Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The CEC Staff’s Ridgecrest solar recommendation

It has taken a while but finally my eyes have uncrossed. I just finished
going through the 5 pdf files that are available online making up the
staffs’ recommendation, dealing with everything from hazardous waste
disposal to water requirements for the original project site, to siting
alternatives, and to the endangered species habitat to be destroyed by
the project- wow!

I think I had better not quit my day job, reading this much boiler plate
is real work, much tougher than driving around circles at Disneyland.

Don’t get the wrong idea, I did not read all 1,500 pages or so, but I did
skim over every paragraph of those pages. In actuality, I probably
read 200 of the pages or so, every word. I also was very impressed
with the tables, illustrations, maps, and the artist renderings of site
views from the different KOP locations, which helped put things in perspective,
as in actual area photographs with the proposed plant superimposed onto

In a nutshell, the staff concluded that the original site, north and south
alternatives, and final site pose too much danger to the endangered desert
tortoise and mojave ground squirrel, including to the species themselves
and the habitat, to be permitted to go through. And even with a 5:1 ratio
of habitat mitigation, it would not help as the circumstances of this habitat
are such that it is irreplaceable under any conditions, especially
regarding the MGS, due to the fact that no other site offers the connectivity
between the populated locations.

The staff report also pointed out the very high number of DT’s(9.8)per
square kilometer, among the highest in the west Mojave and that
this is a valuable genetic pool, especially considering if climactic
warming occurs, due to the higher elevation here that these individuals
have adapted to.

Also in the report, desert kit foxes and badgers were also noted in the
project area or nearby, and that this project would have a negative impact
on those species as well.

All in all, a devastating blow to the chances this specific location will be
approved in the end, but you never know how these things will play out,
I just wish they had made this kind of recommendation regarding BrightSource
Ivanpah :-(

One thing I noted in the report was the way they decided against using Garlock
as the alternative. The Garlock site which is on private, mostly depleted farm
land, in my opinion was a worthy alternative. But there appeared to be a lot of
concern over flood potential, among others, so it was never seriously thought
by the staff to be picked over the Ridgecrest location.

Now my fervent hope is that the CEC will turn down this project and declare the
area not suitable for solar siting, and that the status quo will remain, and that
the star parties can continue without any more interruptions for the next 100
years or so.

Only time will tell how it all will work out. What are your thoughts on all this? Care
to share them with the rest of us out here on the backporch? We’d love to hear
from you.

Look forward to hearing from you.


Monday, March 29, 2010

A little bit of good news for our blog and some for the west Mojave

First let me say how honored I feel to have our little blog mentioned
on the Best Green Blogs and on the Nature Blog Network. Thanks
to you, my readers, for your comments and encouragement, I’ll keep
posting and hopefully you will keep on visiting here on the backporch.

Now for the really big news of the day, Shaun over at the
Mojave Desert Blog is reporting that the CEC staff is
recommending against the Ridgecrest Solar project!

This is almost impossible for me to believe as it seems lately that most of the news
lately seems negative to say the least, but looking at it as announced, the decision
does make sense. The decision appears to be based mainly on the potential
danger to the animal habitat, it’s importance as a wildlife corridor, and that an important
population of desert tortoises would be greatly impacted.

I am downloading the staff report and will comment further in a day or so.

A very interesting day all around.



Sunday, March 28, 2010

At long last, the creosote ring and tortoise burrow videos!

This is a followup to my 2 part post about my hike to the BrightSource Ivanpah
#2 and #3 sites on March 24, 2010.

#18 I find a desert tortoise burrow next to a creosote growth ring.

#28 This is where I discover the desert tortoise condominium complex.

#30 I find a large barrel cactus growing in a creosote growth ring.

It has been a few days since I made this hike. Enough time has passed
to heal most of my leg and foot stiffness and I am ready to start thinking
about the next challenge.

Next time I believe I will look at a renewable energy site that is closer to the
freeway with a lot less cross-country hiking involved.

I have such a site in mind.

But it will have to wait for a while, at least until I can buy another set of hiking
boots or shoes, the ones I wore to stateline have almost given up the ghost!

