Not Blowing In The Wind

There was a bill in the California Assembly that would push California’s the percentage of renewable energy utilities are forced to use from its current 30% to 50%. It’s not going anywhere … yet … but it stands as testimony to environmental blindness.

California’s electric utilities are having a difficult and terribly expensive time trying to reach the 30% renewable energy goal. Trying to get that much expensive wind and solar power into their portfolios is already making electricity more expensive and less reliable – and there’s no evidence its doing a thing to save the planet from climate change. Nevertheless Adam Gray, a Central Valley Democrat, wants to up the state’s game to even more unreasonable levels.

He and his allies might want to read this:

14,000 Abandoned Wind Turbines in the USA

wind farm ruinThe US has had wind farms since 1981, what the left and the green movement don’t want to talk about regarding windmills is (as usual) the truth. The truth is: windmills, like solar panels, break down. And like solar panels, windmills produce less energy before they break down than the energy it took to make them. That’s the part liberals forget: making windmills and solar panels takes energy, energy from coal, oil, and diesel, energy that extracts and refines raw materials, energy that transports those materials to where they will be re-shaped into finished goods, energy to manufacture those goods. More energy than those finished windmills and solar panels will ever produce.

There are many hidden truths about the world of wind turbines from the pollution and environmental damage caused in China by manufacturing bird choppers, the blight on people’s lives of noise and the flicker factor and the countless numbers of birds that are killed each year by these blots on the landscape. The symbol of Green renewable energy, our saviour from the non existent problem of Global Warming, abandoned wind farms are starting to litter the planet as globally governments cut the subsidies taxes that consumers pay for the privilege of having a very expensive power source that does not work every day for various reasons like it’s too cold or the wind speed is too high.

The US experience with wind farms has left over 14,000 wind turbines abandoned and slowly decaying, in most instances the turbines are just left as symbols of a dying Climate Religion, nowhere have the Green Environmentalists appeared to clear up their mess or even complain about the abandoned wind farms. …

The problem with wind farms when they are abandoned is getting the turbines removed, as usual there are no Green environmentalists to be seen. The City of Palm Springs was forced to enact an ordinance requiring their removal from San Gorgonio. But California’s Kern County, encompassing the Tehachapi area, has no such law. Imagine the outraged Green chorus if those turbines were abandoned oil drilling rigs.

The truth is: wind energy is just a tax scam. Ben Lieberman, a senior policy analyst focusing on energy and environmental issues for the Heritage Foundation, is not surprised. He asks:

“If wind power made sense, why would it need a government subsidy in the first place? It’s a bubble which bursts as soon as the government subsidies end.”

Remember: Liberal politicians are very good at not letting mere facts get in the way of their efforts to reshape California.

Jerry Brownout

SONGSI was at a presentation this morning on the now year-long shut down of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS). One of its two reactors was shut down last Feb. 1 because of pinhole leaks in some water pipes – a serious issue – and the other closed Jan. 31 for routine maintenance, but is now under the same regulatory hold as the other one.

The Southern California Edison representative said we got through last summer with SONGS off-line only because of the lucky alignment of four factors: (1) New transmission lines went on-line so more power could be brought in from elsewhere, (2) Different places in the service area had hot spells at different times, (3) Edison was able to buy power from the AES natural gas-fired power plant in Huntington Beach and (4) people conserved.

This year, only #4 remains certain. No new transmission lines will go on-line this year. Who knows what the weather will bring? Whatever it is, it’s unlikely to be as flukey as last-years migrating hot spots. And that AES plant? Oh, we can’t get even a single kilowatt of power from it this year.

carbon-emmissions-global-warmingWhy not? It’s sitting there. The natural gas line is still connected. Well, it turns out AES sold the plant’s carbon credits at this year’s California carbon credits auction.

My friend Brian Probolsky asked SCE’s guy, “Do you mean a make-believe slip of paper could be the difference between brownouts and getting through the summer without problems?”

The SCE guy didn’t understand the question. It’s this: Just because AES sold its carbon credits on the plant this year in California’s costly, harebrained and doomed to accomplish nothing carbon cap and tax auction, does that REALLY mean that come an emergency, the plant will just sit there?

