Wednesday, June 29, 2011

New video from the Huntington Beach Solar Carports at City Hall + a preview of things to come on the backporch.

Went back in my trolley last night, and filmed this short video prior to my first run.

There were technical problems, no sound, which have now been corrected. Unfortunately there is now a 36 meg file size.

Solar energy side by side with oil wells, the old and new.

If you listen carefully you can hear the “horsehead” or oil derrick going up and down.
062811huntbchsolar 004

Fresh solar panels up on top of the carport, with my trolley to the right and the oil well pumping away just to the
left of my trolley in the background.

Folks, some changes are coming down the pike to the backporch.

I have discovered that I enjoy writing positive posts, even though I feel
that I write negatively a lot better.
Sometimes when I am on a rant roll, the
posts seem to write themselves, which makes the job easier, but often leave me depressed, because I know that I am accomplishing exactly nothing, and am influencing exactly no one.

So why get all worked up for naught? Sure it felt good, I must confess, to excoriate Brune of the Sierra Club the other day, but so what? In the grand scheme of things, he exists in the policy maker’s world with access to the elites who are making the decisions, I, on the other hand, am just a little grain of sand on a big sandy beach----- you catch my drift.

Now I am not saying that I won’t fly off the handle again in the future, but I will try to make it less a rant and try to offer up an alternative scenario, fair enough?

One thing I would like to do is offer up the backporch forum to guest writers if any are so inclined. Sorry, the pay is bad, zero as there is zero add revenue,
but if you would like a soapbox and don’t mind the pay and non-existent benefits, shoot me an email with an idea you might like to write about and a little about yourself for the introduction. The only rule is write nothing that you can be sued for libel over and hold back on the profanity if at all possible.

I am particularly interested in hearing from young folks with opinions about wilderness issues etc and especially in getting trip reports from desert excursions, especially by bicycle, and also anything related to the Mojave National Preserve.

So all this being said, let me tell you that I have noticed a correlation between working lots of hours and a decline in my number of posts, which is why I haven’t written much this month. That’s why I haven’t done too much lately.

For example, I recently traveled to the Whitewater Canyon Nature Preserve along with a friend and fellow blogger Lee Murray, where I took a bunch of
photos and videos, and still haven’t gotten around to blogging about the trip!
060111whitewaterpreserve 058

In addition, I am about to purchase a new vehicle in 2 or 3 months, when the
morongomobile is paid off, and I am now leaning to acquiring a motor scooter, not the little Vespa but a big one like the 600 cc Honda SilverWing I looked at today, or the Suzuki Burgman 650 or 400; regardless I will not buy anything until I take a look at the 2012 Yamaha Majesty due to be in dealer showrooms this August. The morongoscooter, I like that.

So if you own a scooter or have experience with them, pluses or minuses, perhaps you would consider writing a guest post about it for the backporch, it
would be my honor to publish it. Just think about, I won’t twist any arms.

So again we part, hope to see and read you here soon!


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Morongobill steps into a Carls Jr for breakfast, leaves a star.

The latter is definitely an exaggeration, but I did get roped into a spot in an
upcoming biscuit commercial. Or most likely my spot will be used as a lighting test for the real actors later.

It is true what they say about the camera adding a couple of pounds to the one photographed.

The Morongobill better head back up for a long, hot desert hike soon.


The film crew deep in artistic discussion.

Of course, it wouldn’t be like me if I didn’t have plenty of advice for the film crew. For example, suggesting that they open up the wrapper on the Carls Jr
biscuit; the Mcdonald’s one was open, and the decision being made by the
director to wrap both, and of course, I suggested that the Mcdonald’s biscuit
be sloppily wrapped- absolutely not, I am not telling, you will have to watch
the commercial to see what happened
- it was a fun experience, the film crew
was joking that I was a star Winking smile

You know this kind of stuff happens to me at least once a week!

Just kidding!

True story! The director came over and asked me if I would be interested in being in a commercial and told me the compensation was a $6 coupon or something, and I said let me show you something, I brought up my website and
asked him to have the camera zoom in on it; of course, he said they couldn’t do that as the client was Carls and we talked about the backporch a while, and
somehow ended up watching some of the television footage from the cross napping last year where I was interviewed.

I also talked with the guy holding the boom mike, the soundman, about how right after boot camp, I returned home to Georgia, and my junk car broke down in the middle of the busiest intersection in town, causing a monumental traffic jam, and a news crew showed up first, and I was attempting to direct them and got my suggested scene into the news report!

However, nobody believed me when I said watch me on the news tonight, except my 3 year old stepsister, who told everyone for days, you should have seen Sonny on television!

The soundman agreed that was a great story.

Folks, this was fun. I enjoyed writing this post. I hope you enjoyed it also. Now
you know some of my secrets, such as my nickname.

Until we next meet.


Sunday, June 26, 2011

The city of Huntington Beach, California gets on the distributed power generation express! And not a single desert tortoise or endangered species will be harmed or made homeless!

This was seen today and yesterday by this blogger, while driving a trolley around the city of Huntington Beach, California- Surf City USA!

Another view.

From the backside.

They just finished the supports, haven’t installed the pv panels yet, which by the way are the “Suntech” brand if my memory is correct.

In the foreground, an unfinished shade support. In the background, one with the solar panels already installed but not yet hooked up.

Another view of an almost finished car shade structure, which sounds as good as any other name!

This is an example of proper solar siting!

Folks, to say I was thrilled to see this work being done is an understatement!
This is what I have wanted to see being done for a long, long time. I don’t have the details, I am too tired right now to investigate this further, but the pictures and video tell the tale.

