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View Diary: [UPDATED] CA-11/Pombo: Jerry McNerney responds to Jerome a Paris (154 comments)

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  •  Point by Point (3+ / 0-)
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    Moli, johnnygunn, Land of Enchantment

    I'm not a wind power expert, but I am a committed environmentalist and conservationist, with a particular animus toward coal-burning plants, who is not at all convinced by Jerome and others that "Big Wind" is all it's cracked up to be.

    I've said in other diaries that I do think at this stage some wind applications may be beneficial (especially locally-controlled, smaller-scale, thoughtfully-sited ones). And I'd add that of course more research and development may yield far better results from this technology.

    That said, here are some frank reactions to your four main points:

    1. First of all, we need to address global warming. There are a few who believe that global warming is fiction, but like those who believe in ID, they are overwhelmed by the evidence. Global warming is real and is starting to have a direct impact on humans. Climate change is accelerating.

    RESPONSE: Just because Bush, Cheney and  the oil/coal/gas lobbies are lying, corrupt sacks of municipal waste does not automatically mean that wind power is a good thing. One does not have to be a Global Warming denier to question the efficacy of Big Wind.

    1. Wind power does not generate greenhouse gasses. It is true that little of our electricity is generated by oil, but much of our electricity is generated by natural gas, another commodity we depend upon from foreign countries. Wind and other forms of renewable energy will reduce this dependence. We can also reduce oil usage by moving to plug-in hybrids which use electricity as mentioned above.

    RESPONSE: I own a Prius, and would be interested in a plug-in version. However,  electricity still has to come from somewhere... and for now would probably come from a dirty coal- or somewhat cleaner gas-burning power plant. That means chopping off more mountain tops, or drilling in more wildlife refuges. Meeting even a small portion of America's existing energy needs with current wind technology is a challenge already. If millions of Americans switched to plug-in cars, how many wind turbines would be necessary to fuel (in the phrase of Jim Kunstler) our "culture of easy motoring"? We should continue to pursue alternatives to reduce greenhouse gases, but until Americans grossly curtail our wasteful travel habits.

    1. Wind power and renewable energy in general generates local jobs. (This was already discussed in some detail by Jerome.)

    RESPONSE: In my experience analyzing economic impacts of major industrial projects in my region, such jobs are often promised but rarely materialize. They turn out to be mostly during temporary construction phases, and prove rather paltry over the long term -- only going to local people if politicians and the public work very hard to secure guarantees that they do so. The bigger and more industrial the project (of any kind) the less likely that local people needing work will get the nod. And, the best-paying jobs are the ones most likely to go to people already within the company who transfer from elsewhere.

    1. Wind power is cost effective and the cost will not increase with the cost of natural resources. The more wind energy a utility uses, the more its customers will be insulated from the cost of oil or natural gas.

    RESPONSE:Despite blizzards of posts by various wind proponents, I've yet to be convinced that it's cost-effective,  especially when one takes into account the full panoply of economic and societal impacts -- except in the relative sense. (It's hard to imagine any energy system that, in the long run, taking into account all impacts together, than would not make more sense than oil/gas/coal.)  I'm not saying that relative doesn't count -- we have to make changes, starting with our own habits. I'm moving toward solar and geothermal on my home, I don't eat meat, I shop locally, and rarely travel. That's what little I can do on my own.

    Couple of other questions/thoughts:

    • What hydro-electric opportunities are still untapped? I rarely hear them mentioned anymore, but the guy who runs my local electric supply shop -- I know, I know, hardly an expert source -- is always complaining about why how we jingoistically keep refusing to buy hydro from Canada.
    • Hypothetically, let's say that the U.S. committed to switching over to 100% wind power. How much acreage would be necessary for turbines to achieve this? And, if all our cars were plug-ins, how much additional acreage would be necessary? I'm not asking to be a wise guy -- I'm seriously curious to know, from those who believe wind works. Convince me.

    "Animals are my friends--and I don't eat my friends." (G.B. Shaw) Click to read my diaries

    by Hudson on Sun May 14, 2006 at 08:28:25 PM PDT

    •  Thank You (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Land of Enchantment

      Thank you very much for asking questions that will get you into a whole heap o' trouble here a DKos.  Sign me "Skeptical" - -

    •  and (0+ / 0-)

      how much climatalogical damage is possible?

