Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Grand Deal- Bighorn Sheep Herd saved, Lose a few Desert Tortoises!

A bold statement for sure and maybe not fair, but to this old bus
driver, it sure seems that way.

Last year on Thursday, September 17th, BrightSource announced that it was dropping plans to build
a 5,000 acre solar plant in the Broadwell Dry Lake area of Sleeping Beauty Valley, an environmentally
sensitive, pristine area of the Mojave Desert and smack dab in the proposed National Monument area
as envisioned by Senator Diane Feinstein.

This was reported in the Los Angeles Times, see link at the bottom, on September 18, 2009. 

This was welcomed by members of the environmental community and it was even reported in the times
that it was a "welcome surprise". And of course, as scripted, everyone from Sen. Feinstein down to
Elden Hughes, of the Sierra Club, talked about how wonderful this is, great corporate citizens(my paraphrasing), saving a herd of bighorns, etc etc ad-nauseum.

It was also mentioned that BrightSource had quietly stepped away from the project months before.

Folks, you can't tell me people weren't aware of that last fact. This has all the trappings of the scripted,
feel good, stage choreographed political "Kabuki" theatre we have become accustomed to nowadays.

Here's where the "Grand Deal" part kicks in.

Let's say you're BrightSource and you have 2 mega projects proposed and on the table. You know one
will set off a battle royal with powerful politicians and major environmental groups, resulting in much
name calling, law suits, talking heads having to be paid, pr firms having to be paid to massage the erroneous
information zones, you catch my drift.

The other project is located at the Cal-Nevada stateline adjacent to a golf course, a major freeway, several
casinos, and a natural gas peaker plant, and also near a proposed airport development. It also is right next
to a couple of state wilderness areas, and the Mojave National Preserve. Unfortunately, there are at least 25 or more endangered desert tortoises who call the area their home, as well as several very rare plant species,
but heh, we take the good with the bad.

So you draw up plans for a mega facility at Ivanpah, but also, just in case, for fallback, have another plan
ready for "biological mitigation".That way, you will look like you went out of your way, to meet everyone's
concerns and appear to be reasonable.

You're BrightSource, and you have given up a pawn, saving a bighorn sheep herd, on a location that you never had any intention of trying to build on because you can read the tea leaves like everyone
else, and don't want a big PR and court battle, which could possibly derail this whole renewable
energy land rush! 

So you now can carry on with Ivanpah, sure you can scale it back, give up 433 acres on the north end nearest
to the wilderness areas and reduce the number of power towers there from 3 to 1, and reduce the number of
heliostats by 40,000, reduce the grading required,etc etc. With this Biological Mitigation Proposal you
even increase the distance from the northern boundary to the wilderness areas more to allow for more
wildlife corridors.

It's amazing. Now this is how you play chess. You sacrifice a pawn, a pawn you had no intention ever
of using, and gain a crown jewel. Because you know some of the major environmental groups
are sitting on the sidelines, seemingly without a dog in this hunt! Bobby Fischer couldn't have
played the game any better! Alekhyne might have spotted the opening and stopped their attack.

So I think the deal is in place, and the new proposed feds loan guarantees may seal it. Jupiter has aligned
with Mars, Planet X, whatever.

The silence coming from some corners is truly deafening, like
sitting amongst the Joshua Trees on top of Cima Dome, or at
top of Sunrise Rock by the boarded over cross at night, when the traffic stops coming by. But this is not a beautiful silence to be
savored and remembered forever, this silence will leave an acidic
aftertaste, one you won't forget for a long, long time, even after
the last bulldozer and earthmover has quit the area.

And that's the way that I see it out here on the backporch. And I hope events prove me wrong, I
really do. The last thing I want to see when I am coming back from the Nipton General Store
with an ice-cold Sioux City Sarsparilla in my hand is tens of thousands of heliostats glaring in
the distance, and actually on both sides of me, if the other Ivanpah Solar Facility goes through,
and knowing the poor, lost desert tortoises along with some concerned individuals and groups, were the only living beings who had a dog in the hunt,
while folks who should have known better, let the deal go through, either by design or silent

Well so long from the backporch, please drop by again and as always, feel free to leave your comments,
and remember your opinion does count here.

Vaya con dios, my friends.


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