advice from a fake consultant

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Sunday, April 29, 2007

On Fighting Geothermal Energy, Or, This Is The Irony Of The Week

Suppose I told you that, in this time of energy uncertainty, the Federal Government is planning an alternative energy development.

Suppose I told you that this geothermal development was to be located near major military facilities, and that the troops from those locations are knee deep in Iraq problems.

Suppose I told you that in the communities surrounding the bases there’s a movement to stop the development.

To really make it good, suppose I told you the reason there’s resistance to the idea is because the location is part of an off-road vehicle recreation area.

That’s right, this is literally a fight between supporting our troops, improving our National Security posture, and fighting global warming on the one side; and driving SUVs that tow other vehicles to the desert for recreational oil burning on the other side.

And you kinow what?
That’s not even the biggest irony in this story...

Still reading?

Here’s the deal: the Ocotillo Wells State Vehicular Recreation Areas, which consists of about 80,000 acres of desert that is available for off-road driving, is on the boundary of California’s Imperial and San Diego Counties, and is part of the California State Park system.

There is Federal land (Bureau of Land Management) next door, and the BLM wants to develop a 50MW geothermal facility using Federal and State land. Here’s an aerial image of the site.

The Truckhaven development has a geothermal partner, Iceland America Energy, and they tell us 1200MW of geothermal capacity is currently in production in the region.

As we all know, geothermal energy is not a carbon burning resource, and it is renewable as well (from time to time new geothermal wells are drilled to replace wells currently producing).

Since it replaces imported oil, there’s even a National Security element to the project.

So who wouldn’t like that?

As it turns out, these guys.

San Diego’s off-road enthusiasts, we are told, will be deprived of 14,000+ acres of the current 80,000 acre off-road park, and maybe as much as 40,320 acres.

That sounds serious.
However, the truth is a bit different.

The Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) filed by the BLM presents a slightly different picture. In fact, they report that while 40,320 acres will be “disturbed”, the disturbance will only occur during the construction phase of the project.

Table 2-2 of the DEIS (located on page 52 of the document) indicates 502 acres, at the most, will be permanently removed from the available recreational land resource.

502 acres out of 80,000.

Not much to give up, if you ask me, to support the fights against Global Warming and imported oil.

Public comments are being accepted until April 30th by the BLM, and I would encourage you to drop a note expressing your feelings regarding the need for renewable energy resources.

Here’s the BLM email address:

The good folks at San Diego Off-Road Magazine would also like a copy of the emails sent to the BLM, and they encourage you to send those to:

Finally-remember the irony I promised?
Allow me to deliver.

The opponents of this project have military neighbors, as I mentioned earlier.

Know who?

How about Camp Pendleton, the Marine base, and the Naval facilities in San Diego (only the largest military base in the world, I might add.)

And guess what-when you go to San Diego Off-Road Magazine’s website, the “message” panel at the top left of your screen will read:


That’s right-a magazine devoted to a hobby that is at least tangentially involved with the war the troops getting the free magazine are fighting is trying to rally its own troops to defend the right to recreationally burn oil being fought for by those same troops to whom they're sending the magazines.

Now that’s irony.


Hap Moorii said...

My head's still spinning a bit from that last paragraph, but the irony is pretty staggering. You would think the not-in-my-backyard folks would go away for clean energy, but apparently you just find different folks excercising NIMBY for different reasons. And just recently, we have someone in congress trying to go after wind energy. It makes you wonder if we really want a solution to the oil problem or not.

fake consultant said...

one lesson that we might learn here is that it's not just the oil companies who have an interest in maintaining our "old school" lifestyle.

lots of folks are financially and emotionally invested in a way of life that is quickly becoming anachronistic, but it's hard to let go.

i have empathy for these folks-they find themselves squeezed in several ways, including near-$4 gas, the effort to keep the family doing things together suffering as the chances to camp, or rv, or whatever are reduced, and so much more.

my suspicion is that has something to do with the strident nature of the magazine's objections-and that the goehtermal issues are peripheral to the bigger pressures they are feeling.