Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Here are a couple of very interesting blogs.

The first blog is a gentleman who lives in the Terlingua, Texas area. Evidently
he lives in a mud(adobe?) house with dirt floors, maybe Taos style. From his
blog, I found a link to a friend of his who now lives on a ranch in the Dakota’s
I believe, check out the wonderful photography on this site, the second site link
is to a photograph which really struck a chord with me.




Who knows what the future holds for this blogger? Terlingua sure has an appeal
to me with those awesome desert vistas. The more bloggers I read from the area,
the more I hear that I like.

Evidently, even way out in the sticks, they can run dsl lines out to you. Check out
this link for the details and photos.


LiveJournal Tags: ,

Sunday, June 27, 2010

The latest from the Ivanpah Solar project courtesy of our tireless friends at Basin and Range Watch!

If our Mojave Desert could talk, I am sure it would be thanking Laura and Kevin and
the other fine folks at Basin and Range Watch for their tireless efforts on its’ behalf.
Evidently they have made yet another trek down to the Ivanpah site to check out the
BrightSource efforts to figure out how to drive the pilings into the ground at the 4,000
acre site which as you readers know is full of ephemeral, flash flood washes. This is
a fact that I am intimately familiar with as well, as those of you who read my trip reports
to this site know. Below is one of the countless ephemeral washes onsite:
ivanpahfieldtrip 006

Unfortunately for BrightSource and Bechtel this site lies downstream from Clark Mountain
and the flash floods rush along carrying rocks and boulders after the rains come, and
these rains will cause floods, no matter if 240,000 heliostatic mirrors are downstream in
the way.

Here is the report about their visit to check on the “piledriving” progress:

For those of you who are new to this site or just want to update or refresh your knowledge,
I suggest you check out these links, also from our friends at Basin and Range Watch:
The above link is to many pages which outline their comments to the final draft report.
This gives a lot of valuable information. Also below is the Ivanpah updates page which
is chockfull of info:

And one of my personal favorites of all the many, many pages of information on their

The above link is entitled”Last spring at Ivanpah?”

Again for those of you new to this site or this issue, you can also check out my trip report

And again that month here:

And here:

I guarantee you, my readers, that if you research all of the above links, especially the
ones from Basin and Range Watch, you will know more about this issue than 99.9% of
the people in the United States, and I am including the policy makers both corporate
and government in that figure, as well as the talking heads you hear, read, and see
in the corporate media.
ivanpah032410hike 032

Enjoy, and go forth in the knowledge that you will know as much or more than most of
your fellow citizens. And please tell a friend, please pass this on, the Ivanpah Valley
and the Mojave Desert sure can use more friends like you.


A blog post I found that you should check out.

Read the latest from Joe Bageant and see if you feel the same about things here in
the land of the Walmarts and the financial and political gurus.


He just flew back to this country after spending 8 months or so living in Mexico.

His commentary on “green solutions” and “sustainable energy” struck a chord with
me. It was interesting also to see that electricity in Mexico  is on “the price you pay escalates with usage”. Just by implementing that one change here in this country
would probably go a long way to cutting demand here, maybe even eliminating the
”need” to build these “renewable energy” plants all over the place.

This is definitely a smart man, very observant, but one, however, who is totally out
of step with what “our betters” think is the “right attitude”.

Keep writing, Joe. Keep pointing out the “idiot”syncrancies of this system we live in
here in Amerika.



Thursday, June 24, 2010

So the Ivanpah Airport may not happen, first of several mega projects to fail?

See the article from the Las Vegas paper here:

And see Chris Clarke’s post at Coyote Crossing from 2008 on what this airport
would destroy:

The newspaper article says the project has been put on hold due to declining passenger
counts at Mccarran Airport and due to planned improvements at that airport as well.

Let me spell out what the article does not say. By the way, this is free analysis from
that great unknown financial and political prognosticator “Morongobill”.

The Las Vegas, Nevada area is in the midst of an economic depression, no ifs, ands,
or buts about it.
It was ground zero for the great American housing boom and bust, virtually leading the nation in foreclosures and empty houses. Unemployment has sky-
rocketed along with homelessness. The construction industry is on life support. Gaming
is suffering as well. If you thought the Vegas slots were tough before, I hear now they are
as “tight as bark on a tree.”

You know when the bottom drops out under you, it’s amazing how you learn to adapt.
All of a sudden, Mccarran airport has a new lease on life. Maybe the old girl has a few
more good years left in her. It’s easier to add on there than to spend $4 BILLION out in
the boondocks.

Now here is something you may not have heard. My understanding is the majority of the
money to build the boondoggle I mean the Ivanpah Airport was to come from Dubai.
Guess what, Dubai’s economy has almost tanked due to real estate investments gone bad
among other things and they can’t go through with this commitment!

This is absolutely fantastic news to this blogger! This means, at least for a few years, the
incredible industrialization of the north Ivanpah Valley won’t happen, at least that caused
by the airport. The Mojave National Preserve won’t be under the flight paths for probably
at least another decade. And it gives us, those who oppose this industrialization, more time
to try to stop it, once and for all.