The answer, unfortunately but not at all unexpectedly – this is California, after all – is yes. The sick and frail, deprived of air conditioning and medical equipment, could be dropping like Europeans in a summer  heatwave, and Jerry Brown’s carbon auction would trump their very lives.

Do you think for a moment the earth would notice whether or not the plant fired up again? Of course not. But environmentalist hand-wringers, including our governor, a super-majority of our legislature and eco-crats would, so it’s not going to happen.

Should electricity brown-outs and black-outs return to California this summer, remember this: It wasn’t problems at San Onofre that caused them. Problems in the thinking of California’s leadership did.

Crazed Greenies Suffer a Defeat

I knew Measure F, the San Francisco ballot measure that would destroy the city’s primary water supply in a massive grovel to the Earth Goddess, would fail.

It was worth watching anyway. If the measure were to get any more than 40 percent of the vote, it would be a clear sign that the looniest of the eco-loons still had a credible power base.

Measure F would have started the process of removing San Francisco’s primary water supply, Hetch Hetchy Reservoir in Yosemite. Deep green environmentalists wanted San Franciscans to surrender one of America’s most reliable and best-tasting water supplies, then spend $10 billion to restore the Hetch Hetchy Valley to its primordial splendor and develop conservation and recycling programs to replace the water with cleaned-up urban runoff and sewage.

Even San Franciscans, who went 83.2 percent for Barack Obama yesterday, could see the measure was eco-stupidity, and 77 percent voted against it. After days like yesterday, look for silver linings wherever you can find them.

Melting Mirrors – Only in Crazifornia?

This story reminds me of the old conundrum:  What do you do when the endangered snake is eating the endangered bird? Or, in this case, what do you do when the energy efficient windows are eating the energy efficient car? And yes, it happened in a fairly crazy part of  Crazifornia – Studio City.

STUDIO CITY (CBS) — A SoCal woman says the energy efficient window installed in a neighbor’s condominium is melting the plastic components on cars parked in her carport.

Heather Patron if Studio City was dealing with a mystery regarding her Toyota Prius. …

Patron then observed a powerful beam of light that was reflecting off the window of a next door condominium, casting a concentrated beam over her carport.

CBS2’s Randy Paige placed a thermometer in the pathway of the beam on a partially cloudy day. The temperature registered over 120 degrees in less than five minutes.

Read the entire story on the CBS LA-Channel 2 website.  It’s pretty  hilarious.  But what’s even more amazing than a melting Prius is this: The City of LA investigated and said there are no code violations involved. Really?  With all the inventive ways LA  has come up with to control everyone and charge fees for everything, you’d think they’d be able to come up with at least one decent code to fling around.

Hat-tip to @LAPearce.

Smelt Corpses Should be Piling Up Like Debt in DC

Something fishy is going on in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. Thanks to plentiful run-off from heavy winter snow in the Sierras, the pumps of the State Water Project have been running at levels we haven’t seen in years – yet the Delta smelt refuse to go along with the predictions of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and its environmentalist suitors (as in lawsuits by the truckload), whose “science” would have us believe increased pumping would cause smelt corpses to be piling up quicker than debt in DC.

My piece on this fascinating mystery ran today in The Daily Caller.  Here’s the set-up:

In Tracy, California, where the massive California Water Project pumps stand ready to move up to 15,450 cubic feet of Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta water southward every single second, it’s been a busy spring.

The pumps have been a mere shadow of their old selves ever since U.S. District Court Judge Oliver Wanger began ratcheting them down in 2007 in response to environmentalist lawsuits brought under the auspices of the Delta smelt. The environmentalists blamed the pumping for the precipitous drop in the smelt population, ignoring any number of other Delta ills that could be decimating the little fish, including ammonia from Sacramento’s sewage plant, farm chemical runoff and hungry non-native bass prized by the very sports fishermen who joined the environmentalists in blaming the pumps.