Folks, the next is hard for me to admit. I don’t think I can make another big hike
under the same conditions as the BrightSource Ivanpah required. I really came close
to having to call for help, thank the Lord, there was cell reception and that I made it
back to my car. If I do, I will not do it alone. It is fun to do these but it’s time to face
the fact that I am 55 and a little out of shape, I may have to leave the cross-country
hiking to the younger set, we will see.

Anyway, enough belly aching, I hope you enjoyed the trip report and videos,
perhaps someone has become open to a different view point, like a recent commenter
on my site, we just keep going, pointing out that there are lots of sites closer to
the end user on junk land, that could host these power plants, maybe one day the
message will sink in to the policy makers, and we can relax in our vigilance.

Until that day comes, we will go on here at the backporch and as always we welcome
your comments here, after all this is our community here at this blog, yours and
mine, and we look forward to the visit again in the future.

Vaya con dios, my friends.



View from the Nipton Road exit I blogged about

This video taken after 7 pm I believe, near sundown. I show the locations, as I
understand them, of the 2 solar plants and the airport that will be built in the
north end of the Ivanpah Valley. I also point out the location of tomorrow’s hike,
blogged about as the visit to Ivanpah 2 and 3.


Come see one of my thinking spots in the Mojave National Preserve

This is a place where I stop almost every time I come to the MNP.

This spot is very close to Cima and is an exclusive for my loyal readers.

Just imagine, pulling your camp chair out and putting it under that Joshua Tree,
sipping on an ice cold Sioux City Sarsaparilla from the Nipton Trading Post,
reading Desert Solitaire by Edward Abbey, a cool breeze blowing over you
as it’s about late afternoon or early evening, and just letting your big city woes
just flow away…

It just doesn’t get any better than this sometimes. And I believe only one time over
the years I’ve stopped here, only once a power truck drove by, that’s the only time
I ever saw another primate here.

But I did see an eagle once I believe.

After my stop here, I continued down to the corral area where I filmed that video
and a couple of others, let me see if I can get another of those videos up and

The next video is the followup to the above video.

Hope you enjoy these videos, folks. Stay tuned for the long promised
Nipton Road offramp video!


3 more videos devoted to the plant life at Ivanpah3 area

In these videos I talk a lot about the creosote ring formations I see everywhere
between the metamorphic hills and the smaller hill, and how these took hundreds
of years to grow and expand.

I also come across some really beautiful but very tiny blue flowers that just bloomed
at the Ivanpah3 site.

Here’s the flower video, enjoy!

It seems I may have hit upon the solution to my video encoding woes
and time permitting, perhaps this evening I can get those tortoise
burrow videos done and up on the site.

Until then, check these out and may I suggest if you haven’t seen them, check
out my videos that I posted of my hike to the Teutonia Peak Trail in the MNP.

See you later online.


Saturday, March 27, 2010

Video taken in the Mojave National Preserve on March 23, 2010

I took this the day before my visit to the BrightSource Ivanpah solar site.

Although large in file size, I consider it worth the download. I walk through this
road side corral and wonder about the history here, and during the video tour
I am rocked to my foundations by something I discover there at the site.

In the video, I refer to the O X Ranch, actually I believe it may have been called
the O X Cattle Company, maybe someone can correct me if I’m wrong.

This really is a scenic area as you can see in this 6 minute long video.

I’m actually proud of this video and hope you like it.

Vaya con dios my friends.


Friday, March 26, 2010

Visit to BrightSource Ivanpah 2 and 3 on March 24, 2010 Part 2

Here are a few videos from that day, unfortunately I have some encoding
issues, here they are, warts and all.

This will have to do until I figure out the encoding issue. I never got
the creosote ring videos or the tortoise condo video done and I just
can’t post a 200+ meg file, it’s not worth it for either of us. So I will
keep at it until I figure it out.


Visit to BrightSource Ivanpah 2 and 3 on March 24, 2010, Part 1.

This trip and hike just about did me in, my dear readers. After a day has
passed, I am just now loosening up. But enough bellyaching, just do it,
move on.