As Shaun over at the Mojave Desert Blog said tonight in his post, the feds are starting to come around to rooftop solar- Lord, I hope so. I strongly suggest that
you surf right over to his site and read the latest, and while you are there, check out his other articles- he has been tirelessly following up on the desert
renewable energy issues among other things- there is great information there-
you have to check it out.

By the way, here is a news item from last year which bears directly upon the carports I photographed yesterday and today. Evidently this deal will end up
generating enough power between the three locations to power over 5,900 average homes!

Way to go, Surf City! Thank you for showing us a responsible way to generate our own local power and to help demonstrate the viability and good, old fashioned economics of home grown, distributed power generation on rooftops,
or in this case, carports!


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Brune of the Sierra Club preaching rooftop solar to the masses: Give me a f-----g break!

Way back in August of 2010 I had a few thoughts on this subject. Feel free to
surf over and check it out. Go ahead, we’ll wait for you.

Now almost a year later, the Right Reverend Michael Brune is now preaching rooftop solar for the bay area at the Sierra Club blog in a post entitled “Every
rooftop matters!” Here is an excerpt from the Right Reverend Brune’s sermon
on the subject:

“If you care about the environment, rooftop solar is as green as it gets.”
Another gem.
”Solar has never been more affordable. The materials costs for solar rooftop installations have fallen dramatically, and for now, you can still benefit from significant federal and (depending on where you live) state incentives for installing solar that bring down the cost of both purchased and leased systems.”
No problem here with that.
Solar-leasing programs, where you basically rent or purchase power from a system for 10 to 20 years, have made it possible for homeowners to put solar on their roofs for as little as $0 and still save on their utility bills.”
Again no issues here.
”Rooftop solar also helps the U.S. economy by providing work for the people who design and install the systems.”

Wow, who would have a problem with this? It sounds like what another organization has been saying all along.

I have a problem with what the Right Reverend Michael Brune is doing, that’s who.

Please look at these recent satellite photographs accessed today on the world wide web, take a close look. Break out your magnifying glass if you need to.
ScreenHunter_01 Jun. 22 14.22

Note the words by the orange balloon A.
ScreenHunter_02 Jun. 22 14.24

With a thirsting and longing eye, because I really want to believe in the Right
Reverend Brune and his message, this blogger peered for a long time at these images, searching in vain for the solar panel arrays up top, busily converting the sun’s bountiful photons into the copious amounts of green, renewable electricity needed to run the Sierra Club’s headquarters day to day operations.

What a hypocrite! Almost a year later and he still hasn’t had solar panels put up on the roof of his building? Hell, the NRDC spent millions to put up a state of the art facility using the very latest technology, and the Right Reverend Brune can’t even put up one measly solar panel?

I say it again, he’s a hypocrite! Preaching to everyone else, while doing the same old, same old, co-opting somebody else’s work, and did you notice, they didn’t even have the common decency to even mention Solar Done Right, not even once, after pretty much “cribbing” their ideas!

In the interest of fairness, I am not part of Solar Done Right, just a supporter of
their policies, which promote a logical idea- putting the energy development on local rooftops, where it is used, instead of paving over the California desert, way out in the middle of nowhere, hundreds of miles away, and then shipping that extremely costly, in dollars and environmental destruction, power back to those same neighborhoods just mentioned!

But what can you expect from Brune and company, after one of his own, a certain fellow named Zichella, helped create the rules leading to the raping of the Mojave Desert in the first place!

Brune, a name that will be remembered for a long time, I am sure. From helping silence the desert activists at the Sierra Club, who opposed the club’s
support for these desert projects in the first place
, to not doing enough to try to stop the Ivanpah project, despite the entreaties of the activists mentioned earlier, to parroting that same disgusting line that sacrifices must be made to stop this climate change and global warming- Right Reverend Brune- why is it the desert wilderness must be sacrificed? Why must the desert tortoises do all the sacrificing? Why must the native peoples be the ones to bear the brunt of the sacrifice? Where was the Sierra Club legal department when the Ivanpah Valley was supine and about to be ravished by the industrialists earthmovers?

I accuse you, Reverend, along with your fellow travelers on the board, you guys are the ones, along with the NRDC and others who refused to help, who can claim sole moral responsibility for this tragedy which has befallen our southwestern deserts- you had a choice long ago, don’t tell me that you just discovered the benefits and advantages of rooftop solar; don’t you dare tell us that, we didn’t just fall off the damned turnip wagon yesterday sir- no, I accuse you of playing politics; you knew the truth, but chose to ignore it, some might say by doing so that you wouldn’t offend your corporate donors- they might think that, it is their right, you chose your path, and I consider it my duty, to keep pointing out to anybody who listens- the frauds, the “snake oil salesmen,”I believe you and your ilk are.

How about you readers? Am I too hard on them here? Perhaps you are a member and maybe I stepped on your toes?

Get over it, and go buy some steel toed boondockers, because a whole lot of stomping is going on, now and in the future.

You can take it to the bank.


Sunday, June 19, 2011

Utah’s attempt to assert local control over a national park may have ramifications here in the Mojave. Think roads.

There have been many cases in recent years of local and state bureaucrats trying to take over management functions from the federal agencies overseeing the public lands out here in the west. The activities really took off in the Reagan years and continue on to this day.

The Los Angeles Times Greenspace environmental blog had a recent story
from Utah which you can read here. Go read it and come back, I’ll wait.

An awesome view in Canyonlands National Park, where Utah, on behalf of offroad interests, would like like authority over
road building.