But the 2010-2011 storm season has been a wet one, with about twice the average rainfall and snowfall. That, and his growing skepticism of the adequacy of the science justifying restrictions on pumping, has loosened Judge Wanger’s grip on Southern California’s spigot, and the pumps have been running at up to 80 percent of their capacity.

For the very interesting kicker, read on here.

California Universities are the Best

Cross-posted at Clarity Blog

Finally, a survey has shown that through diligence, hard work and unending commitment, California’s universities – Berkeley in particular – are the best in the whole wide world.  Unfortunately, it’s for all the wrong reasons.  Here’s why:

The University of California, Berkeley, has been crowned top … of the world’s most environmentally friendly higher education  institutions.

The “UI Green Metric Ranking of World Universities”  is based on several factors, including green space, electricity  consumption, waste and water management and eco-sustainability policies.

Based  on research and surveys conducted by the Green Metric team at the  University of Indonesia on thousands of other universities around the  world,  University of California, Berkeley, United States scored best  with a points total of 8,213 and is the greenest campus in terms of its  environment policy.

Berkeley got the title, but the award really goes to the entire UC system, the UC Board of Regents and the UC faculty as a whole, because the green policies established at Berkeley are not unlike those at all the UC campuses.  So it’s fair to say that California has the greenest public institutions of higher education in the world.

Now don’t get me wrong.  I’m all about green space, conservation and eco-sustainable policies.  Whether there’s a looming eco-catastrophe or not (I think it’s “not”), it makes sense to be good stewards of our shared resources.  No, the problem I have with Berkeley’s new glory is that it’s really just the outgrowth of the deeper commitment to environmentalist brainwashing education that goes on at UC campuses.  If it weren’t for Regents who have bought into environmental doctrine, a faculty that’s bought into environmental extremism, and a curriculum that ensures wave after wave of freshly minted environmentalist soldiers will be graduating every spring and going into battle for Gaea, Berkeley would not be at the top of the green university rankings.

It’s what I refer to as California’s PEER Axis, standing for progressives, environmentalists, educators and reporters.  I wrote about it a few months ago in a well-read op/ed that ran just after the mid-term election on the national news website The Daily Caller:

While the established political parties and their consultants will  ignore California and pore over campaigns in other states for clues on  how to capitalize on — or crush — the Tea Party’s influence, the Left  will be studying what happened in California, so they can replicate it  the next time around. What they will find is not so much a magic formula  but a vast progressive infrastructure they will then work to replicate  elsewhere.

I call this infrastructure the PEER Axis, for the progressives,  environmentalists, educators and reporters who collectively run  California and influence the underpinnings of America. The PEER Axis  remains powerful because politicians and political movements may come and go, but government bureaucrats and  regulators, environmentalists and social justice activists, and their  supporters in education and the media are pretty much forever. The  structure of California ensures that appropriately indoctrinated college  graduates will continue to fill the personnel pipelines that run from  Berkeley, UCLA and other liberal universities straight into the  progressive movement.

Many end up in government offices in Sacramento, where they write policies that are parroted in other states around the nation, as evidenced by the fact that the federal government  is following California’s lead in setting the next round of vehicle  fuel economy standards. Others will go to work at California’s giant  environmentalist organizations, social justice NGOs and activist law  firms, or the powerful public employee unions. Some will stay on the  campuses, turning out future generations of progressives and writing  studies to reinforce and justify progressive government policies, and  those who graduate into the media will publicize these efforts and  belittle any contrarian thinking. Many will find jobs in California’s  foremost culture-bending venture, Hollywood, where they will pummel all  the world with green messages (The China Syndrome, Avatar), anti-corporate tirades (Metropolis, Wall Street), anti-war propaganda (Apocalypse Now, In the Valley of Elah) and movies challenging conventional values (Milk, Juno).

Wherever they end up, they will be greeted by like-minded alumnae  ready to show them the ropes so they, too, can form and implement  policy, bring lawsuits, and mold the next generation.