As mentioned in my last post, I encountered a herd of wild burros, a total
of eight in all.
ivanpah032410hike 033

When I made it to the left end of the metamorphic hill, my first waypoint, I saw my
first burro, and I ran into the rest of the herd between that point and about halfway
to the small hill by the biological mitigation area. Burros are very interesting, they
watch you from a distance, like the two in the above photo, and they make a loud
noise to try to scare you off. I ignored the challenge, kept walking on my route, and
they turned and trotted off. That happened about three times, the noise they make
really carries across the desert, a loud snort through their nostrils maybe, kind of like
the sound horses make.

In the area between the two sets of hills, I encountered evidence of desert tortoises
as well.
ivanpah032410hike 062

This is just one of several possible desert tortoise burrows that I came
across, that I either photographed or took video of. Actually in one video
I will post, I said this is like a desert tortoise condominium complex!

The area between the two hill complexes hosts a wide variety of plant
life, but what blew me away was the sheer number and varied locations
of creosote circles or rings. From my understanding of this, it means that
these rings have been forming over hundreds of years, possibly. I saw
rings comprised of shorter plants as well as some with creosote as tall as
I am, that was my comment in a video of one such ring. I also encountered
creosote rings with barrel cacti growing also in the ring, as well as other plants,
I even saw a couple of rings that boasted a desert tortoise burrow!

It was a real challenge hiking up the playa between the two sets of hills as it
was uphill all the way. I can’t tell you exactly what the elevation gain was, or
exactly how far apart the hills are but I can guess: 400-500’ and slightly over
a mile, respectively. But the meetup with the burros and burrows and the many
creosote rings and other varied plant life, made the challenge worthwhile.ivanpah032410hike 029

And here’s what it looked like glancing back toward the metamorphic hill, enroute
to the smaller hill, where I did the webcam video posted yesterday.
ivanpah032410hike 032

Look at the many types of plants in the “barren” desert above. And unfortunately,
I also came across mans’ presence on the way up.
ivanpah032410hike 031

That was a helium balloon I believe. After hearing about the “area being spoiled”
per BrightSource Energy, this was one of the very few evidences of man that I
came across, other than a couple of tire tracks in the main wash. Oh yes, I forgot,
a couple of times, I came across something like this:
ivanpah032410hike 008

Note how old that can looks, at least thirty plus years, I’d say. After reading the
BrightSource papers, I was expecting to find junk cars, old abandoned tires, shacks,
junk piles, off-road tire tracks all over. That is not the area I saw, no way. To be
quite honest, I saw more roadside trash in about a quarter mile stretch on a road
in the Mojave National Preserve in a minute, than I did in my hours of hiking here
in my two blogged visits! And the MNP is a protected area, run by the National
Park Service. Yes there is evidence of mining on the hills, but I saw no evidence of
off-road use as alleged by BrightSource, nor was it trash strewn. I say this based on
my crossing of a significant portion of the area destined to be Ivanpah Two and Three.

Once I arrived at my second waypoint, the small hill close to the Biological Mitigation Area,
the first thing I saw flying around was the desert tortoise’s mortal enemy, the raven.
ivanpah032410hike 050

Note the evidence of mining activity on the hill, to the bottom left under the raven.

In the desert, wherever man goes, the raven soon follows. And where desert tortoises
are located, ravens learn early on, to start killing and eating the very young ones by picking through their shells, and pulling out the insides. You can actually see this in a
that was made available recently online. Now after seeing the raven and having seen
tortoise burrows on the way, and knowing this is in an area where a survey discovered
live tortoises a year or so ago, I figured that this area is just prime tortoise habitat.

Once I made it to the smaller hill, I climbed up a little ways, and found a rocky outcrop
to sit down on and I filmed the webcam segment I posted yesterday. I was very close to
the BMA, it started just beyond the end of the hill, but folks, as I stated in my video, I
just didn’t have the strength to explore the area. After resting a short while, I regretfully
starting hiking downhill toward the morongomobile, which was about two miles or so
in the distance. I am very disappointed that I didn’t get to explore the BMA, but the fact
is I almost didn’t make it back to my car. About a third of a mile from my car, I hit the wall
as they say, and I literally had to pick up my left leg with my arms a couple of times and
help it move- it was a close call, if it had been in the summer heat, I probably would
not have made it.