I am sure if they could, the wildlife such as the desert tortoises would thank us, I seem to
remember Senor Tortuga saying something about it when I met him at the BrightSource
Ivanpah Project site in April of this year ;-) The plants due to be bladed and graded would
thank us to if they could.

As I have said several times on this blog, we who oppose these projects may have an
ally in the capital markets as well. Money and credit seem to have dried up except for
absolutely the best deals, and this isn’t one of them, when you lose your major funder and
at the same time, your economic base is cratering.

So now let me address the grizzled old lions of the environmental movement who are up
in the air on saving the deserts, especially in this area. We can win this battle, baby. We
may be in a stronger position than we think. With the worldwide financial system freezing
up in front of our very noses, maybe these projects aren’t as sure a thing to get done as
was originally thought. You know, if you read Shogun that Lord Toranaga won in the
end after masterfully playing for time.
There is a lesson there for us if we want to
open our eyes, ears, and hearts and minds.

All you need is time to plan your next move, let events play out, and at the exact right time
shut a project down in the court system. Perhaps by the time the case winds through,
financing will have dried up, public support for the renewable energy projects out in
the boonies could dry up especially if you unleashed your PR machine and pointed out
all the good and right reasons for building said projects closer in on abandoned land or
the rooftops, etc etc.

And don’t forget our vaunted federal government that is supposed to offer these loan
guarantees to get the projects built, you know the same old guv’ment that left the
crooks in charge at Minerals Management and now are stuck with the environmental
disaster of our lifetime’s. The same old guv’ment that is now going to allow BP to deep-
water drill in the Arctic if we don’t stop them? WE NEED TO ACT LIKE WE GOT A
PAIR! Comprende? Take our government back from the well-heeled and yes,
take the environmental movement back to the grassroots where it gets its’
heart and soul from.

We need to stop the nonsense now, stop these ridiculous, expensive boon-doggles now and get to the business of solving our own economic woes here
at home and stick our nose back in our own business before someone or
somebody snatches it right off our faces.

All we need is time and to look in the mirror at ourselves.

Then buck it up and get back in the trenches for the next round.

These people really have no idea who they’re messing with if we gather our
resolve and courage.


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Bold move by the president today, and thoughts by this blogger on environmental stewardship and this blog.

And one that may have consequences for the long run.

To this blogger, it seems for a very long time, that our military has
always been first in line for everything- first dibs on the money, the
newest technology, respect from the citizenry, just about everything
you can quantify. I don’t begrudge them that, I am just pointing out
what seems to be obvious to me and quite a few other folks, who
take the time to read and listen to what passes for news these days.

Having been in the U.S. Navy in a previous life, one thing you learn
quickly is to obey orders and if you do make disparaging remarks
about your superior commissioned and non-commissioned officers,
you absolutely do not make those remarks to those who will
then “tell on you” and if they do, the correct course of action
is to deny and obfuscate. While such a strategy may not be
”honorable” at least it might keep you out of the brig or from
scraping out the bilges!

Or from being forced to resign as the only option, other than
a public firing.
Folks, you often hear me talking about arrogance on
these pages. Now let me add, that it helps not to have a “tin ear” if
you plan on making some kind of idiotic comments that may get back
to the bosses. To me, these remarks made by staff and the general,
besides their content, smack of a totally arrogant sense of self,
”my way is the right way, what do those no- clue civilians know
in Washington, and especially our commander-in-chief”.
they obviously didn’t think those remarks would bother anybody or that
they even were insubordination, a cardinal rule you try not to be guilty
of while wearing the uniform, from top to bottom.

People, I have been tough on this president, even saying that “ I am done
with him.” But his action today, bold and decisive, and in keeping with our
civilian control of the military(something I have thought was eroding almost
beyond repair) speaks volumes about the ability of this president to
rise to the occasion when necessary, and the timing absolutely
is perfect, if you look from the context of whether in our souls, we
are in fact going to be a republic or if we will continue on the empire path.

I can’t help but think, how much better things would be if our president became
more engaged on other matters, dear to me and I believe some of my readers,
and I am referring to the responsibility for environmental stewardship. If he had
been more engaged from the “get go” maybe he would have did a more thorough
cleaning at Minerals Management possibly strengthening regulatory oversight
and forcing BP and others to play by the rules, in spirit and fact. Maybe this
disaster in the Gulf of Mexico might not have happened. Maybe he’ll see the light
and forever scrap plans to deep water drill in the Arctic. Who knows how things
might have turned out?

Perhaps he might have been open to the persuasive argument by those who say
why destroy the beautiful southwest deserts when there are plenty of rooftops and
worthless brownfields and other distressed land parcels closer to civilization and
the “end users and consumers” of power, instead of falling for the same old tired
”command and control” arguments from big power and big wind and big solar?

I don’t have the answers but I do see things perhaps from a different perspective
than those near the seats of government. A perspective untainted by exposure to
big money lobbyists and their ilk. And I believe my readers have this same capacity.

Why don’t you take the time out from lurking and participate in the discussion out
here on the backporch? The only requirement imposed by me the moderator is
civility. If I can put myself out there for public comment and/or possible ridicule even,
help me out, join the conversation.