    •  I've seen reports that most large-scale hydro (2+ / 0-)

      opportunities have already been investigated by now.  That may just be hearsay, but it's appeared as a directional statement on government sites related to energy generation opportunities, in addition to indepedent analysis sites.

      Smaller hydro - e.g., to support communities - is apparently considered a more feasible option in those regions where it can be established.

      Of course, hydro doesn't come without some costs of its own:


      Hydroelectric projects flood large tracts of land, have major impacts on river systems and cause the release of both methane (a greenhouse gas) and mercury (a toxic heavy metal). . .

      Unexpected seismic events have even cropped up due to such work, and the startup investment (for larger projects, at least) can be significant.

      Those high-level summaries don't begin to express the kinds of fights which occur between groups such as farmers, local residents, land investors, energy investors, governments, wildlife conservationists, environmentalist, etc.  See information on the James Bay project for an example of these conflicts in bringing a large-scale hydro plant to reality.

      So, please stay where you are. Don't move and don't panic. Don't take off your shoes! Jobs is on the way.

      by wader on Sun May 14, 2006 at 10:14:37 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Pombo's pushing a new dam (3+ / 0-)
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        gogol, wader, AmericanRiverCanyon

        which I've heard described as a major boondoggle.  Together with John Doolittle, one Auburn Dam.  Don't know many details.  Dams have bad impacts on natural hydrology, and especially on fish (food source).

        •  our rivers are already fucked up enough (1+ / 0-)
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          we don't need any more dams. We have to fight against the farmers to restore the rivers that have been siphoned off by the dams we have now, so I ain't supporting any more dams

          just letting you know that

          and btw, the Auburn Dam preposal sucks even without my radical anti-dam position

          •  Boink! Did someone mention Vampire Dam again? (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            knowthings, wader

            and btw, the Auburn Dam proposal sucks even without my radical anti-dam position

            The one DooDoo and Pombo want to put over the earthquake fault upstream from another big dam so if one goes you get a two-fer of mass floodin'-n- destruction?

            In 1962, The Bureau of Reclamation submitted its plans for Auburn Dam to Congress. 44 years and multiple redesign deaths later, the thing continues to be resurrected as a (shudder) "good idea", only asking that the taxpayers of the future suspend belief in gravity, geology, siesmic fault zones, earthquakes, levees, the ability of people downstream to swim suddenly in icewater, mercury, asbestos, finance, actual cost, returns on investments, and amount of water available.  But hey, if you have


            that the geologic history of the earth can be massaged with developer's campaign contributions, this is your project. The advocates blithely assure us that the thing... will pay for itself. Recall the last time this Republican administration used that phrase, before the invasion of Iraq, and ask yourself if you really want to spend billions of dollars invading Auburn, California and flooding the RECREATION AREA which thousands of people already use quite happily without the dam inundating the canyon.

            (a new motto for Auburn..."We are Not Terrorists")

            In the 44 years since Vampire Dam was proposed, the population of the area has doubled and tripled, and the canyon, once scarred and beat up by gold mining, has grown huge trees, flora, and fauna and become beautiful again, and an incredible park and recreation area for the locals and its many visitors. Which then makes it a threat to the general Republican philosophy of voting against using taxpayer's money to let people enjoy themselves on public land. If you think I'm making this up, just read the campaign brochure I received in the mail recently from a local Republican candidate for county office who considers his opponent's support of buying and setting aside park land for Placer Legacy un-Republican.

            Putting the Vampire in would drown out most of the rec area, the wildlife, the plants, birds, trees, the majestic canyon, the whitewater river, and severely curtail the access to what is left of it because THAT part would back up to private access only subdivisions. It's outrageous in the scope of its greediness, aside from its ludicrous location...sitting on top of the earthquake fault.  That is why the thing is so expensive and has gone thru so many's just a crappy location for a dam. Nothing can change this.  

            Pombo (and Doolittle) needs to get-gone-long-out of here. All he would have to do is start slipping in more of that "kill the Endangered Species Act" sort of crap in some obscure House Bill, redefining how the scientific studies are done, and tweak some flood studies, and the thing would have no science behind it.

            And THAT would be the most frightening thing of all.