But make it, I did and even though the legs are still a little stiff, I AM SO GLAD THAT
I DID THIS HIKE. The feeling of accomplishment, of not giving up, of seeing this
wonderful enormously varied ecosystem, the memories gained, will last me a lifetime.
And even if we lose the battle to save this place, I know that I saw it, experienced it
first hand, on its’ own terms, and have the knowledge now to at least be able to
point out any obvious lies or distortions that might come from the projects’ backers.

I can say with some authority that contrary to what the other side says, this
area is not despoiled, it is virtually untouched by man, I walked for miles across
the area to be set aside for Ivanpah 2 and 3, and except for the balloon and an
odd can or two, many years old, the area seemed wild and even lacking
footprints. As I have stated before, there are literally tons of hoofprints
however, and other signs of life, as well as a broad diversity of plant and
animal life across the area.

One thing that really struck me as I sat on that hillside and looked out from one side of
the immediate area around the hill, and in front all the way down that great distance
to the metamorphic hills, and then to the right, extending all the way over a mile to
where I parked my car, and then another mile farther, all this vast expanse of just
awesome desert views and terrain was to be scraped clean of all plant and
animals, and to be graded and leveled, and to covered with over one hundred
thousand heliostat mirror arrays. You really haven’t a clue as to the immensity
of what is planned for this area, unspoiled for thousands of years,millions, until
you have walked it as I have, and stood atop the hills and looked out, I just
can’t get across to you, just how gigantic an area destined for this project
really is, or just how beautiful it was to see a barrel cactus entwined with the
creosote- it just isn’t quantifiable or easily explained.

As much as I have blogged about this, the sheer grandeur of the area, and the real
sense of impending loss only truly started sinking in, when I sat down on that
rocky hillside yesterday and peered out at the never ending vista laid out before me.
I just hope others like those of you reading these words, can find a way to see it,
and experience it before it’s too late.

The final part to this report will be several videos that I made and hope to have shrunk down and posted to my Youtube channel, and then embedded in my report here, in
a couple of days, at least that is my hope.

As always, vaya con dios, my friends and feel free to comment on this or other
posts, your comments are always welcomed here on the backporch.


ivanpah032410hike 056

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Barely made it back from BrightSource Ivanpah!

My apologies folks, I promised a trip report today but I barely made it
back, first to my car, as my legs and left foot were about to give out,
and I nodded off a couple of times during the 4+ hour drive back to
the OC, and my video conversion software seems to have bit the dust!

However, here are some quick stats: I had close encounters with 8 wild
burros and have the video, and I saw at least 7 or 8 desert tortoise burrows,
including a really big one inside the edge of a creosote ring close to where
I parked my car. I’d say within a quarter mile of the car. Amazing!

I hope I don’t lose all of my readers by posting  this video of me talking
about the hike. Robert Redford, I am not. I’m just an average looking, possibly
one or two ounce overweight bus driver!

I will start writing the trip report tomorrow and will hope that I can get the file
shrinking video software going, I used up my whole memory card with videos.

Also yesterday on my way up, I went back to Sunrise Rock in the Mojave National
Preserve to refilm that video plus I took some great footage at an old western
cattle corral, I really got a big surprise there.

Well I’m taking the morongomobile home and hitting the sack, I am totally wore
out, see you later.


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Ivanpah is calling…..

And that means, yes, I am heading backup this afternoon to Stateline and the
BrightSource Ivanpah solar farm site!

The plan is evolving but it appears I’ll get there too late to do anything today
but work on my finances at the Goldstrike Hotel and Casino, at the video poker
department. Later on, after working on my nutritional needs at the all you can eat
buffet, I’ll waddle up to my room and review the maps again for the hike tomorrow.
On second thought, I’ll review the maps first, then start on the other.

The goal is to, this time for sure, make it to the proposed biological mitigation
area and take a first hand look, and also to take photographs and videos again,
for your perusal. Last time was a valuable learning experience and I believe I’ll
do a better job on the videos at least, this trip.image

Here is a link to the article that got me to jump into the morongomobile and
head out across the desert:

I’ll get a “Big Dog” and a Sioux City Sarsaparilla for you while I’m up there.

Above image is from the BrightSource Biological mitigation proposal on file with the California Energy Commission, unfortunately my blogging software attached my copyright
information, all rights to the above image belong to CH2MHILL and BrightSource.