I know I have readers, and I thank you for coming by. I am now asking you to participate,
by commenting and starting a sense of community here. I am not afraid to be criticized,
I confess to just being a bus driver, last night shuttling people from a parking lot
to Disneyland and back. But like most of you, I have done a lot of things in my life,
from having a first job as a cleanup guy in a pulpwood logging operation(I was too
skinny and not strong enough to handle a chain saw :-) to doing shipping and receiving
at IMagnun to working in the oil and gas industry as a gas pump attendant, to being
collector of the month my first month at a major bank, to being promoted to the foreign
currency trading desk at the same bank, only to crash and burn due to “wine, women, and song”--- I am not afraid to put myself out there, knowing that ridicule may result, it’s
okay I can handle it, and now I am asking you, my readership, to help with this insignificant
little backporch blog.

By trusting me with your input and participation, you will help keep me fresh and focused
on this endeavor, which I hope to continue with as long as I can type on these keys,
I just hope we can do it together as it does get lonely here at times.

Thanks for stopping by, hope to hear from you soon.

Vaya con dios my friends.



Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Another Stirling Suncatcher video and article. Thousands and thousands of these are heading for California soon!

Long-time visitors here remember I made a field trip to the site of the Calico Solar
project on 4/27/2010. Read about the visit at the link below.

Here is the link to the article here:

And here is the direct link to the 5 minute video:

The link to my visit to the area:

And the second page about the visit:

A very interesting claim was made on this video by the man at the plant there in Maricopa
County, Arizona. He said the mirrors are cleaned once a month and that it takes 14 gallons
of water. I would be very interested in seeing proof of that, perhaps even a video of the

The article mentions that the company was supposed to have 300MW online this year and
only has 1.5, perhaps that also might have to do with what I heard and repeated on this blog, that they are using 1 maintenance worker for every 12 suncatchers there. As I mentioned in a previous post, they could singlehandedly resolve the unemployment problem up in the high desert if they build both of their proposed plants ;-)

I am pretty sure that this project is looking pretty shaky right now.

I better rephrase that, if they had to depend on investors to keep going, they’d probably
be in bankruptcy sooner than later, but since they are probably depending on us, the taxpayers, they probably think they are in the catbird seat.

Turn your volume up when you watch the video, turn it way up. Then watch one of my videos I did on my visit, you won’t hear anything but the wind. That awful racket, from
thousands and thousands of these monstrosities is coming soon to a quiet desert area.

Another thing is mentioned in the video about them not having a concrete base, did you
catch that? Now if you watched my videos you saw the very large wash running into the site. I might point out that they claimed there were no ephemeral washes at the Calico site.
Somebody is lying and I don’t think it’s me. How is this giant mirror mechanism, heavy and
huge, going to withstand a desert flash flood? What kind of dangerous metals and chemicals are inside? Are we talking potential toxic waste catastrophe here? They are
going to put many thousands of these in several square miles of desert.

Anyway watch the video, it’s an eye opener.


Sunday, June 20, 2010

So after getting taxpayers to guarantee their “high risk” solar and wind projects, they have the nerve to say the rent is too high!

Amazing but true. Uncle Sam is now, in effect, being accused of jacking up the rent
for the millions of acres of our land, wanted by these renewable energy firms, for
the “right of ways” to develop their energy potential.

In addition to the rent which is for the “row’s”, the federal government will also be assessing
a megawatt production fee which varies depending on the energy production technology
and whether or not the energy can be stored for electrical generation when it’s dark
for example.

This has got those same firms, some multinationals, who went racing, applications, in hand
for the stimulus bucks and the loan guarantees, now screaming and moaning like cats
getting their tails mashed.
What theatre!

I guess they thought that the billion $ loan guarantees aren’t enough, might as well get the
land rent free as well. After all, those saps,the taxpayers are willing to do what no other
entity is willing to do, fund these way out in the middle of nowhere, outrageously expensive
boondoggles, why not get them to forgo rent.

A very undignified spat may be building up between the wind and solar folks also. The
Dept of the Interior and BLM are charging 1$ a year for the lease rights per acre for wind
development. Another great example of our “betters”, the government bureaucrats at work.
I guess if I was one of these solar geniuses, I’d be ticked off about that, too.

Let me see if I get this. These solar and wind producers will get the properties at what I
consider “rock bottom” prices when you consider the damage to the land and the plants
and animals on it, they’ll use it for about 30 years and leave it, a scar on the land, making
money selling the power, with the tax payer footing the bill if something goes wrong or if
the capital markets tank, and they have the nerve to bitch about the rent they’re going to

You see folks, it’s obvious that these projects wouldn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell
of getting funded without the help of our federal government. Nobody on Wall Street wants
a damned thing to do with these projects, they are only interested now because the taxpayers will be assuming all the risk here. Just as with the bankers, who instead of being
given the horse whipping they so richly deserved, instead were feted with the public’s largess and went on the dole, taking the “blood money” from the Federal Reserve and the
U.S. Treasury, and now strut around even more arrogant than before the crash, we will now be seeing the same thing played out with these “masters of the renewable energy

Though the players are different, the plot stays the same. The difference being we, the taxpayers and electric utility ratepayers, will again receive the same screwing as before,
without apology or even a thoughtful word or gesture.