One comment, by Dayna I believe, interested me. She referenced Ed Abbey, as
some of you may know, his seminal work “Desert Solitaire” was written about his time working summers at Arches(then a national monument)National Park.
I also wonder what he would think about this. Since my OUIJA board is broken, I won’t attempt to get an answer Winking smile

Do you think Ed Abbey would approve of new roads in currently road less areas of Arches National Park pictured above?

For decades, the locals have been chipping away at the feds, trying to assume
local control over the public lands. There has been no firm federal response, just various tactics such as stonewalling, or giving in a little, tactics which just
invite further tries from the local governments. This is a complicated issue, multifaceted beyond my ability to comprehend mostly, but I do understand the legal term precedent.

If the feds lose this lawsuit, and it is upheld on appeal, it will mean the loss of ability to control how and what roads are built in the federal lands, ostensibly in the national parks, but I guarantee it would end up being applied to national forests, national monuments, wilderness areas, plus all BLM administered land.

As Don Corleone said, “one smart lawyer with his briefcase can steal more than fifty men with machine guns.” Give the state’s rights lawyers a loophole, and they’ll widen it enough to drive a Bechtel/BrightSource earthmover through,
with thousands of off-roaders following closely behind!

California is home to a large swath of federally owned land, lots of it out in the Mojave Desert, soon to be home to many large renewable energy projects, if the state and feds have their way. Relax, I am not going into that. But I will say
some of these are way out there, and off the beaten path.

How hard would it be, if Utah wins its’ case, for the State of California to demand access to build roads across federal land, where none currently exist
except that in ancient times there might have been a wagon trail or even
a network of paths, build on this old route, wide modern roads for the purpose of access, and construction for the new power plants?

Here is an example that comes to my mind right away. Months ago I blogged about how the Mojave National Preserve was ringed by proposed wind and solar developments. The network of roads in the park may not be good enough
in the ability to support heavy semitrailers hauling the large generators etc, and may not be wide enough- the state might demand they be upgraded for this purpose- do you believe that if that happened, the state wouldn’t demand that the routes be considered part of the state’s public road network? My advice, unsolicited to the new Preserve Superintendent, is to start working
on a night closure of those roads, just as in Joshua Tree- and no, I could care less that this has become a short cut from Palm Springs to Las Vegas!

Of course, there might be routes that could be cut through wilderness or currently (paved)road less areas in the preserve. After all the preserve is home to literally thousands of miles of old dirt roads that could be candidates for paving in the future…..
archivecd16 118

In my opinion, the feds need to put their best lawyers on this case, and fight it until the bitter end, there just is too much at stake.

Yes, my astute readers, I see the irony here, having to depend upon the feds
to defend the parklands; the same feds who gave away the store at Ivanpah, but what other choice do we have?

If you see another choice, by all means leave a comment and let’s talk about it.



Friday, June 17, 2011

My reader’s analysis deserves a post of its’ own, here it is!

This is referring to my last post about the political ad that I saw on Truthdig,
go here to watch the ad and to read my initial post.

Here is what a reader of this blog who goes by the handle “southern geologist”
had to say about the ad and about this blog:

I lean primarily libertarian except when it comes to environmental issues and a couple of other things that I won't go into so I don't mind your postings despite our political disagreements here and there. (Apparently Eco-Libertarian is the closest description of my political philosophy, but I'm pretty strictly independent.)
In any case, this is certainly a powerful ad:
First off, there's the obvious emotional appeal. I've been informed more than once that I am a machine, heartless, what-have-you, and it affects me.
Second, it self-consciously attempts to invert the rhetoric frequently used by Democratic politicians that Republicans don't care about the common man, only want to support the rich, etc., which is an argument that has been mostly ignored (or simply screamed at) prior to this point. It strikes particularly hard at this point of contention by emphasizing single mothers and other sorts of people that Republicans allegedly do not care about. (I'm not saying Republicans do, in fact, care about them, just that the ad is intended to respond to the claim that they don't.)
Third, it directly focuses on how high the unemployment rate is, which is a deciding factor for many swing voters in a given election. Many don't know this but in the history of the US only one president has ever managed to be re-elected when unemployment numbers hit nine percent or above during his term - F.D.R. This is particularly clever when one keeps in mind that Romney has a reputation in the media as a moderate which will enter into swing voters minds when they consider whom they're going to vote for.
Fourth, it brilliantly applies a patriotic slogan 'Believe in America' but does so subtly rather than slapping you across the face with it. Patriotic and jingoistic slogans (and ideas) tend to come out in full force during hard times as people are always looking for some 'other' to blame for their country's problems when things get really bad. In recent years much more focus has been placed on unveiling this tactic by the left and encouraging people to not be tricked by slogans, or rather, to not be tricked by THAT slogan. The discussions on Republicans wanting to bring back McCarthyism come immediately to mind when I write this (not to say that some don't want to bring it back). If he was to simply have a ten second ad crying 'BELIEVE IN AMERICA, VOTE ROMNEY' it would fall squarely into the sights of those objections and possibly even be deemed a racist/birther ad. This ad manages to get the slogan into peoples' heads and avoid that mess by being more subtle. If his campaign manager is smart other ads will follow a similar tact.
In any case, thoughts? I want to see if we're coming from the same direction in regards to why this ad is so powerful.

June 17, 2011 8:24 AM

Now this is what the old Morongobill calls political analysis. I dare to say this is
a better argument(and more cogent)than most you see in the political blogosphere. Anywhere, anytime.

I agree with everything “southern geologist’ says here, and after reflecting over the ad overnight and the comment, I have a couple more thoughts, not in any order, just as they come to mind.

