Wednesday, January 16, 2013

War on the West

Castle Gate Power Plant near Price, Utah
The deserts of the American Southwest  are amazing places. They are known for their wide variety of climates from the Great Basin of the north central Southwest, The Colorado Plateau of the central Southwest, the Mojave, Chihuahuan, and Sonoran of the southern Southwestern United States.

All of our deserts have an abundance of resources in them. We enjoy plant life, wildlife, stunning colorful vistas, and countless recreation opportunities.

But our deserts are more than just a natural wonder and recreational hot spot. They are home to some of the greatest resources that we have as Americans.  The Hoover Dam and Glenn Canyon Dam provide control so the Colorado River can be used for irrigation and culinary uses as well as Lake Mead and Lake Powell for recreational purposes. Both giant dams provide clean hydroelectric power to the western power grid serving all the Southwest from Salt Lake City to Los Angeles.

But beneath the deserts are valuable resources such as coal, uranium, natural gas, oil, and other minerals. Coal and natural gas fired power plants provide most of the United States' energy and even a higher percentage in the West.

But over the years all mining activity has come under attack, especially coal and oil. Extreme environmentalists say that the desert lands are being ruined by extraction methods from strip mining, underground mining, hydraulic fracturing, and drilling. Even natural gas is under attack when it comes to exploration and extraction of this cheap fuel source.

Companies have spent billions to make mineral extraction cleaner and more environmentally friendly over the decades. But modernizing power plants with technologies, reducing mining footprints, environmental restoration, and clean up from years past are not enough to stop the whining and moaning.

The truth is that big environment, which consists of groups like the Sierra Club, politicians, and left leaning no growth crowds have created American dependence on foreign oil and other commodities used for fuel.

The Keystone Pipeline from Canada has been stymied in Washington, DC by the political interests and the politicians on both sides of the aisle and President Obama. America has not been allowed to exploit the desert's vast resources due to misinformation and half truths.

Yesteryear examples such as Uranium mining are brought up and propagandized as dangerous today like they were in the 1950's. Coal faces the same attacks in spite of evidence to the contrary. Even our great dams like Glen Canyon are seriously considered being torn down in the name of restoration and conservation.

Our coal fired power plants are having EPA regulations placed on them so as to shut them down under the false disguise of "greenhouse gasses" killing the planet and other pollutants. The purposes are not environmental, but political.

California, a leader in this fight against resource development still imports a quarter of it's power from coal fired power plants in surrounding states, while banning coal fired plants in California. But threaten to pull California's coal fired power lines they are ready to sue.

The war on American desert resources is a problem that has global impacts. The power grid is being shut down in the name of wind and solar power which are over advertised as "alternatives" to other forms of power, especially fossil fuels.

But I live near wind farms. Sometimes the wind does not blow. When there is no wind, no electricity.  Solar power is great when it is sunny.  Cloudy days reduce solar cells ability to capture sunlight. So does winter which reduces daylight hours. Solar power cannot be obtained at night, but must use the battery stores accumulated during the day. Sometimes these batteries aren't charged fully and run out of power.

I am no enemy of wind and solar power, but they are supplemental at best and cannot replace fast producing power plants like coal, gas, and hydro power.

Our deserts are the battleground where the public policy wars are carried out. Just as in real war propaganda, misinformation, and ignorance are vital to winning. He who controls the knowledge, controls the power, literally.

In an economy where jobs are needed in these industries, the very people are claiming to befriend these hard working men and women while destroying their livelihoods and the potential for more income to be generated.

Green jobs have not produced what the energy market needs to thrive. Private land holders and leasers of federal lands already in production have stepped up to keep up with demands, but government also goes after private landowners, state lands, and the like in the name of saving planet Earth.

Did you know that nuclear power, the same power that ended World War II, can produce clean energy with  enriched uranium from our own deserts?  Some will claim cancer causing radioactivity, but miners are kept away from the harmful levels by machines, better outerwear that is radioactive proof, and mining practices.

Yet unlike Europe, most of the United States remains tied to coal and other fuels for power majority. This is not bad, but a nuclear power development in the West could lead to job creation and enhance our energy portfolio. Wind and solar are needed to supplement the electric grid, but supplement, not replace proven, reliable sources of power and energy.

Where is that electric car going to take you? I'll buy one when I can charge it in the time it takes to fill a gasoline powered car to recharge the battery. That technology is not on the market.

In summary we can have beautiful deserts and exploit the resources under and above the desert floor. We have more oil under our soil than Saudi Arabia does. Our friends in Canada are more than happy to send cheap oil to America, but the Obama Administration is more interested in golf than energy policy.

Many of my counterpart desert bloggers argue against development of desert resources. I support their responsible extraction, refinement, and shipment to market to be consumed. We are not in danger of running out of resources. We are discovering new one's all the time. The same politicians that won't allow NASA to send us back to the Moon and on to Mars are the same one's who "just say no" to development of our natural resources. I pray that education and not indoctrination can get passed the media and out to the public.

If we as the American People and the States do nothing the no growth and flat earth lobbies will sell the people a bill of goods based on half truths and outright lies.

Deserts are multiple use places. It is time to put them into production and protect them as good stewards at the same time. It can and eventually will be done. Will we get ourselves ready in time? That is the question.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Cactus Ring

Powered by WebRing.