I guess I forgot that we are supposed to feel like we are sacrificing for the good of the country per our teacher-in-chief.

Silly me.


Here are a couple of links for more information on this issue:


Thursday, June 17, 2010

“What the world needs now” is for Ken Salazar to be fired asap!

Music lovers, I apologize for messing with the lyrics of a great song.

What follow is a post to a list serv I subscribe to:

Date:    Wed, 16 Jun 2010 09:21:40 -0700
From:    Atomic Toad Ranch <atomictoadranch@netzero.net>
Subject: Groups begin call for ouster of interior secretary Salazar

This is a multi-part message in MIME format.

Content-Type: text/plain;
Content-Transfer-Encoding: quoted-printable

Groups begin call for ouster of interior secretary Salazar
By Dennis Webb =

Tuesday, June 15, 2010 =

More than 100 scientists and environmental groups have signed a letter a=
sking President Barack Obama to request the resignation of Interior Secr=
etary Ken Salazar, while other leading conservation organizations contin=
ue to strongly support Salazar.

WildEarth Guardians, which circulated the letter, contended in a news re=
lease Monday that the actions of the former U.S. senator from Colorado h=
aven't matched his tough talk about being "the new sheriff in town."

"Mr. Salazar's failure to clean up Interior is why we're seeing the mess=
in the Gulf," Nicole Rosmarino of WildEarth Guardians said in the relea=
se. "We need serious mopping up within this department, and it should st=
art with Salazar leaving."

But Steve Torbit, regional executive director of the National Wildlife F=
ederation, said he thinks Salazar has "done more in a balanced way" than=
any Interior secretary in at least a quarter century.

He said he understands that some organizations think Salazar might not b=
e addressing their particular area of emphasis as they would like. But h=
e added, "You wonder if their vision is clear, if they really can see ev=
erything that's going on and are connected to what's going on."

The WildEarth Guardians letter says the Obama administration has failed =
to clean up the scandal-plagued Minerals Management Service it inherited=
when Obama took office, and that the agency has continued to show a "re=
ckless lack of oversight" of the oil and gas industry. The letter also c=
riticized Interior's granting of at least 27 exemptions from federal law=
s for drillers in the Gulf in the aftermath of the explosion of the BP w=
ell there.

The letter says Salazar's talk of needing to confront a climate change c=
risis is belied by his granting of major coal leases in Wyoming and Mont=
ana and disputing the crisis in court filings. It also questions his del=
aying endangered species protection for 300 species and agreeing to remo=
ve protections for gray wolves in much of the Northern Rockies.

Some of those who signed the letter had opposed Salazar's appointment to=
the job.

"I don't think that Ken Salazar has ever been an environmental reformer =
and we think that President Obama should have made a better choice back =
in 2009," Rosmarino said in an interview.

Many of those signing the letter represent smaller, more regional conser=
vation groups. Some, such as the Wolf Recovery Foundation, promote preda=
tor species, while several advocate on behalf of wild horses, which Inte=
rior manages.

Steve Smith, assistant regional director of the Wilderness Society, said=
calls for Salazar's resignation serve as a distraction to the work bein=
g done by public officials at a critical time.

"When talking about Ken Salazar in particular, this kind of distraction =
goes to the level of ridiculous," he said.

He said Salazar brings "fairness and inclusiveness and bipartisanship" t=
hat is badly needed at a time of anger and divisiveness in politics.

Smith said he also is frustrated by the Gulf spill and by public land da=
mage from oil and gas development, and his group will keep pushing Salaz=
ar for better protections.

Nevertheless, "We just need to find affirmative approaches for dealing w=
ith that rather than hunting for scapegoats," he said.

Rosmarino said Salazar's job isn't to balance divergent interests, but t=
o enforce environmental laws.

In a written response to the WildEarth Guardians letter, Interior spokes=
woman Kendra Barkoff said, "The Secretary is devoting 100 percent of his=
time to the fight to protect the Gulf Coast from BP's oil spill and wil=
l not rest until the leak is stopped, the affected communities are made =
whole, and the Gulf Coast is restored."

The Independent Petroleum Association of Mountain States declined to com=
ment on the letter. The group expressed some support for Salazar upon hi=
s appointment but since has criticized changes he has implemented regard=
ing oil and gas development on public lands.  http://www.gjsentinel.com/=
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-------------------end of quoted article from the list serv-------------------------

Yes, he has been “fair and balanced” all right- to the renewable energy and
oil and gas, and mining interests. If he gets any more “fair and balanced”
there won’t be a square foot of government owned land without a derrick or
wind turbine or heliostatic mirror on it or within eyesight of it.