This ad is a great general election commercial, but this is early primary season. If the Romney campaign can put up an ad this good, this early, and if he gets the party nomination, Obama is in big trouble.

The flip side of the coin is that republican primary voters are notoriously conservative, especially amongst the born again folks, and I am not so sure that they’ll vote for Romney, period.

The fact above about President Franklin Delano Roosevelt is correct, per my recollection, and allow me to be the first to say, “he ain’t no FDR.” I voted for the man, and earnestly hoped he would channel his inner FDR, instead he
channeled his inner Herbert Hoover, or was it J. Edgar?

I so wanted to not go here but I can’t help myself. This man, elected with such
hope for change, has delivered nothing but the continuation of the King George the Second policies. Why hasn’t he closed Gitmo as promised? Why haven’t the torturer’s been punished? Why haven’t we pulled our troops out?
Why the hell must we keep blowing up noncombatants all over the middle east,
and as a video showed that tore my heart clean out of my chest when I saw it and put it on these pages, we bombed little children. Have we no shame? Have we no decency left? How long can this keep going on? Don’t answer it, I am aware as any that we have a whole lot of bombs and missiles left, and plenty of will to use them.

This is going to end very badly folks, a lot of people are going to get killed before this is over, and I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the killing is done over here on this side of the ocean.

This is so unnecessary and pointless, we got our revenge long ago, for the sake of our republic, we must drop this empire business and concentrate on taking care of ourselves and the least amongst us, and grow up, quit the bullying and the killing, and bring our troops back home, where we could certainly make use of their skill sets, for example in rebuilding infrastructure, among other things- do it here, not half way around the world.

I surely agree that this economy is in dire straits, despite what the eggheads say. I remember telling everybody for years that there was a housing bubble, and that it would crash- look out below- lots of folks saw it, seems like everybody saw it but the big time financial and political types. Now these same folks are saying we are now in a recovery- who are you going to believe? Your
sense of falling further and further behind, or your lying television screen?

I do my own thinking, I don’t need the idiot box to tell me what to think, and neither do you. I don’t need somebody to tell me it’s raining, when I can see them pissing on my leg, neither do you.

Again, if you have thoughts about anything blogged about here, please
leave a comment. I know for a fact that I have a variety of different folks, from all over the world, dropping in from time to time, but most just read and leave.

My job here is not to preach to the choir, it is to discuss issues, and discuss goes both ways.

Thanks again to “Southern Geologist” for his absolutely spot on political analysis, and to the rest of you folks reading, I look forward to hearing from you as well.



Thursday, June 16, 2011

One of the best political ads that I have ever seen.

You folks know that I am a liberal in my politics, despite what might be seen as a negative, some of you visit here anyway, even though we may differ. I like to believe that I don’t honor too many sacred cows, and am not afraid to call a spade, a spade.

This political ad spotted over at Truthdig, about as liberal a site as you’ll find, is hard hitting and totally different from most political ads. It also has subtlety as well. This is no Willie Horton ad nor a little girl pulling flower petals off while a mushroom cloud ascends behind her; but in its’ own way, this ad may end up being as effective as those from bygone years.

And no, this is not a democratic ad- it’s a republican one- don’t surf away in disgust now, you must know your enemy before you attack him in my opinion.

Don’t get the wrong idea, this ad does not sway me, nor will it cause me to doubt my decision to not vote for B.O.’s re-election to the presidency, but I think it will have an effect upon many regular working people, not the intellectuals, who have been forgotten by our elite masters and the main stream media, and who feel that the president cares more for the bankers and others, than for them. These folks backs are against the wall and they feel no one gives a damn about them or their families.

Actually this blogger feels that way often as well.

Watch it and see if we  feel the same way and spot the same things.

This is a “must see” especially if you are a political junkie.

From the Mitt Romney campaign. I don’t see any ad topping this one.

Talk to me, like it or not. Let us know your thoughts, leave a comment for all to see. Put yourself out there.


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

“DAMN THE TORTOISES! FULL SPEED AHEAD!”- the backporch take on the letter to Congress in favor of energy development on public lands from the NRDC, Defenders of Wildlife, and the Wilderness Society.

The above organizations by this letter seem to be cruising for a bruising, here on the backporch, we are always happy to oblige. Keep reading for my views on the issues presented in their letter, a view which may differ from others concerned with the issue, so be it. Below is an example from the letter.

Most importantly, we have learned that a strategic and coordinated approach to
designing energy generation and transmission at the beginning stages of project planning not only
facilitates energy development, but also help preserve the rich natural and cultural heritage that
our public lands provide.”
The above sentence is from the letter to Congress as is enough to make this blogger throw up, it also
however helps make my point as you will see below. Morongobill

The newslink is here. You can download the letter in pdf file format here.

Or you can read the letter to the House Committee on Natural Resources below in its’ entirety(converted into a text file and pasted into this page) below
as kindly done by my new associate, Senor Tortuga, who has a vested interest in all this. Feel free to search this site for “senor tortuga” to understand what I am talking about.