            •  And here Pombo just won an award from... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              ...the faux Annapolis Center for Science-Based Public Policy.  For his excellent role in promoting/using science for public policy.

              NOT.  Even the local paper took a shot at that one.  Their version of Cheers & Jeers is caleld Barbs & Bouquets.  This from May 8, 2006:

              BARB: To the Annapolis Center for Science-Based Public Policy, for appearing to be a defender of natural resources, when it is one of the many industry funded groups created to spread misinformation about such issues as global warming, air pollution and toxic health hazards. This spring it honored Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Tracy, for his work as chairman of the House Committee on Resources. One of the center's chief contributors is oil giant ExxonMobil, which contributed more than $700,000 to the organization between 1998 and 2004.

              I take it as a good sign that the Tracy Press isn't kissing up to Pombo like they used to.

              The last two awardees were Congressman Barton (R-TX) and Senator Inhofe (R-OK)

            •  wasn't really sure about that one (0+ / 0-)

              the earthquake fault upstream

              I just wasn't confident enough in my knowledge

              we got fault lines under everything around here, so keeping track of what's already built or gonna be built, on a fault line, is kinda hard to keep straight

              we have a nuclear power plant in California that was built using the wrong earthquake protection scheme, and even worse, the scheme they used was executed in the wrong way (exactly 189 degrees wrong). so essentially, they used the wrong plan, and the plan they did use was laid out backwards

              even when they know, there is no way to ensure that the idiots will actually use the knowledge to our advantage

              •  The Auburn dam would go over the fault(s) that (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                knowthings, Magnifico

       throught the canyon bottom right there. It's why there IS a steep canyon right there, it's a big RIFT in the earth's crust where the Bear Mountain series of faults (Salt Creek, Maidu, Spenceville,Wolf Creek faults) and the Melones fault come together to be the Foothill Fault Zone.  The dam site is made up of all this folded and layered and twisted rock.  If you walk around the area, it's fascinating to see old seafloor shale in a cross cut and then suddenly granite/basalt, quartz, mica, and then green asbestos serpentine, and then again clay and sandstone, all twisted up in where the land has been heaved up out of the earth. (I have some samples on my desk)

                The Geological studies for this dam proposal have been vast, because at the time they proposed it, they just saw it as a big hole in the ground and they didn't realize how rotten it was as a dam foundation site. As a scenic canyon right on the lip of the Sierra range uplift, it is magnificent. There was a 5.7 magnitude earthquake up near the Oroville dam in 1975 that is roughly in the same Foothills fault zone but about 50 miles north, and that made them start doing some serious re-study and redesigning. And re-designing...  The site, it turns out, has so much fault and hole crap in the foundation bedrock for the dam that they have had to do major drilling and filling trying to get it solid enough to HOLD a dam foundation. When a resevoir fills and looses water, it can dramatically change the pressures on the surround bedrock if the water is seeping into underground fissures. And that can cause earthquakes.  

                The Folsom dam, which already exists, is downstream and is on the same river but not directly over a fault system.  The problem with Auburn is that it would probably wipe out Folsom dam if if failed, and then that would be a disaster unimaginable because it would wipe out the city of Sacramento, the state capitol.

                Doolittle tried holding levee maintenance and repair for Sacramento hostage for years unless he got this project restarted again, it was turned down repeated by Congress as too expensive and impractical, the latest being in '92 and '96. So they dithered and dithered on Sac's flood control needs,and  finally came to an agreement in 2003 that they would authorize Folsom dam to be made a little bigger and Sac would finally get levee money. Then Rep. Robert Matsui, D-Sacramento, passed away.  Doolittle promptly expressed horror at the cost of fixing Folsom dam and seemed to forget all about his agreement with Rep. Robert Matsui, and declared the Auburn Dam project to be authorized again in 2006 and going forward because the Bureau of Reclamation never killed it.  Sacramento then began to make stuck-pig squealing sounds along the line of "give us our levee money you promised us!" and Governor Arnold Schwartzeneggar tried to float this gigantic public works bond money package to cover things like that. He didn't get it on the ballot in time, but he got to ride around with Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff in a big helicopter a few times over the river for a photo opp.  Meanwhile, Rep. Doris Matsui, her husband's replacement, gave into the blackmail and said she would not actively oppose Doolittle's earmarking more money to start studying how to build Auburn dam again so Sac could get the levee repair money.