As to the above “ the Secretary is devoting 100 percent of his time to the fight
to protect the Gulf Coast from BP’s oil spill” let me say that should read “from BP’s
and our Dept of Interior& Minerals and Management’s oil spill, in part due to
the lack of any real, strong regulation of the oil industry in the Gulf or anywhere
else for that matter”

Such incompetence whether by design or just flat out not being able to do the job
seems to be “de rigueur” nowadays in government and business at all levels. It seems
to be rewarded by our “leaders” probably because they don’t feel threatened by such
obvious bumpkins working under them. And the result is the situation we’re facing

From the oil soaked Gulf of Mexico to the soon to be gone unspoiled deserts of the southwestern United States, there seems to be no end to this sheer incompetence
inflicted upon us. From the “masters of the universe” astride Wall Street who just two
years ago came “hat in hand” to suck at the “hind teat” of the taxpayer, and now treat
us like the sorry “pieces of s---“ they so obviously think we are, to the same “government
leaders” who bailed those bumbling bankers because they were “too big to fail”, it’s
the same old story- arrogance, incompetence, and hanging it all on somebody else down
the road.

It’s not the American dream anymore, it’s the “American Nightmare” which, by our own government and corporate shenanigans, we have foisted off not only to ourselves and
our heirs, but to the rest of the world as well.

Sorry to pick on you Kenny, but you need to go. Don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out. Once you’re gone maybe we can start working on the rest of the deadwood
surrounding you in Sacramento and Washington, DC.

If this sounds personal, you’re right, it is. This clown singlehandedly if he has his
way will do more damage to the Mojave than all the rest in history combined have
managed to do. If you don’t believe me ask those poor folks down in the Gulf
region- a little regulation might have prevented the catastrophe there which has
probably destroyed their way of life forever.

Somebody has to walk the plank, the buck stops right at Kenny’s desk.

Good bye and good riddance.


Your comments are welcome here on the backporch, pro or con




Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Wow, my little blog has been getting some “very important visitors”! Look here for the details!

Long time visitors to the backporch know that, although sometimes I might be a little
long on hyperbole, usually I also provide some facts that justify my opinions. Today
is just such a post.

When I started the backporch, I really had no idea where it would go except that, the
blog would be about the Mojave Desert and the Mojave National Preserve in large
part, and that I would have ads on the site with the goal of supplementing my retirement
in around 7 years or so.

Well, this little old blog is still here and has been limping along with a few visitors daily,
not going to win any awards but also not going to be pointed out as an example of the
”worst that the internet has to offer” either. But unbeknownst to me until recently, evidently
I have made the radar screen on some very important institutions, movers and shakers
so to speak.

Some of you may have heard this or if you haven’t, what follows will be a real eye opener.
Whenever you visit a place on the world wide web you leave all kind of detritus behind in
your wake and oftentimes the server you visit keeps a record of your stopping by. This
is so that on a future visit, they can tailor content to your interests based on your previous
visit or can throw ads at you next time.

I am telling you this upfront. When you visit the overwhelming majority of sites on the net,
the servers place a “cookie” on your machine, a little bit of text, relax it isn’t a virus or
anything bad, my machine is full of them, the purpose of which is to prepare the site for
your next visit. I assure you without equivocation, no tracking cookies are placed on
your machine from my site, however, I do know your entry point to my site, where you
came from,i.e.google,yahoo,etc and your exit link.

Now getting to the main point of the post today. I promised news of bigtime players visiting
this site and I am going to deliver today.

My number one visitor is from the San Francisco bay area and has visited my site 97 times
in the last few months. I thank Mr or Ms. X for the visits and hope they continue. I would
like to point out though that this area is the home base of a well known renewable energy
company that I have repeatedly skewered, lambasted, and lampooned on this site many
times. I would really be curious to know if that really is who is visiting me, perhaps a staffer
assigned to keep an eye out on this blog,hhhhmmmm?

Here is another well known national and international legal firm(one of the top 20 law firms
in this country) that has visited my little insignificant blog at least two times-the proof
ScreenHunter_02 Jun. 16 11.52 
This is a major legal player in the California energy market, their visit record below:
ScreenHunter_04 Jun. 16 12.03

And here is where the builder-to-be for the Ivanpah project checked in to see little ole me!
ScreenHunter_05 Jun. 16 12.05

The world’s largest and most famous engineering firm visited Morongobills Backporch not once but several times. Man, I am sh----g in the high cotton now as we used to say back home!

Here are a few more famous visitors presented without fanfare!
ScreenHunter_06 Jun. 16 12.09

ScreenHunter_07 Jun. 16 12.10

ScreenHunter_08 Jun. 16 12.12

ScreenHunter_09 Jun. 16 12.15

ScreenHunter_10 Jun. 16 12.17

ScreenHunter_11 Jun. 16 12.17

ScreenHunter_12 Jun. 16 12.18

ScreenHunter_13 Jun. 16 12.19

ScreenHunter_14 Jun. 16 12.20

ScreenHunter_15 Jun. 16 12.21

Yes I am pretty pleased that my little corner of the web is getting such high faluting visitors.
Let me say now, welcome all you vip’s! Come back anytime, and next time instead of lurking please feel free to leave a comment or even email me at morongobill@gmail.com, I
welcome your guest article submissions which I will publish “as-is” with my comments also
and would be interested in interviewing any of you for this blog.