----------------------- Page 1-----------------------

May 26, 2011

The Honorable Doc Hastings
Chairman, House Committee on Natural Resources
1324 Longworth House Office Building
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20215

The Honorable Edward Markey
Ranking Member, House Committee on Natural Resources
1329 Longworth House Office Building
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20215

Dear Mr. Chairman and Ranking Member Markey:

On   behalf   of   the   Natural   Resources   Defense   Council,  The   Wilderness   Society,    and   Defenders   of
Wildlife   we   are   writing   to   express   our   strong   support   for   renewable   energy   development   on   the
public lands.    Our collective organizations believe that this nation must embrace renewable energy
as a paramount strategy in order to reduce global warming pollution and increase economic and
job growth, while also ensuring energy security.            We also want to share with the Members of this
Committee our experience that the application of consistent environmental review in concert with
a thoughtful planning process are essential elements in successfully deploying renewable energy to
scale.    Meeting  our  country’s  energy  needs  with  clean  renewable  energy  requires  significant 
investments that must be undertaken immediately, but these investments must not jeopardize and
devalue our nation’s commitment to conserve this country’s incomparable natural heritage.

In a dramatically short time, our nation has seen the unprecedented expansion of wind, solar, and
geothermal generation across the land.           Over the last two years, during one of the worst economic
crises  of  recent   history,   the   installed   capacity   of   wind   generated   energy   in   this   country   grew   by
60%.    Much   of   the   growth  —  present,   past,   and   future  —  has  or  will  take  place  on  the  nation’s 
resource rich public lands.       This is represented by the Department of the Interior’s (DOI) pledge to
establish an enduring commitment to tap renewable energy resources, especially as compared to
those   of   previous   administrations.    In   just   two   years,   DOI   has   permitted   more   renewable   energy
projects than ever before, with many additional projects proposed for development on public lands
for   2011   and   2012.  The   figure   below   displays   the   magnitude   of   this   increase   over   the   last   two
years.   In   2010   alone,   nine   solar   energy   projects,   one   wind   project,   and   two   geothermal   projects
were permitted on public lands in the West, for a combined capacity of nearly 4,000 megawatts of
power.    We are supportive of the effort to transition to a renewable energy future, and commend
the   Bureau   of   Land   Management   (BLM)   for   the   unprecedented   effort   to   permit   utility-scale   solar
and wind projects in CA and Nevada in 2010.            We will continue to work cooperatively with the BLM
and   other  federal, state  and   local   agencies   in seeking   opportunities for   renewable   energy   project
development that are appropriately located in the right   areas (including on lands that have been


----------------------- Page 2-----------------------

previously       disturbed     lands    such    as  brownfields),      environmentally        sustainable      and   do    not
undermine our efforts to conserve wildlife and natural resources.

But after years of inattention and inactivity, we must consider that renewable energy permits are
being evaluated and reviewed by a BLM system that was not originally conceived for these types of
technologies       in   mind.      This   makes     environmental        laws,    including    especially     the   National
Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), indispensable to ensure that projects are built in a manner that
maximizes   their   energy   potential   while   avoiding   impacts   that   would   undermine   the   viability   of
sensitive   environmental   resources.         As   40   years   of   experience   has   demonstrated,   NEPA   provides
the   tools   to   ensure   that   decisions   on   federally   funded   or   authorized   projects   are   made   with   the
highest     quality   information      on  a  range    of  alternatives    and   with    public   input   from    concerned
individuals      and   affected    communities.       Rather      than   being    a  hindrance     to   development,       our
experience      in  working     with   developers,     utilities,  financiers,   and    the  federal   agencies     on  these
projects, is that NEPA provides an essential blueprint to guide the approval process.                        In fact, NEPA
ensures      that  these   renewable      energy    projects    are   stronger,    more    resilient,  and    less  likely  to
experience delays later in the process.

Furthermore,        early   stakeholder     engagement       established     through     the  NEPA     process    saves    the
government money by identifying resource conflicts early, which leads to fully informed decisions.
The   only   way   to   secure   the   successful   deployment   of   clean   renewable   energy   is   to   ensure   that
projects   proposed   in   the   future   are   as   efficient,   cost   effective,   and   environmentally   attuned   as
possible.    A   robust   planning   and   permitting   process   is   the   key   to   guarantee   that   this   can   come


----------------------- Page 3-----------------------

Unfortunately, those interests long-opposed to NEPA are hiding behind the public’s overwhelming
support for clean, renewable energy in an attempt to shortcut, shortchange, or scuttle NEPA’s core 
provisions.    They put forth a false choice of either protecting our public lands or building renewable
energy quickly.      More specifically, the charge has been made that the NEPA review process, along
with   other   environmental   requirements,  are   restricting   the   pace   and   advancement   of   renewable
energy projects.     We know that this is not true; of the nine solar energy projects permitted in 2010,
the average time for environmental review was 527 days, or 1.4 years.                   The most recent permitting
for renewable projects that received  BLM’s “fast-track” status took an average of 423 days, or 1.1 
years   to   reach   a   final   record   of   decision. This   is   well   within  other   permitting   time   frames   for
similarly sized projects, consistent with the timetables set out in government guidance documents,
and is remarkable given that these projects are unique in scale and complexity.

We agree with you, though, in that the subject of today’s hearing is critically important as we have 
indeed seen actual “roadblocks” that prevent more solar, geothermal, and wind projects to proceed
or   move at  a   quicker   pace,  namely, uncertainty in financing  and  first-of-a-kind   technology at   this
scale.  One of these factors is the uncertainty that exists around the prospective status concerning
federally backed   financial   incentives   critically   necessary   to   ensure   that   this  nascent   industry  can
compete   domestically.       For   example,   the   Ivanpah   Solar   Electric   Generating   System   and   the   Blue
Mountain Geothermal project received renewable energy loan guarantees from the Department of
Energy   that   were   critical   to   their   successful   permitting. Development   of   utility-scale   renewable
energy     projects   will   benefit   greatly  from     predictable    and    consistent    governmentally       backed
incentives that put them on a level playing field with other more mature energy sources.

