Interior?
We can trust them to do what they can get away with.
It was the Department of the Interior that ordered the National Park Service, the Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Land Management, and the Bureau of Indian Affairs to stand down on protests to the Southern Nevada Water Authority water applications for Spring Valley water – on the day before the water hearings started. There has still been no reasonable explanation given for this act. All that the DOI has basically told us is that they have made other arrangements.
No. We can't trust the Department of Interior.
We should trust our common sense.
And exporting water from the desert just doesn't make sense.
Friday, September 14, 2007
Launce Rake, from PLAN (Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada), has informed me that; Hurricane Humberto (now tropical storm) shocked the meteorological community with its extremely rapid development, from a minor low-pressure system on the gulf to a hurricane in less than 48 hours. Verbatim from the Federal NOAA discussion today: “To put this development in perspective... no tropical cyclone in the historical record has ever reached this intensity at a faster rate near landfall. It would be nice to know... someday... why this happened.”
Launce has an exceptional blog worth checking out - rakesgreenvegas
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
There may be those of you who are wondering where I got a couple of numbers I've been using. There also may be many of you who trust me and don't really care to check my math. For those of you who are math averse, you may want to read a different entry.
For those of you who wouldn't mind helping me by checking my math, read on.
LS Power has informed us that they intend to burn 7 million tons of coal a year in the White Pine Energy Associates plant.
Sierra Pacific has informed that they intend to burn 8 million tons of coal a year in the Ely Energy Center plant.
7,000,000 tons/year + 8,000,000 tons/year = 15,000,000 tons/year
The plants are expected to operate between 40 and 60 years (although they could operate up to 75 years). I will assume a conservative 50 years.
15,000,000 tons/year x 50 years = 750,000,000 tons of coal burned
In the next 50 years, these two coal plants will burn 750 MILLION TONS of coal.
carbon atomic weight is 12
oxygen atomic weight is 16
CO2 molecular weight = 12 + 16 + 16 = 44
the ratio atomic weights of carbon and CO2 = 44/12 = 3.66
since coal is primarily carbon, but not purely carbon, I will round down the ratio to: 3 to 3.5
750,000,000 tons of C x 3 tons CO2/tons of C = 2,000,000,000 tons of CO2
750,000,000 tons of C x 3.5 tons of CO2/tons of C = 2,600,000,000 tons of CO2
In the next 50 years, these two coal-burners will emit over TWO BILLION TONS of Carbon Dioxide.
The density of carbon dioxide is 1.977 grams/liter
and conversion factors:
there are 454 grams/pound
there are 0.0353 cubic feet/liter
the volume of CO2 is 1/1.977 grams/liter = 0.506 liters/gram
0.506 liters/gram x 454 grams/pound = 229.7 liters/pound
229.7 liters/lb x 0.0353 cubic feet/liter = 8.109 cubic feet/pound
8.109 cubic feet/pound x 2000 pounds/ton = 16,218 cubic feet/ton
16,218 cubic feet/ton x 2,000,000,000 tons =
3.244 x 1013 cubic feet
the cube root of 3.244 x 1013 cubic feet is 31,891 feet
31,891 feet / 5280 feet/mile = 6 miles
If the total Carbon Dioxide emissions from the two coal-fired power plants planned for White Pine County, Nevada were evenly distributed at one atmospheric pressure, it would fill a square box 6 miles a side!
(And if a higher proportion of carbon in the coal is estimated – along with a 75 year operating life; the box would be over 11 miles a side.)
Thursday, August 30, 2007
I had the pleasure of meeting Senate Majority Leader – Senator Harry Reid at a meeting in Ely a few days ago. It was in inspiration to witness for myself that there really are members of Congress with a conscience.
I've met a few politicians in my life. Most of them have very similar personality traits. Most of them seem outgoing, a little too friendly, and well... you never know for sure whether to believe them or not. When I met Governor Jim Gibbons a month ago, I wasn't surprised. Call it instinct, but I knew he was a politician.
Not that Senator Harry Reid isn't a politician, just not the kind I expected. He seems a bit shy. He never seemed “used car salesman” friendly. And he didn't mince words when he disagreed with you.
As an example; one of the people at the meeting wasn't happy about Reid's stance on the coal-fired power plants. As the man was elaborating on how much cleaner coal is than back in the days of the Kennecott plant (his numbers were incorrect, by the way), well... Harry interrupted him with the comment; “If they're telling you that, they're lying to you.” I couldn't have been more impressed. That's exactly what I would have told him.