                Pombo and his buddies said at first they were going to study how to do a smaller, cheaper earthworks "dry" dam that would only hold back sudden floodwaters and not be as big. That is when I knew they were seriously drinking the Geologic Koolaid for that particular dam site because that would be so incredibly dangerous to put an earthworks dam in that location, they already HAD had a cofferdam failure at that very site.  An earthern dam would be extremely prone to earthquake failure and flood failure, and the canyon would be periodically flooded and ruined and then drained in the dry season, and would look horrible and be dangerous with loose rock and wood debris, and would wipe out any recreational use of the area. Never fear, now they say they want the Whole Monty, full sized dam they have desired all along, they are just being coy about the cost. If the thing was going to be 3 billion 10 years ago, there is no way it is still going to be only 3 billion to build in 2012.

                They know that. There is no way the thing is ever going to "pay for itself."

    •  100% wind foolish (2+ / 0-)

      I wonder about simple stuff.  Like how much energy could be saved by (solar-, and to a lesser extent wind-powered) clotheslines instead of electric (or gas) clothes dryers?

      Passive solar does wonders.  My home is passive solar and uses as little as 10% the propane of comparably-sized conventional homes in the area.  Toss in a passive solar water pre-heat and a clothesline, and household energy costs are modest.  Biggest item being the 240v pump to bring water up from the well.  Would like to do a cistern and solar pump some day.  Windows and skylights so you turn lights on less often.  

      But all these things will still have production and transport-related energy costs added on.  As do the windmills.  So oil will still effect.

    •  For someone who hate big coal (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      You sure spend a lot of time trashing wind power - without giving any argument.

      You say you don't think wind power makes economic sense. I have provided hard numbers repeatedly, and I most recently debunked the claims in the paper you provided agaisnt wind. My whole job is based on wind economics making sense.

      Will you provide the numbers that create that doubt in your mind, or is it just your "gut" feeling?

      In any case, you'd be a lot more effective in fighting coal by actually writing against coal-fired power rather than by writing against wind power. I have not seen a single diary or comment against coal in your dKos postings. Why is that?

      Instead, you write strawmen like "let's say that the U.S. committed to switching over to 100% wind power." which is not what we advocate, which you know full well.

      In the long run, we're all dead (Keynes)
      Read more on the European Tribune - bringing dKos to Europe

      by Jerome a Paris on Mon May 15, 2006 at 02:39:47 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  hate's', not hate, grrrr (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        In the long run, we're all dead (Keynes)
        Read more on the European Tribune - bringing dKos to Europe

        by Jerome a Paris on Mon May 15, 2006 at 02:40:37 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  More invective from Jerome (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Jerome a Paris


        I've asked a few, responsible wind power opponents that I know to respond.

        I've pointed people to a large trove of documentation from one organization, Green Berkshires, which answers many of your questions (though you continue to focus on just those documents which you feel prepared to rebut).

        And I've been more than kind to you, Jerome, despite your hectoring, belligerent tone and gross overestimation of  the convincingness of your arguments.

        The strong impression left by your recent tirades is that you simply cannot abide being disagreed with. Take it easy, dude

        If you're really right, you wouldn't need to be so bombastic about making your case.

        "Animals are my friends--and I don't eat my friends." (G.B. Shaw) Click to read my diaries

        by Hudson on Mon May 15, 2006 at 11:44:12 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Also (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Jerome a Paris

        (1) One can be obviously be against coal and also question industrial wind power. Setting up an either/or dichotomy, where people must choose one or the other, is intellectually suspect.

        (2) I have indeed stated that I am opposed to coal, and my own history as an activist -- real world activism, taking on and beating major corporate interests, not just ranting about it -- proves that. For you to raise such a false argument, as if to insinuate that I'm some kind of mole for the coal industry, is again intellectually suspect.

        (3) Why can't you answer the question of how much wind power would be necessary to meet our energy needs, since all other forms of energy are no good? If you don't want to answer that hypothetical, then break it down: How much acreage per percentage point of U.S. consumption?

        Or do you just want to insult and belittle your opponents?

        "Animals are my friends--and I don't eat my friends." (G.B. Shaw) Click to read my diaries

        by Hudson on Mon May 15, 2006 at 11:49:34 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

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