Saturday, April 3, 2010

A Damoclean sword hanging over the Mojave?

But first a little insight into blogging and bloggers for my loyal readers.
You will not believe this but, speaking for myself only, sometimes I get
writers’ block especially if I have been studying about an issue or area
where as you get into it, more facets are revealed, more leads to follow,
kind of like peeling an onion’s layers away.

Up until last night, I had no idea what to post about, and I am sure after
looking over numerous pdf files from the California Energy Commission
site, numbering over 1,000+ pages, maybe my brain went numb. It is akin
to reading through an investment prospectus, chock full of boilerplate
language numbering many pages with one or two pages of really great
information salted away inside, and you have to find it.

Anyway last night, I went to bed wore out, eyes crossing involuntarily
as I tried to get to sleep. In the middle of the night I woke up and had my idea
for this post and a real sense of anxiety about what occurred to me in my
subconscious mind while sleeping.

The other day while playing around with the BLM’s Geocommunicator site,
I came across this map of the Mojave National Preserve area. My search
parameters were areas of solar, wind, transmission, and also energy corridors.
Here is the map that I ended up with:
 image
Orange checkerboard is pending solar,dark blue checkerboard pending wind,blue long line going
across left to right and going up is power transmission line upgrades. This map generated and
provided courtesy of the BLM Geocommunicator website.

If you look carefully you can see that the MNP is almost totally surrounded
by impending projects. This map represents areas where leases have been
applied for, ROW’S, etc and does not guarantee they will be approved or
built, just that some company would like to develop it for renewable energy
potential. It is an area for concern to all desert lovers and people who believe
that wilderness is as necessary for human survival as the air we breath.

One thing that stands out to me like a sore thumb, or better yet, like a dagger
aimed for the heart of the MNP is the area at the right of the map of the
preserve, where the large wind projects have had their applications put in.That
area is located near the Lanfair Valley.

What I am relaying to you now is a true story, witnessed by this blogger several
years ago in the area near Palm Springs, California. As you get near the area
you go through an area of very high winds on I-10, where there appear to be
thousands of wind turbines spinning, creating power. I blogged about this area
not long ago.

These are electro-mechanical devices, very reliable with the newer technology,
but like any other man-made item, they can break down. I witnessed such a
breakdown one night on my way home to Morongo Valley. I observed an
older type wind turbine, like the one in the following picture catch fire
and burn for several minutes, dripping fire to the ground.
Luckily, the ground
not catch fire. I observed this from Highway 62 and at that time I did not have a
cell phone to call it in. I watched for several minutes, from a distance, after the
fire stopped dripping out, to see if there was any ground fire beginning, thank
the Lord, nothing else caught.
IMG_0111
Above photo is like the one I saw on fire, the older type technology.

Here is the point. This year had more rain than usual in the desert, and the
Mojave desert has also been over-run in places with non-native grasses,
which by summer will be totally dried out and capable of starting a runaway,
out of control fire situation, in a matter of minutes. You may recall, I believe in 2005,
there were lightning strikes that ignited fires that ended up burning at least
70,000+ acres in the MNP, that was the Hackberry Fire. Chris Clarke, wrote
eloquently about this over at Coyote Crossing, You have to see the devastation
to believe it. At one point, the fire advanced 5 miles in a matter of minutes, I
read. Incredible! Look at this photograph, notice all the dried plant life, just
imagine how fast this would blaze up if a spark landed on the dried grass.
archivecd19 022

Thousands and thousands of desert acres in the Mojave and MNP will be covered
like this by summer. It is bad enough to deal with the lightning strikes and careless
campfires, just wait until they build these new wind turbines, solar farms, and the
extra transmission capacity that will be required. It seems every summer that passes
brings a worse fire season.

Call it global warming or climate change, whatever, the fact is these non-native grasses
are spreading through the Mojave and other deserts at a truly alarming rate, and
at this point, there is little that can be done to stop their spread. This is something
I feel should be considered carefully as the CEC and BLM rush through these
applications for licensing. All it will take is one flame, and that can set off a conflagration
of almost biblical proportions.

If you think I am kidding, look it up. Check out the Hackberry Fire in the MNP. You
will be alarmed.
 Google “Hackberry Fire” and you will find photographs of the fire
damaged areas. One of these days when I get time to clean out my old laptop, I’ll
amend this post and add several fire damage photos that I took by Cedar Canyon
Rd in the MNP shortly after the fire.

I will go out on a limb here folks. Remember that you heard it here on the backporch.
One future day, without fail, there will be a monster fire in the Mojave or the MNP,
and it will be traced back to one of these new or existing renewable energy items,
either a turbine will catch fire, or a power line will arc, I am as sure of this as I am
the sun will come up in the east tomorrow.

We talked about it here folks. How do feel about this? Perhaps you think I have
finally gone off the reservation. We are waiting to hear from you.

A special note to those readers who haven’t commented. It is easy, all you have to
do is click on the small word comments and you’re in. Granted, I moderate the
comments, but that is only to keep the trolls from taking over this site, which is ours.
I look forward to reading your comments on this or other posts in the future.

I hope all of you have a safe Easter holiday, vaya con dios.

Morongobill


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