A note to my fellow environmental bloggers- you might want to check out your activity logs on your own sites for a list of interesting visitors as well.

Thanks to one and all, famous or not famous, rich or poor, all of you who keep visiting the
backporch despite the journeyman writing and photography, and not even student quality
video work by yours truly, thank you for stopping by and please consider adding yourself as a follower here at the backporch!


As a parting gift, here is the activity on my site this am, look at the major players listed below, this is activity today June 16th.
ScreenHunter_01 Jun. 16 14.54

Interesting video about town of Nipton getting new solar power plant.

Details are available here:

There is also a video to view at the above link.

This was first brought to my attention earlier this week on the Sierra Club List Serv and
then again today when I got this from a renewable energy list I subcribe to.


LiveJournal Tags:

Monday, June 14, 2010

Further comments on the “Green Gold Rush” video.

After sleeping on it, what stays with me is how similar the representative
for BrightSource Energy was to the 2 rep’s from the environmental movement.
Sorry to ruffle any feathers, but heh, that’s what we do here on the backporch
sometimes. And by the way, I am not referring to the gentleman with the hat
who was out on the BrightSource Ivanpah site.

Let me make a point in a round about way. I feel the folks who run for public office
or who get jobs in the executive or legislative branches of all forms of government,
go into office with good intentions. I do not impugn their motives in any way, unlike
some of my friends and associates. But there is something about the process, the
money required to run for re-election, the open door policy to the well funded and
closed door to the rest of us mere mortals, something changes them over time.
Most go from idealists to jaded, it’s just a matter of time, it seems.

Scores of books and articles have been written about this, I really can’t add anything
new except I believe there is no cure or remedy for the mess we find ourselves
in. And now that our U.S. Supreme Court has struck down any limits on corporate
money, we are truly f-----. Big money trumps all including your free speech.

Getting back to the BrightSource shill in the video, he’s doing his job and that’s what
he makes the big bucks for doing. I thought referring only to his salesmanship, he did
a great job, he earned his money, whether I believe in his pitch or not. Having worked in sales a few times in my life and being the son of a man who they said “could talk sweet-
ness out of a cake”, I think I have the bonafides to make a judgement.

Now moving onto Mr. Zichella from the Sierra Club and the older lady, sorry no battery left in this laptop to re-watch the video, I believe they are wrong, I also believe many others
at the grassroots level agree they are wrong, and I believe that perhaps with the best
personal motives, they have fallen in with the system on this one.

I am not going to lambaste them as our governator and Bobby Kennedy Jr got from this
blog and a well deserved one at that, and I am not going to impugn their integrity either.
But I will say, that others like me and along with me, feel that this destroying the Mojave
now to save it later in the future will just mean the destruction of the Mojave now and
for the future, in human years, for all time. This follows as naturally as day follows
night. Anywhere we go with our earthmovers and asphalt, you can bet the rest of
”human civilization” will be following closely behind, you know- “fast food nation”.

Spend some time, oh ye of little faith, who don’t believe me or think I am perhaps over-
reacting, as I said before on this blog several times, go right into the lion’s den, to the BLM
Geocommunicator site, and look around the Mojave Desert, your eyes will cross or glaze
over once you see all the proposed “renewable energy” projects planned for our Mojave.
Those little xxx’s and /// of different colors mean something, they represent something real.
You can take this to the bank, those projects that get approved, and I think quite a few will,
mean that an awful lot of lives, plant and animal, and possibly human, will be disrupted, in
most cases snuffed out, forever in that location and in locations all over the Mojave leading
inexorably to habitat fragmentation, and the inevitable industrialization of this beautiful
and scenic area.

You want fries with that, buddy?

You see the glitch in Mr. Zichella’s argument for supporting these projects as a way to help
stop climate change is he says we will lose what was it, 20% of the species if we don’t
do something now, and I take that to mean, get started with these renewable projects on
desert land instead of taking our time, siting them on disturbed land or on rooftops,etc. We
will lose the species now, if we don’t act. In my opinion we’ll lose them from the damage
caused by these projects he supports, and in amounts greater than he mentioned, but it
will happen now not in the future, now.

Now getting back to sales and sales pitches, the main thing you must do is instill a sense
of urgency into the “mark”, I mean prospect. As the old crude saying goes back home
and sometimes out here on the backporch, you gotta make ‘em s—t or get off the pot!
Then they’ll buy and that’s exactly what they are trying to get us to do now. Gotta
act now, the federal stimulus dollars are going to expire!

How’s this for an idea? Let the federal $ expire, this is our California and our Mojave Desert, to hell with the bozos in Sacramento and Washington,as another
saying goes, they don’t know whether to s—t or go blind, and let’s take time
to do this right, to look into it further as once we start grading and blading, there
is no turning back!

