PSR Relax

Dear Readers,

On our popular Death Valley Talk forum I recently threw this log on the campfire:

"Trona and the DRECP:  Scenarios 4 thru 6 have Trona being consumed by a Renewable Energy Development Focus Area. See:"

Regular contributor "" responded:

"So does this mean that under scenarios 4 thru 6 that developers would have a green light to construct solar farms in and around Trona?"

I thought some of you might be interested in my extended reply:

Short answer -- yes.

Read more: DRECP and Trona

I join California Senator Dianne Feinstein in applauding BrightSource Energy's decision to scrap plans to build a massive, 5,130-acre, 500-megawatt solar energy power production plan at Broadwell Lake. The Senator is considering introducing legislation that would include the area within a new national monument and preclude alternate energy and other development.

Broadwell Lake is a regular destination for many of's readers. This unique recreational treasure is a high-point destination along the 85 mile long Tonopah and Tidewater Railroad birm, the last north-south, multiday, expedition-quality, motorized backcountry route in the California desert.

Numerous recreation enthusiasts frequent the Broadwell Lake to enjoy a number of backcountry activities, such as gem & mineral collecting, hunting, OHV and 4x4 touring, history seeking, wildlife watching, equestrian riding and more.

I also agree with Senator Feinstein when she said "there is enough in the California desert for both" conservation and renewable energy.  However, while Broadwell Lake may have been one of BrightSource's most economically profitable sites, it is also one of the least appropriate.

Solar energy development in California is largely driven by artificial state mandates that now have utilities increasing their use of expensive renewable energy.

It's a dubious legacy of a state government that can't maintain its highways or keep felons in prison but can arrogantly assign itself the responsibility of curing “climate change” by destroying its citizens' economy.

The tools to fast-track this renewable energy development include preferential regulatory treatment by federal and state agencies along with government “stimulus” incentives, tax breaks and loan-guarantee subsidies.

The costs of all of this will be fully realized when the electric bills come due in the near future. That indicates that this is hardly being driven by economics, but rather by politics. And the politics of saving the planet derive from the same movement that ostensibly tries to protect the environment from the impacts of development.

Read more: Sacrificing the Desert for What?

Within the boundary of Death Valley National Park pets must remain within 100 feet of a road, picnic area or campground, and they must remain on a leash at all times.  I've written on this subject before.  But outside Park boundaries, on lands regulated by the Bureau of Land Management, pets are allowed as long as they remain under your control.

Therefore, bringing the family dog along on desert camping trips and adventures is popular.  Especially during upland game bird season it is actually common to come across parties in the backcountry with their dogs. Our dog seems to enjoy camping and exploring in the desert as much as we do.  But it is possible to loose track of your pup, particularly the younger dogs, or the more scent oriented breeds. Nobody wants to loose their dog in the backcountry.

Read more: Keeping Track of Pooch

Editor's Note: Washington D.C. and Sacramento lawmakers and regulators are currently developing a blueprint for solar and wind energy development across the California desert.  This Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan, or DRECP, is slated for completion in June of 2012.  Below are public comments that were recently offered to the DRECP Stakeholder Group on November 18, 2010, reprinted by permission.

Thank you all for continuing to fight the tyranny of charts, graphs, and PowerPoint to work towards enlightened consensus. When I think of California’s desert, I think about a slow, quiet, and hardy place. A place that is as biologically and geologically dynamic as we have in the United States. I think of families of quail; babies with floppy plumes, horned lizards invisible against their habitat, and creosotes born in the Pleistocene going strong.

Read more: Fighting the Tyranny of Charts

Today I was filing away some of the old emails that had built up in my in box and I came across a Bakersfield Californian article from February 5, 2003.  OK, so some of the emails in my in box are VERY old, and its original sender has been long deceased.  But, I digress.  My point is that re-reading quotes and predictions from five years ago can yield great insight on people's credibility today.

The article, entitled "Road rules concern activists", reported on a rule adopted by the Bush administration Interior Department that was to "make it easier for states and local governments to claim title to roads on federal lands."  Motorized access advocates often refer to such roads as RS2477 routes, a name reflecting the intent of a 1972 federal law which protects historic, established routes of travel from being closed.

Let's look at two quotes from this article of five years ago and see which prediction was more accurate.

Read more: Editorial - Predictions and Credibility