Our     conservation     organizations      understand     these    critical  needs,    and  to   that   end  we    have
aggressively supported financial and tax incentives that would secure a predictable growth path for
renewables.  Among these programs and incentives, we have supported:

              Extensions of production and investment tax credits;
              Extension of the highly successful 1603 Treasury Grant Program;
              Legislation such as the “10 Million Solar Roofs and 10 Million Gallons of Solar Water 
              Heating Act of 2010;”
              The Department of Energy’s Section 1705 Loan Guarantee Program;
              Test facilities to ensure a transition to commercial scale;
              Measures to improve planning and avoid speculative permit applications; and
              Multiple pieces of legislation to address the backlog in permits.


----------------------- Page 4-----------------------

We have learned a great deal from our past experiences with conventional and renewable energy
development.      Most   importantly,   we   have   learned   that   a   strategic   and   coordinated   approach   to
designing energy generation and transmission at the beginning stages of project planning not only
facilitates   energy   development,   but   also   help   preserve   the   rich   natural   and   cultural   heritage   that
our public lands provide.     If we are to reach our common goal of successfully and efficiently meeting
our country’s energy needs with clean renewable energy, we must focus our attention on the true
barriers   to   renewable energy   deployment,  such   as  financing and   technology.       By committing   to  a
framework   that   includes   thoughtful   planning   and   siting   processes,   we   can   conserve  our  nation’s 
natural    treasures   while   also  enjoying   the  considerable     benefits  associated    with  a  new   energy
economy that is predicated upon the utilization of clean renewable energy.

Our organizations are fully committed to working with you on these timely issues and appreciate
your strong leadership in this regard.  Thank you for your consideration of this statement.

Johanna Wald
Western Renewable Energy Project
Natural Resources Defense Council

Pamela Pride Eaton
Deputy Vice President, Public Lands
The Wilderness Society

Jim Lyons
Senior Director for Renewable Energy
Defenders of Wildlife

End of quoted letter text.

Warning strong language may follow as I offer my analysis of the above
exercise in bullshit and obfuscation.

My very first visceral reaction is to the use of that beloved word, at least to me,
conservation, as in conservation organizations used to describe themselves. Granted, the NRDC has spent millions of dollars making their Santa Monica headquarters building a state-of-the-art energy conserving building, but that goodwill only goes so far when you link that action with their actions to encourage the building of the Ivanpah SEGS, which singlehandedly will result in the death of at least 1,000+ desert tortoises, an endangered species.

Need I remind you readers that Johanna Wald who signed this letter on behalf of the NRDC, along with her old buddy Carl Zichella formerly of the Sierra Club and now also with the NRDC, were in from the very beginning helping formulate the rules which setup these energy developments on public land,
especially as it pertained to the California Energy Commission, which permits those projects?

As you just read here the other day, the Ivanpah project construction has been given the green light to proceed by the BLM and only Western Watershed’s
lawsuit stands in the way to prevent total buildout of the project, a slim straw to grasp and hold onto as the last barrier to total environmental destruction of the Ivanpah Valley.

I am sure all of you after reading the above letter has no doubt where these
”conservation organizations” stand as pertaining to energy development on
public lands----- their attitude could be restated as follows:

Damn the tortoises! Full speed ahead!

Some reading this missive may feel that I am being unfair to these groups as
usual, or that perhaps being a bus driver, I might not have enough savvy or
intellectual ability to understand all the various machinations going on in the
energy development arena, etc etc- all to which, I say:

In my humble opinion, these groups are no more conservation groups
than Joe Biden is an expert on what is or isn’t government waste.

These groups have bought into the carbonmentalism movement hook, line, and sinker. There is no talking to them, they aren’t listening, they
have become so full of themselves, so inflated with self importance, that
they are willing to sacrifice Ivanpah, or any other wildplace, if it will slake
their lust for carbon reduction!
These groups are no more conservationist
than the corporations they go to on bended knee for the donations needed to
keep up their “good works.”

They may have some of you fooled, but not me. These guys are about as phony as a 3$ bill, in my view. Take NEPA for example. My how they wax so
eloquently in the above letter about how glorious NEPA is and how blah,blah,blah- the truth of the matter, at least in my opinion, is that their actions have probably done more to weaken the NEPA statute than a platoon of right wingers and their attorneys could have accomplished, even if the Koch
brothers had funded the effort. Same with their comments about the length of the environmental review, start with a flawed system and follow it, why be
surprised when there is a flawed outcome?

I am sure a third reading will yield other laughable, absurd statements, but these will do for now.

Lest anyone think that I am speaking otherwise, I am writing this as my opinion
of what is going on here. I am not speaking for anyone else, nor do I have any reason to hold back- I ain’t buddies with any of the above folks mentioned, and to be brutally honest, if I met them at a cocktail party, an interesting conversation, possibly to the other guests, might occur which might have some colorful or obscene language in it. That’s how strongly this blogger feels about where the deserts and wilderness may be going, thanks to conservation groups like the above.

Speaking of Biden, the above reference was to his comments on the White House blog, where he talked about what a waste it was for the government to have a website up devoted to the desert tortoise, among other things. By the way folks, evidently it costs around $125 per year to keep the site up. Contrast that to the $1.3 BILLION + the government gave to BrightSource Energy to build Ivanpah, causing the direct deaths of 1,000+ tortoises as predicted by the Fish and Wildlife biological report--------

Note to Joe Biden. How about you go back to stealing borrowing other politician’s speeches and calling them your own, and leave the poor desert tortoise alone. This blogger thinks you and the president have done quite enough to them already, you dig?

I swear these politicians think we elected them God or something.