A minor irritant and some real good news

Just got through submitting my little blog to the Best Green Blogs
directory. I am hoping this will go through with no hitch. The benefit
for joining is the increased exposure of this blog to the web, which
should benefit our message, which is the danger facing the Mojave
area due to the planned industrialization of the area. The more people hearing
the message, the better. Please consider giving out this blog’s link
to your friends, relatives, etc and ask them to visit the backporch!

While filling out their form and answering questions and providing links,
I discovered that Google was still serving up ads on my RSS feed, my
apologies for that foulup, they have been removed just a moment ago when
I discovered they were still there.

Don’t want to bore you readers with all the details but let me just say that
the writing is easy, but as they say the devil is in the details! I’m new at
this, one day I’ll be walking instead of crawling, and lookout then!


Monday, March 22, 2010

Missed opportunity today to talk with Ken Salazar

Yesterday while driving a bus in circles from Disneyland to the
parking lots, and listening to public radio, I discovered that the
Interior Secretary, Ken Salazar, was to be a guest on Patt Mor-
rison’s radio show today at 1300. The information was secured
in my iron-clad memory and I drove in circles until 1 o’clock in the

Waking up around 1000, I, of course, forgot all about it. This after-
noon about 1315, channel surfing on the radio, I came across her
show and panicked, thinking I’d missed the interview. In a few min-
utes, his segment began.

In a nutshell, it was just an interview with Patt asking questions and
the energy secretary answering and expounding a little on some points.
Definitely a softball interview, no tough questions, and with the most
absurd, laughable extended comment about balancing the habitats
with economic development. Absolutely no mention of the huge num-
ber of renewable energy projects slated for building in the Mojave on
prime plant and animal habitat and the environmental costs to come.

What he needed was to be asked tough questions. Evidently he’s in Cali-
fornia for two days touring energy projects with the governator, I believe
he was calling in to the show from Hinkley. The missed opportunity I
allude to in the post title was I should have emailed Ms. Morrisson who
seems open to environmental issues and asked that he take listener calls,
which by the way, he didn’t, or suggested a couple of things to
ask him regarding BrightSource or other projects in the works.
But since this blogger can’t seem to get himself together at times,
the time has passed!

I found it very interesting that the Commissioner for Social Security was also
on her show and he took listener calls. Just like I said in a previous post,
the policy makers are already drumming up the news cycle, no doubt about

As an aside, and mentioning this only to make a feeble excuse for blowing
this, we did find out the last couple of days that we have lost the Disney
account and it appears several drivers and maybe yours truly, may have to
make up signs saying “will drive a bus for food”, that’s my excuse and I
am sticking to it! It would certainly allow more time for blogging and research,
that’s for sure.

Wow, this seems to be turning into some sort of free-flowing stream of thought
situation here. I just was thinking while writing these words, just how much
freer I feel not having to worry about ad placement or visitor counts or click through
percentages or bounce rates, etc. As Clapton sang for Cream, "I FEEL FREE”.
Just wanted you guys and gals out there in cyberspace reading these scribbles
to know that.

Until we meet again, vaya con dios, my friends and I just want you to know how
much your comments mean to this old blogger, please comment any time as your
thoughts are always welcomed out here on the backporch.



Sunday, March 21, 2010

A “must read blog post” directly relating to Mojave issues faced today

I just discovered this post today from one of my favorite blogs, Mojave Desert Blog,
and I just had to share it with my readers.

This article outlines the issues facing the Mojave Desert and how we can get involved
in the process. This I consider a “must read” for anyone concerned about
the fate of “our Mojave Desert.”

As I mentioned in the comment I posted on the Mojave Desert Blog post, this information
would have been an invaluable aid to me when starting up this blog you are reading
at this moment.

I would like to send out a big thank you to Shaun, the author of the Mojave Desert
Blog, for this article and the so many others he has written advocating on behalf of
our Mojave Desert and I strongly recommend that you add his site to your list of favorites
and that you follow his site daily as I do.

And that you check out the previous articles which evidently I, to my chagrin, did
not do thoroughly enough :-(

Here is the link folks:


Fascinating new rooftop solar technology

Here are several links to new technology now in the research
and development stage at corporations ranging from IBM to
Broadband Solar. These links were found in about ten minutes
of web surfing.