You know without hardly a single exception, everytime in my life somebody said, you
gotta move now, gotta act now,etc- usually they were trying to sell me something I did not
want or need. Consider this folks, if these solar and wind plants and all their transmission
lines are such a sure fired money making deal, why the hell are we the taxpayers the
only chumps stupid enough to fall for the pitch? You don’t see Goldman Sachs or
J.P.Morgan funding these multi-billion $$$$$ projects do ya? You think they’d cut
us the taxpayers in if they were good deals? If you think that, then maybe the
Treasury will be paid back by AIG, don’t hold your breath on that one, either.

Nope, we are just the “marks” being setup just like on the great movie “The Sting”
being setup to take the fall as usual.



Saturday, June 12, 2010

Watch this video, best I’ve seen on the desert and the “renewable energy land rush”!

Many thanks to Chris Clarke over at the DesertBlog for the Desert Protective Council
for bringing it to our attention, see his article here:

May I just say first how impressed I am with the production of this short video. I am
especially pleased with how they managed to allow the sheer size and scope of the
BrightSource Ivanpah location to come out on this small video. Obviously I, as said
many times by myself here, am no videographer, but Ms. Carr’s work here allows
the beauty of the location to shine here on the small screens of our laptops and
desktops. Great work!

The film-makers interviewed several of the movers and shakers in the solar industry and the environmental movement, and regardless of my own personal feelings about those folks, this was really fine journalism.

Folks, if you never look at this site again, or if you are a regular here on the backporch,
please do not leave without watching this short 6 minute video.

Thanks for visiting the backporch.


P.S. I will have more thoughts on this video and the situation facing our deserts in the future. For now. I am just going to watch it a few more times and maybe even learn how
to produce a video ;-)


Thursday, June 10, 2010

A great time to flee to your desert cabin(hope it’s paid for!)

Everywhere you look around you, unless you live in the Hamptons or Dubai- oh wait
a minute, they’ve been rocked by the recession too, the signs are there for those who see.
Yesterday, I drove over to Fullerton from Buena Park, and sitting under the freeway underpass, were about 4 homeless people, a scene straight out of a Steinbeck
novel. You see these unfortunates everywhere you go.

A careful viewing of the media, skipping over the corporate fluff and spin, reveals
tale after tale of want and need in this “land of plenty”. Virtually every economic site
online brings forward bad news, I mean there’s just too much bad news to sweep
under the rug anymore.

Then you add this massive Gulf Oil catastrophe to the mix, which directly affects a
region with a 2 TRILLION $ economy, and probably will affect for years to come, and
maybe even leading to the shutdown of shipping on the mighty Mississippi River, this
is really looking more and more dire, the longer it goes on.

Add to this the fact that the Federal Reserve threw about a Trillion $ to the banks and
the U.S. Treasury another Trillion $, and look at all the good it did for us and our country,
in my humble opinion, we have got one foot on a banana peel and the other in the bone-
yard. One wrong move or slip, and we may go right back into recession or even depression.

Economic sites I follow say our M3 money supply has contracted about 5.9% which in
the old days was called deflation, very bad news for a “dead beat, debtor nation”.
Maybe in all fairness, I should have left it at debtor nation, but we have reached the point
in our empire building, where we just will never be able to pay off this debt, no matter
whose taxes we raise, or whose benefits we cut. We will have to make our bond payments
or else risk the “bond vigilantes” making a run against in the bond markets, possibly
exposing us as the next Greece or whoever the whipping boy is at the moment. We have
very little room to maneuver in this, per everything I’ve read. The difficulty of our situation
is also self evident by the gyrations our elected officials, both state, local, and federal, are
doing right now and this will only get worse in the very near future.

Yes, this is definitely the time to cash out of the markets, if you haven’t been wiped out
already by the rigged system and get ”liquid” as they say.

If it was possible, I’d head straight to the desert, do not pass go, do not collect $200, just as
quickly as I could, and head right to my cabin to live out my days.

Unfortunately I don’t own a cabin and I am broke so I guess I’ll face this freight train
coming shoulder-to-shoulder with the rest of you.

God help us in the days and years to come.


Monday, June 7, 2010

Desert scraped bare, graded, and the project is put on hold, sound far- fetched? Here’s proof it isn’t.

This is not an intellectual exercise, but an actual event that occurred in Desert Hot
Springs, California. Below is an actual Google Earth image of hundreds of acres, the
actual dimensions are .92 miles from top to bottom and .87 miles from side-to-side, almost
a square mile or 640 acres.

This is the Highland Falls golf and housing development by Roger Snellenberger Development, Inc. references to which can be found online as far back as 2003.
Another in a long string of golf course and residential developments which plague
the Palm Springs and Coachella valley area.

Last week I had to drive up to Joshua Tree to take care of some business and as I
drove up Hwy 62 toward JT I couldn’t help but notice this massive scar on the land
and decided to stop by on my way back down the hill. Get up close and personal
if possible.

Coming back down, you can see this scar on the land from a long way off with a really
good viewing available at Mission Creek Road.
jt_trip060310 012
The view from Mission Creek Road, not a pretty picture is it? This is shot from a distance
of around 2 miles away or so.