Who knows, the illustrious carbonmentalist of the year, Alexis de la Madrigal over at the Atlantic may weigh in next on the Biden comments or on the above letter- I am sure we are all waiting most anxiously for that magazine issue to come out- great material for use in the outhouse, if you catch my drift. Why waste the Sears catalogue?

The above is an inside joke for the benefit of my long time blog readers, search
Madrigal on the sidebar, to get in on it.

That’s it, I can’t take another minute of this whole situation of the noted conservation groups and their attitudes toward the desert.

I think I’m about to hurl.


Monday, June 13, 2011

Last nail hammered into the Ivanpah Valley cross, this blogger sincerely doubts there will be a resurrection.

The long awaited and anticipated biological report has been released by FWS
and acted upon immediately by the BLM which has lifted the suspension of
construction which it had imposed upon units 2 and 3, work having been allowed to continue upon unit 1 all along.

Of interest to readers possibly is that Western Watershed’s lawsuit against the project is still ongoing regardless.

This is all beside the point, of course. This fight is over.

The deserts and wilderness are about to all be hoisted up on the cross of so
called “green renewable energy.”
Take it to the bank, I have been wrong a
time or two, but not this time.

Despite the best attempts of some conservationists and others, the fight against these boondoggles never gained traction with most policy makers, nor the public at large. How could it, looking in hindsight, when insiders in government, industry, and environmental groups had already locked in the rules, making the outcome a slam dunk for them, and then, these same environmental groups, for example, did their very best to silence any and all dissent from within their ranks, many of whom opposed the sellout, but whose voices were ignored.

I have gone over this many times in the past, let me just say for those new surfing over to the backporch that names like Zichella and Wald can be searched on this site, if you need the details and don’t mind wallowing in the slime.

Let me put on my prediction hat, put myself out there for ridicule. Earlier I said this fight was over. Here is what will happen. Simply put, the court battle now is really about future energy projects in my opinion. I doubt there is a federal district judge in this country who would stop construction now, not with all the
forces of government and industry arrayed behind it. And if one did, I believe it
would be swiftly overturned on appeal. The other side has went to great care to line all their ducks up in a row, get all their permits and pieces of paper filed away in their little cubbyholes, all the i’s have been dotted and the t’s are all crossed. This project is going to be built out, no doubt about it, subject to little
changes they’ll toss out like bones to a dog, to preserve the image that it is a benign green project which will have a minimal impact upon the valley and its’
endangered species.

Then they’ll build out the proposed solar projects to the north of this one and across the valley and the dry lake bed, where two more will go up, ending ultimately in the complete and total industrialization of this end of the Ivanpah Valley, and of course sealing the tortoise’s doom in the future when this climate change is supposed to kick in; but after all, some have to sacrifice so that others can live in the style that they are used to, energy guzzlers that they are.

It goes without saying that the above predictions could absolutely be derailed if we encountered severe economic turbulence in the form of a severe recession or depression, so we could could keep our fingers crossed; at the rate our government is borrowing from Peter to pay Paul, it might happen.

Folks, I got burned out on this a long time ago, once I figured out what was going to happen. Once I figured out the “fix was in and nothing that we could do would change the outcome” I quit blogging as much about it.

But I remember sounding the alarm from the very beginning, even though it was a pitifully small cry not heard by many, that the time to strike is before the opponent masses his forces, strike at a time of your choosing, instead of letting him complete his buildup, and then turn upon you.

The time for action and the course of action, should have been a large scale legal assault upon this project, by the major environmental and conservation groups, joined by others of like mind, before the first spade of dirt was dug--- remember what we are talking about here, unproven and money losing companies using uncertain technology, all in a dice throw against a beer soaked alley wall somewhere on skid row, hoping not to get snake eyes! With our government and our tax money acting as the house banker!

Perhaps a major legal brawl might have brought the government bureaucrats and policy makers to their senses in time to pull the plug on the projects, and take a real serious look at other alternatives like distributed power generation.
If nothing else, it would have mobilized the republican opposition in DC and state capitals to get involved, all working to kill the projects. This ain’t brain surgery folks, if a damned bus driver can figure this out, surely those rocket scientists over at the Sierra Club or the NRDC might have been able to, if they would just get out from behind their computer screens and venture out to the desert wilderness, and get connected with their inner conservationists!

But of course, now these groups have been exposed as frauds for all to see, so maybe some good will come from this. These groups don’t have a conservationist bone in their bodies, based on the evidence presented by their own conduct in this Ivanpah example. It sure seems to me that they will sellout any wilderness, let animal and plant species pay any price, even to the point of giving up their very existence upon this planet, so that these green groups can show the world how tough they are at stopping global warming and climate change. Whether it works or not, whether it is needed or not, we others
must sacrifice so that we can find out whether our climate models are right or not.

It is an absolute disgusting shame and an abomination that these sellouts are still running the show at their groups, but it’s ultimately the members who are responsible for their staying or going. My feeling is thanks to all the propaganda flowing down at them from the top, the members probably don’t even have a clue. One day when the wilderness is finally all built out, covered with turbines and solar panels,crisscrossed with service roads and other evidence of “civilization,”maybe then they will know what was perpetrated in their name, and on their behalf, by their so called visionary leaders.

This blogger is heartsick over this and as money permits, will keep visiting
remaining desert areas and writing about them, photographing them for others
to remember years from now, as in truth, some may not be around much longer.