If just one of these technologies came to market, for example, IBM’s
developing solar cells made using copper, zinc, tin, and sulfur, common
materials readily available, it would be a viable alternative to silicon-based
products that dominate the market now and it is a thin-film product.

Other new advances being made in the thin-silicon film solar pv
systems include Broadband Solar which is using amorphous silicon salted
with nanoscale metallic particles and could be applied in thin-film plants
using their existing equipment.

Both of these new technologies will be available for licensing from these
companies, evidently they will only do the r&d and let others build the

This next development I find truly amazing. The technology was developed
the Sandia National Laboratories and has unbelievable, revolutionary
potential. In a nutshell, 100 times less silicon generates the
same amount of electricity!
This is mind-boggling, defies belief almost,
but I,for one, trust the Sandia folks, and believe them. This technology has
been called “snow flake solar cells".

Just think about this. Using this technology, you could these new pv panels virtually anywhere, rooftops could output power on a larger scale, and with the possibilities
of inverters being built in, could produce ac power output, the unused portion of which
could be put into the national power grid. If this technology won out, and was
rolled out on every rooftop across the land, there would be absolutely no need
to build any of the 100 or so renewable energy projects slated for building,
that’s just in the Mojave Desert alone, and not counting others on federal
land all across the United States.

This article will be the top link for your perusal.

These are exciting times in the renewable energy field, and I am referring to
distributed power generation or HOME POWER. And this information, readily
available via the internet, is there for all to see, I was not asked to pay for this
information, nor was a password or membership required for any of the sites.
If we can get this news, the policymakers can. I’d guess they saw it before me,
long before. But it was put aside as the decision has already been made to
work with the century old utility company cabal, empowering them and not us.

Check these articles out folks. And follow the links in the stories for more detailed
info. To be frank here, some of these articles are way over my head technically.
But extrapolating out, I can really see a changed future for our power usages
where we generate our own at a reasonable price, not dependent on the old
guard utility firms, and possibly sell our excess power to them at a profit.

The ramifications for the Mojave and other wild places is obvious, they would
be saved from future industrialization, at least for power generation purposes.
Newer smaller scale technology such as this, perhaps might even be applied
for large scale power production, which could then occur closer to where it is
needed, on used up or depleted farm or industrial use land.

This is a potential scenario envisioned out here on the backporch. How do you
feel about it? Could it work? Am I grabbing at straws here or am I on to something?

Your comments are welcomed here about this issue or in response to any of my
posts. When you comment, your voice is heard, and in effect, you become part
of this little community out here on a backporch in California, no matter where
you are located. And please consider becoming a follower, it’s easy to do and
it would be my honor to have each and everyone of you joining me here.

We look forward to hearing from you. Now here are those links:

This last link is a bonus you don’t want to miss!

These should keep you busy for awhile on your Sunday, but don’t forget some
other reading today, hint, King James Version ;-)

Vaya con dios, my friends.



Saturday, March 20, 2010

This is exactly what I was talking about

I will post the link at the bottom of the post for your perusal.

This article quotes the poll results of 200 people questioned by
a polling firm, 75% of which support solar energy production
on public lands.

Considering who probably paid for the poll, I’m surprised there
wasn’t 90% or more approval.

This is part of a beginning drumbeat of “news” designed to get
people and voters moving in the “right” direction, which is the
direction the opinion makers and industry and government officials
want, which is blind support for solar projects on government land.
After all it is your land, taxpayers, shouldn’t this good for nothing,
raw desert scrub be used for a productive purpose? It’ll help us
wean ourselves off foreign oil,etc. ad nauseum.

The article goes on to tout growing 100,000 American jobs with the
new technology as well as equaling the playing field with other, in
most case, cheaper forms of energy.

I can see ‘em now wrapping themselves in the American flag, support
solar energy in the desert, baby- it’s the American way! Rugged individualism,
the Marlboro man images, the works- you wait, the tv campaign is coming,
and you heard it here on the backporch.

Every time this comes up, we need to hit back hard. Period.

It worked for Lee Atwater, it’ll work for us.

It’s scraping the desert bare, killing everything in its path, and it will be
coming soon to a desert vista you care about.

Unless we get it together and fight back.

Here’s the link:



What if we could nip this “renewable energy bubble” right in the bud?