What impressed me most was how Senator Harry Reid explained himself. It truly sounded like this man believed in what he was doing. Plus, he was smart as a tack – smart enough to make the best decisions and have the arguments to back them up.
Before this meeting, I suspected that Mr. Reid might have “conspired” with his sons on the SNWA water grab. I don't think that anymore. Senator Reid is a very busy man. With having to deal with the “war,” our teetering economy, and dirty Republican political tactics every day – Nevada issues likely have often taken a back seat. Consequently, he may have trusted his sons to give him information about the water grab. Of course, one son is on the Board of SNWA, and I believe another son is an attorney for Vidler (Water). It may very well be that they haven't given him the best information. If so, it is up to us to help him understand our side of the story.
Senator Harry Reid will legislate with his conscience. We've seen it happen with the coal-fired carpetbaggers. If he understands that there are better options than turning our homeland into a giant dust-bowl, don't be surprised if he supports a rational solution – and there is a rational solution. A combination of conservation, offshore desalination, and the development and use of crops that use less water (in California) could go a long way before Southern Nevada actually needs Great Basin water.
Monday, August 27, 2007
I wrote this letter to the Ely Times as a reply to the Editor's comments that bordered on accusing me of being a paranoid follower of conspiracy theories. Of course, that's to be expected from the mainstream press. When you can't beat the message, attack the messenger. That's OK though. He prints my letters, and I help him sell newspapers. I've added links (that were not in the newspaper article) for you to further study my insights. The Letter:
I apologize. I was out of line to imply that The Ely Times “As We See It” column was written by ghost writers from out of town. You may recall, however, I only asked if that were the case. Plainly, one wouldn't have to be too paranoid to suspect something – when these editorials haven't been signed. Thank you for reassuring us that the WE in these editorials are you. You're good writers. Be proud of your work. Sign it.
And yes, it may seem that I “believe” quite a few conspiracy theories. Actually, I'd like to think of it as I've come to logical conclusions based upon a preponderance of evidence – and I believe there is a better way. So, here are a few “conspiracy theories” I feel warrant attention:
Big corporate retailers, like Wal Mart, have been conspiring to run mom-and-pop businesses out of existence all across America. The only reason Ely has been spared so far is because we're such a small, remote town.
Credit companies have conspired to keep us in debt for life. In 2006, the five biggest credit card companies made $8.5 million in congressional campaign contributions.
The coal industry has been conspiring to force liquefied coal on us – at taxpayers expense. There is already a “factory” in Missouri that can turn almost anything with carbon in it into fuel oil. Thats right, we already have the technology to turn household waste, plastic, even sewage into fuel oil. Why bother with mining and shipping coal, when we can utilize our dumps?
The fossil fuel industry has been conspiring to suppress alternative energy ever since Bush senior became vice president in 1980. At times, counter-intuitively, subsidies for fossil fuels have been hundreds of times those for wind and solar energy.
The power companies, auto industry, and fossil fuel industry have conspired to play down global warming in the mass media. Advertising millions have a lot of influence. Legitimate science journals are unanimously concerned about global warming pollution. And a man just swam at the North Pole! That's unheard of!
The handful of corporations who own most of mass media have conspired to promote only those reporters who recite corporate propaganda. To my surprise, when I compared Internet news stories from around the world, I've noticed that sometimes more objective reporting comes out of China and Russia! I couldn't believe it! Check for yourself.
SNWA is conspiring to ignore desalination, even though it will likely be cheaper very soon. The motive is simple; the more scarce water is, the more they can charge for it.
Although not a conspiracy; I think there is a trend that the rest of America is pushing to turn Rural Nevada into the nation's toxic dump.
There is a “vast right wing conspiracy.” I prefer to call it the “Coal-ition of the Greedy.”
We too, conspire. We crave quick cash. We fear change. We look the other way. Systematic destruction of the Environment is the elephant in the room we've been ignoring – at out own peril. In a way, we are all complicit in the most dangerous “conspiracy” of our civilization.
Thanks for printing my letters. You're very brave. Maybe it's my conspiratorial nature, but I suspect the people who've insisted you exile me to my blog are somewhat influential.
End of Letter to the Editor.