Having visited the desert for years, I have seen the scars upon the land from mining, from homesteading, ranching, off-roading, etc but I am telling you-none of the above has had the long term effects that these gigantic mega solar and wind farms will have--- scraping away the vegetation, killing off the animals, sucking up the last remaining fossil water below in the aquifers below, it just seems that we humans are hell bent on fouling our own nests, and there may be no hope for stopping this behavior.

Sorry to be so negative, but sometimes you just have to call it as you see it.

The beautiful and verdant Ivanpah Valley is being crucified, the cross has been hoisted up, the dying is inevitable but will take some more excruciating pain to be endured first, and I don’t believe it will ever be resurrected.


A late night addition to this post 6/14/11:

Folks, I wrote this in a hurry as I was almost late for work. This has had parts reworked late this evening and I hope it will flow more smoothly.
Sometimes my fingers are faster than my brain.
The message though is unchanged- I am sorry to be so negative, but nothing I have seen so far leads me to feel otherwise.
If you never have, or haven't visited a wilderness area lately, I ask you to do so quickly.
And ask yourself while you are walking through the pines, or hiking through the creosote bush, would it be the same if the land was covered with mirrors?
Can't we just leave those places alone for future generations to enjoy?
Is nothing sacred anymore, or is everything in this land for sale?

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The legendary Gerry’s Barber Shop in Long Beach has closed after 20 years.

I got turned on to the coolest, hippest barber shop- maybe in the whole world- by my uncle, Alfred Hayes, almost a decade ago. His friend, Gerry, ran the place for decades. The shop was located near the corner of Spring Street and
Bellflower Boulevard in Long Beach, part of a strip mall that included everything from a bicycle store, to a christian book store, and a fitness club, more on that later.
6-13-2011. Update. I dropped by Gerry’s home for a visit and
found out that his mother and Christine; mentioned and pictured in this post, both passed away in 2010. I was very sorry to hear this.

Recently a good friend, Tad Birdwell, said that he had driven by the barbershop a couple of times and he thought it had closed. I had fallen out of touch with Gerry and my last visit was actually sometime around the fall of 2010 I believe. I immediately drove over and here is what I found.
gerrysbarbershop 003

And another showing the inside.
gerrysbarbershop 006

Now I was really stumped as I figured the only way Gerry would ever leave this
place was on his shield, holding his scissors and barber clippers. Walking around, I discovered that the beauty shop and christian bookstore were also emptied out.

I went home and did some research on the net and found an article which verified my hunch that the landlord had forced all of them out, everyone was gone now except for the 24 Hour Fitness and the bicycle shop, way down at the end of the building. The article with all the details can be found here:
Beloved Barbershop, Beauty Parlor Evicted.

The bottom line is that the owner of the shopping center evicted those businesses to allow the fitness center to expand. According to the article, Gerry took it pretty hard, hearing this news about my friend motivated to do more research where I came across this video.

Why did Gerry’s Barber Shop close?

And now an editorial word here. Look folks, even though we lost touch, Gerry was and is a friend of mine. I am not too pleased with this video which casts a very unflattering light on him, in my opinion. It would have been nice to maybe call and make an appointment, or at least warn him that a camera crew was coming over.

What I saw showed a friend who has taken this loss to heart. Going from running a successful barber shop for decades, where he was master of his domain, a place that attracted different types of folks, where by word of mouth, young hip folks would drop in from all over just to see what they had heard about- I can’t let this remain unanswered.

Gerry used to call me the “official photographer” of the barber shop, after I used the words myself a few times first, I must confess Winking smile.

So allow me to share some photographs with you dear readers, and some of
the good times there- after I wipe my eyes.

I am saddened that I was not around for this disgraceful and dishonorable eviction that occurred in December, to think they tossed these folks out after decades with only a 30 day notice- and the damned properties are still empty today! I wouldn’t be surprised if they never get around to expanding the fitness center, considering how the economics are at the moment. Enough of that, on to what I promised you.
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This was my favorite of the hundreds of photo’s I made at Gerry’s. By the way, the photos were made from around
2004 or so on.
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That’s my uncle, Alfred Hayes on the left, Christine and Gerry on the right. Who’s that looking over Gerry’s shoulder?

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My friend, Tad Birdwell, awaiting his turn in the chair. Tad is the one who told me that Gerry’s shop appeared to be closed.
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Gerry’s old car talked about in the article and on the video.
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Gerry in the middle with Miss Genny on the left, and Christine on the right, sorry If I misspelled any names.
This was a film shot scanned to a digital file.The King, Miss Elvira, and Marilyn are looking on.
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Gerry with his bus driver friend Bobby enjoying good times. Bobby was a great guy.
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Gerry kicking back. This was taken with a wide angle lens as you can probably guess.
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Who’s next?
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From time to time, Gerry would bring a band on a Saturday afternoon,
I don’t know how he managed to cut hair, be his own camera man, and run
the whole show!
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Starting a jazz riff!
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Christine and her friend who was a heck of a guitar player!
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Gerry and friend cutting the rug in a place called the jug.
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That’s Johnny of Johnny’s Blues Band in the middle, his wife was the singer in the previous photo of the dance floor.
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Gerry and Miss Genny out friend having lunch in happier times.

I remember the good times. I remember how when I’d saunter in, Gerry would say,”heh Sonny, what’s happening?” When I would get up to leave, he would always say,”time to saddle up?”
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Yes those were good times, not forgotten and I plan on heading over and seeing how things really are, if he plans on staying semi- retired as he said in the video.

I would like to leave you folks with what I feel is one of the best portraits that I have ever done, of my friend, Gerry.
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Vaya con dios, my friends. And take it from one who knows now, keep in touch
with your friends, don’t be a stranger. Learn from my example.