Not what you expected to talk about this morning out on the backporch,
I’m sure you’d agree.

I’ve been thinking about this for sometime and a couple of news tidbits
I discovered made me think this idea might be possible, and might even
gain some traction if people actually thought about it, in a simple way,
not via some fancy spread sheet or computer math model concocted by
some graduate student at MIT or Stanford.

First, considering that Alan Greenspan, former head of the WORLDS MOST
, didn’t realize a bubble was building up, getting
frothier and frothier, with all the spreadsheets and math models available
at his command, in the housing market, it stands to reason that the fed BLM
and DOE and Department of the Interior wouldn’t see one forming either.

Consider this quote(and I will provide a link at the end of this post)-"They will be the most risky tranche of debt. But without loan guarantees, no one is lending." What
the quote pertains to is the renewable energy firms,in this case BrightSource,
looking for financing in the capital markets. Remember that word, tranche?
That’s french for slice, as in packaging up securities and slicing them up to
sell to investors worldwide.

In case memory fails you, I, of course, am referring to the “came out of
nowhere per the talking heads” housing bubble, where the absolute crappiest
loans with no income or credit verification,etc were packaged together in a
steaming, smelly, road apple bundle, then were tranched and repackaged
in new portfolios of mortgaged backed securities or collateralized debt
obligations,these were run by the bond rating services, given the absolute highest debt
rating, as good as the U.S. government’s, then were sold by Wall Street’s
top investment banks around the world to everyone from central banks to small
villages in Finland, resulting a near collapse of the world financial system.

This of course, resulted in financial ruin for some and huge bonuses for others.

I fear the same old wall street story is about to happen again. The same old
two step music is starting up again.

BrightSource has already got their 1.37 BILLION DOLLAR loan guarantee from
the DOE and others will get theirs shortly. They can’t get the money on the
capital markets without them, any fool can do the math, and realize that building
hundreds of miles out in the middle of nowhere, and producing power at a cost
at least twice that of a conventional power plant, even an old bus driver like me
can see the handwriting on the wall- LOSER!

But when you rush through the permitting and approval process, with all state
and federal agencies working at lightspeed compared to their usual glacial speed,
with everyone from Obama on down to the governator cheerleading the process-
it just seems to me that the projects are moving too far and too fast, that any
issues like environmental concerns are getting glossed over in the rush to grab
hold of the gravy train before it leaves the station.

So everyone rushes in to grab the Obama Bucks before Washington comes to its’
senses or the next shoe falls due to this economic slowdown and the money dries up,
an unseemly sight for sure. Now, I know the opinion makers want these projects
to startup by the deadline for fed funds to kick in, once the dough’s coming through
the pipeline, it’s hard to shut off the spigot, especially since it’s for “clean, renewable
. Here’s where it’s “bubble popping” time.

I may be wrong but it seems to me that at this point the stringent NEPA rules
and laws should kick in. And I think those officials responsible, with help from
environmental groups and intervenors, need to take a cold, hard, “eagle eye”
looks at these proposals to
ensure the will and intent of Congress
is followed by the executive branch and state administrative
agencies charged with the startup process for these
proposals, that the environmental laws be carried out in law and spirit,
keeping that will and intent in mind, ensuring said compliance through the
co-equal judicial branch of government if necessary.

While said review is being undertaken, all efforts should be made to get the public
involved in this process, by any means. I have seen through just this small, insignificant
blog, how people can be made aware of a developing situation. Just imagine, an army
of bloggers, open to the suggestion that we shouldn’t pave over the Mojave just
so the bureaucrats can meet some self- imposed deadline, or Wall Street can ruin
us again with another self inflated bubble. I am certain with the talented writing
I’ve read and come across so far, there is enough creative will and ability,
enough right thinking people out there ready and willing to sacrifice some
time, money, and effort to get the process going!

My goal would be harnessing this energy with the goal of killing the BrightSource
project, let it be still born. It’s the project farthest along the path, if it’s stopped, the
froth won’t even have any time to form on the glass, the glass will be broke and
the liquid drying up in the glare of that hot desert sun.

And maybe then, when the momentum on the other side has been slowed or
stopped, then, finally the other side might be amenable, more reasonable about
the prospects for distributed home power.