Anyway I got back into the morongomobile and headed closer to the site, and drove
down to Pierson Blvd and turned right,west, to get closer. Here is the view:
jt_trip060310 015

At the end of the street is a white sign,the graded area is to the right and goes to the
right or north for about .92 miles and .87 miles beyond the sign toward those hills.
By the way, Pierson used to continue up into the hills, this was the location for the
(in)famous Nude Bowl.

Here is a closeup of the sign.
jt_trip060310 030

By the way, online I found a reference to this Wilson fellow being on the board of some
sort of water agency, make of that what you will. There was a security guard trailer
here with guard for a long time, but now they have just chained and locked the entrance.

After parking the morongomobile and desiring to explore a little without getting incarcerated
for trespassing, I decided to walk a little bit along the outside of the fence. Here’s the view:
jt_trip060310 022

And a better view:
jt_trip060310 028

Note the fancy brick/block wall behind the wire fence. It appears to be about 7 or 8 feet
tall and pretty strong. But to the right and down a ways, the block wall toppled over,
a long section from the force of flash flood water runoff. Oh, by the way, Snellenberger
Development actually stated there were no washes in the project area, per the web. I
give credence to that considering that similar information was submitted to the CEC
for one of the giant proposed solar projects!

Of course we know different:
ScreenHunter_01 Jun. 07 10.34

And below, sorry for the poor quality, these are screen captures from video I shot from inside the wash, on the legal, no trespassing side of the fence, the wash of course
begins on the corporate owned, fenced-in side.
ScreenHunter_02 Jun. 07 10.34

No wash on the property, makes me think they elevated the “art of telling lies”
to a new level! And looking out on the alluvial flood plain:
ScreenHunter_04 Jun. 07 10.47

This next is from my memory, I have no internet access to verify this. I believe this whole
area here to the west of Hwy 62 going up to the hills used to be called the “devil’s
playground” due to the huge numbers and varieties of cactus and succulents, that is
until the residents and gardeners of Los Angeles found out about it, and proceeded to
totally denude the area of everything over just a few years. This was one of the events
that motivated a true original patroness of this area, Minerva Hoyt,to action, one of her
accomplishments leading to the creation of the Joshua Tree National Monument, among
other things.

So in addition to having all its’ cactus’s being ripped off, now they’ve bladed off everything
else and graded it into this monstrous form, and it’s sitting there, blowing away in the
never ending winds of the area. Why is that, you might ask? I don’t know but let me share
my original theory and what I have learned.

At first, my thoughts were that their funding collapsed along with the southern California
property bubble. Then I came across references to the project being put on hold by a
court case. Looking into that didn’t yield much information at all, however I did come across
a document from the Center for Biological Diversity regarding this development’s effect
on the Palm Springs pocket mouse and an emergency application to add it to the federal
endangered species list, which may be the court case being talked about, I don’t know.

Now to the point of this article, what if the same thing happened here, for example:
ivanpahfieldtrip 004

Loyal readers recognize the BrightSource Ivanpah site#1 above and the area below:
ivanpah032410hike 032

The above pic of course looks down across the future site of Ivanpah #3 toward the
metamorphic hill.

The point is a lot can happen during the construction of a huge, expensive plant or
residential development. Lawsuits can be filed, stopping all activity. And since timing
is everything, hopefully those doing the filing don’t wait until the area has been graded.
I can assure you that the contractor knowing this will fire up those earthmovers and get
’er done just as quickly as possible, boots on the ground as they say.

This is a time of great economic and financial uncertainty, to say the least. Since most
construction is done in stages, and payment is received upon completion of a task, what
if Bechtel say, finished the blading and grading for Ivanpah’s 1,2, and 3, and then the bottom fell out from under the capital markets, work stops and we are left with an awesome
whole in the fabric of the north end of the Ivanpah Valley to look at for the rest of our
lives, and our kid’s eyes, on and on for generations.

You may laugh at this or think maybe I should just stick with bus driving, but these are
events that I have seen with my own eyes several times in my 55 years. These are the
worst economic times I have seen in my lifetime, and to be brutally frank about it, I
don’t see any improvement coming anytime soon and I trust these governments and
financial institutions about as far as I can throw them, not very far at all.

My prediction and I feel it is a safe bet is that one or more of these renewable energy
projects slated for our Mojave Desert will be graded and bladed and the money’s
going to run out and then, as they say, it will truly be all over but the crying.

It’s a tragedy just waiting to happen.


Here is a link about Mrs Hoyt:


Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Great letter from a veteran about Mojave Desert and need to save it.

From an opinion piece in the San Bernadino Sun, surf over here for the piece.
Well worth reading!

My favorite lines from the article:

While we were deployed we dreamed of returning back to our homes near the California desert. This is a peaceful and tranquil place. Its vastness calmed the soul.

The California desert was also the perfect antidote to the stresses - both physical and mental - of war. We could take long drives out into remote areas, and hunt or hike without seeing another soul. “

I truly understand and appreciate the sentiment expressed here in those words. I’m sitting
here typing this and wishing so badly on my day off to be anywhere in the Mojave National
Preserve, anywhere but here in the big city.
 archivecd9 010

Pardon the melancholy folks, you deserve better.