The last statement was in reference to Kent Harper's comment in the first article; “And I've received quite a few complaints.” In his second commentary, Kent says; “There are no “influential people” trying to silence or exile you.” I guess only un-influential people are complaining.
Sunday, August 26, 2007
I've read that it would take 100,000 years for global warming gases to return to their pre-industrial levels, if we completely stopped producing them - now. As you all know, we've been waiting to see just how bad things get before we get serious about global warming pollutants. That, of course, will be too late.
Is it already too late for us to avoid the worst (that we can imagine so far) of the global warming damage - the melting of the polar ice caps? Maybe not. There is hope. If we continue at our present rate, however, the ice caps will be gone soon. The Arctic Ice cap is the smallest it has ever been in recorded history. This video shows Arctic Ice cap melting; to today, and the likely progression to 2050.
This projection was made by UCAR, who also point out that extensive wildfires are contributing massive amounts of pollutants into the air. Of course, some of these pollutants are global warming gases - which means we've incited nature to even further warm the planet. This is happening. The only real question is whether we have pushed this beyond the point of no return. Yet, our bureaucrats are still ignoring the obvious. Check to see if you find Global warming induced wildfires in the Draft Environmental Impact Statements of any coal-fired power plants.
While you're checking. Why don't you check to see if any of these Environmental Impact Statements mention hurricanes. Hurricane Dean was the third most powerful Atlantic Hurricane in recorded history. How many times do these things have to happen before we admit that they're more than just coincidences?
We are already seeing the first signs of Global warming - and they are so frightening that we don't want to believe this could be happening. Call it denial. We don't want to believe that this could be it. The worst thing that could be happening is that we may have already started in motion the extinction of humanity... And don't expect to be in heaven, safely watching from afar. If we screw things up here, it isn't very likely we'll be welcome any place else.
You'd think that would motivate us.
Friday, August 24, 2007
Unf∞ckingbelievable!!! The coal industry promises us hundreds of years of coal, and it looks like they're already running low. It's easy to tell they've lied to us. The costs, the risks, and the environmental damage are all rising. Here are two examples:
1. The Bush administration intends to weaken environmental laws and give the coal industry the go ahead to destroy even more of the Appalachian mountains. Mountain top removal is the most destructive form of coal mining. And now they're going to make it even worse. The Federal Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement, OSM, is proposing to exempt coal mining wastes from the 1983 regulation known as the Stream Buffer Zone Rule. This is a sign... This is a sign that the easy sites have been mined already, and the coal industry now wants to change the rules so that they can get to the riskier sites. At risk, what remains of the Appalachian mountains. Unbelievable!
2. The Salt Lake Tribune is reporting that coal in Utah is getting harder to mine. The article reports of “difficult geologic conditions” that the Utah mines are having to deal with now. Since the coal in Utah mines is running low, this would mean that coal availability to coal-fired power plants in Nevada could be reduced to mines in Wyoming. The potential for monopoly like control of Nevada's coal supply is possible. At risk, our pocketbooks. At risk, the coal miners, nine of whom recently died trying to get coal from these riskier sites.
Allow me to remind you once again that there will always be plenty of sunlight and wind, and the price will always be free. Moreover, no one will die in sunlight or wind mines.
We have to fix our systems – now. How could our “brightest” minds be making such stupid decisions? Anyone paying any attention can tell that our “leaders” don't care about doing the right things. Hey, this administration has made torture legal, so why not indiscriminate environmental damage? Can you say “sociopaths?”
From 1992 to 2002, 1200 miles of Appalachian streams were buried under mining waste. If you find it utterly repulsive that they want to allow mountain top removal coal mining to get even more environmentally destructive – and you feel that what pathetic laws that do limit mountain top removal should remain intact, please write a comment on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS). Sorry I can't just provide you with a link. They're trying to make this difficult for us. The notice in the Federal Register can be found at www.regulations.gov From there, you have to use their search engine. Scroll down to “Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement.” Then press “Submit.” Both the notice and the proposed rules titles start with “Excess Spoil ...” If you click on the pdf icon for the notice, and then scroll down most of one page, you will then find the title “Excess Spoil Minimization – Stream Buffer Zones Draft Environmental Impact Statement.” From there, you can find out where to send your comments.
Good luck, and don't give up. I know this sounds complicated, but once you know how to do this, you can check up on all the new BS regulations. Maybe next time you'll be informing me what they're up to.