Here are a couple of links for your viewing:

I leave you with this photo for an obvious reason my friends. We need to wrap
ourselves in this fabric, I assure you the other side will.
archivecd18 200

Vaya con dios, my friends and fellow desert lovers. You will
need his strength and guidance during the struggle to come.

Always remember, that your comments are welcomed out
here on the backporch, and are very, very important to me personally.
Thanks to your comments, I feel like I am not alone and that I have
people standing at my shoulder, we together, trust me, can be a
formidable foe to those who intend to destroy your beautiful
Mojave Desert.


Friday, March 19, 2010

Save the Ivanpah Valley!

Morning folks! I’m glad you stopped by, let me grab you a
chair, got some hot joe percolating, let’s have ourselves a
nice visit.

You might have noticed I just got back from a field trip to the
Teutonia Peak/ Cima Dome area of the Mojave National Pre-
serve and the site of the future BrightSource Ivanpah solar
plant at the stateline area at the northern end of the Ivanpah

The hike reports/ field trip notes barely scratch the surface.
There is just an overwhelming amount of photography and
video work that could be done at just those two locations, you
could work there for ages.

As I pointed out through my observations of animal sign, there
obviously are a variety of animal species there, and in numbers
too great to be ignored. Enough different animal and plant species
to employ a small army of biologists and botanists as well as, dang
it my net connection died, the people who study reptile species.

The BrightSource, NextLight Solar South, and the proposed Ivanpah
airport locations are all important, they are located in endangered
species range and habitat, as well as being smack dab in the middle
between different state wilderness areas, adjacent to the MNP and
the Ivanpah DWMA(ACEC) and Piute-ElDorado Valley(ACEC).

What does that mean in layman’s terms? The projects will be built
in areas of contiguous, unfragmented endangered species habitat,
vast, sprawling areas where desert tortoises, burrowing owls, banded
gila monsters to name a few, have lived thousands of years going
about the business of living and surviving the harsh desert conditions.

In the history of those species, there have been challenges. Ranchers
grazing cattle, farmers plowing up the desert, miners digging holes here
and there, gold prospectors, uranium prospectors, you name it the Ivanpah
Valley has seen it!

But never has there been such a threat as the Ivanpah Valley(and the whole
Mojave Desert) faces today with these projects. For example, the BrightSource
solar project plans call for a 50 year lifespan, with an attempt at reclamation
and restoration once the project shuts down. From information I have read
that means a total and permanent loss of high quality and quantity of habitat,
as well as tremendous defragmentation of the habitat, certainly helping along
what appears to be,at least to this observer, the eventual extirpation of
the endangered species in an area crucial to their continued survival.

The northern Ivanpah valley is perfectly located at a junction point between
Tortoise DWMA’s, the MNP, and wilderness and wilderness study areas. It
is the gateway to the MNP and beyond. From reports I have read, desert tortoises
here live at the highest altitude for the species, meaning their dna could be
invaluable to the survival of the species, if in fact, this place heats up even
more in the future!

This beautiful valley is home to a tremendous variety of plant life and biospheres.
Chris Clarke wrote an eloquent plea on his site, Coyote Crossing, requesting
this valley be saved from industrialization, and spoke of the valley as the”Mojave
in microcosm”. I long to visit the “alpine sky-island overlooking the Ivanpah Valley, white firs clinging to the higher slopes of Clark Mountain, directly above the project site.”
That was a real disappointment with my recent trip there. You can read his letter

So what we have on the table are several projects aimed like knives at the throat
of this beautiful valley. All are being fast-tracked, crammed down our throats, with
no real thought it seems to me, about the future consequences for the region or
ourselves. If this beauty vanishes forever, what does it say about us? Once we
scrape the thousands and thousands of acres bare, and start wet-vaccing up
all the desert groundwater which took thousands and thousands of years to build
up underground, the area’s doomed.

I, for one, think it’s a damned shame, an abomination, and hope these
projects are stopped before it’s too late for Ivanpah, and for ourselves and
generations to come.

My friends, I thank you for stopping by the Backporch, hope to see you again,
and of course we welcome your comments about this or other matters pertaining
to the blog or the Mojave, truly one of the most beautiful places in the west.

Vaya con dios.