In my 30 years as an Orange County and California public affairs specialist (maybe even a guru, now that my hair is gray), I’ve watched the PEER Axis in action.  It has transformed California from a state that spawned great private enterprises and embraced needed public infrastructure into a state that could easily win the same award Berkeley just one, if such an award were given.  Defeating the PEER Axis isn’t an option I see playing out in my lifetime, so I’ve made it my work – in business at Laer Pearce & Associates, and with the Crazifornia project – to win skirmishes, shine a spotlight on their activities and in so doing, dull the edge of their blade. Care to join us in the good fight?

Pacific Legal Foundation Likes Crazifornia

The Pacific Legal Foundation has been an invaluable source to me as I’ve researched Crazifornia, and I greatly admire their efforts to stand up for the little guy who’s the target of zealous over-regulators in government.  Paul Beard III has been particularly helpful in my work on the Coastal Commission, having represented plaintiffs in two high-profile cases, the Gualala Festivals Committee’s effort to put on a Fourth of July fireworks show, and George and Sharlee McNamee’s fight to keep their beachside furniture on their own private property.

Consequently, it was gratifying to see this on the PLF Liberty Blog:

Coastal Commissioner Sara Wan in hot water

Author: Paul J. Beard II

The California Coastal Commission routinely steals from and bullies coastal landowners who simply want to develop, use, and enjoy their properties. Among property-rights violators, the Commission may be the very worst. And among the agency’s 12 voting members, Commissioner Sara Wan, whose disdain for property owners and their rights is legendary, may be the worst of the lot.

Wan recently became chairperson of the Commission. The position gives her much influence over the agency’s agenda and operations. But her rise to power is not without controversy.

In an insightful article published in The Daily Caller, Laer Pearce offers a profile of, as he puts it, “the Queen of the Coastal Star Chamber,” and casts doubt on Wan’s future on the Commission. The article discusses several of PLF’s high-profile cases against the Coastal Commission. It is a must-read.

To learn more about PLF and their efforts on behalf of liberty, click here.

The Queen of the Coastal Star Chamber

The Daily Caller ran my op/ed on the latest intrigue at the California Coastal Commission, the state’s all-time champ at trampling on private property rights and the test case for obsessive over-regulation.  The column focuses on the new chairwoman of the Commission, Sara Wan, and is appropriately titled, “The Queen of the Coastal Star Chamber.”

When the Star Chamber ruled atop Great Britain’s legal system for 150 years until its demise in 1641, it was characterized by secrecy, intrigue, and the often arbitrary and oppressive dispensing of what could hardly be called justice. California has its own Star Chamber, the California Coastal Commission, lorded over, for the time being at least, by a portly grandmother from Malibu, Sara Wan.

There is a pitched competition between California agencies for which is the most nonsensical in its implementation of over-reaching regulations. Certainly, the California Air Resources Board, which recently tried to ban black cars in the state in its fevered effort to save the world from global warming, is a strong contender. The California Energy Commission, which last year deprived Californians of the right to purchase large, high-performance LCD and plasma televisions — also to save the planet — is another contender. But none can top the Coastal Commission when it comes to imposing its will forcefully on the hapless Californians who are deemed to fall short of the Commission’s deep green political will.

For the rest of the post – including a blow-by-blow recount of Wan’s recent power grab and the possible ramifications, read the entire op/ed at The Daily Caller.

From RINO to Redux

(Please read this post at The Daily Caller, since they’re interested in how much traffic their authors generate. Thanks!)

Today, Arnold Schwarzenegger signs his last gubernatorial documents and spiffs up the governor’s office so he can get his security deposit back as the next tenant prepares to move in tomorrow.

The man who promised his charisma was sufficient to break down the boxes that hobble Sacramento leaves the place with all its boxes intact, and more than a few new boxes to boot – they’re just painted a greener shade of regulatory over-kill.  As it turns out, the Schwarzenegger legacy isn’t governmental and budgetary reform; it’s AB 32 and SB 375, California’s hysterical global warming twins, and the passel of business-strangling regulations spawned in their wake.  The incoming governor is apparently intent on protecting Schwarzenegger’s green legacy with the appointment of John Laird, co-author of AB 32, as Secretary of Natural Resources, ensuring that natural resources, not resourceful humans, will continue to be the focus of California state government.  The leftist declared the Laird appointment “sets off green fireworks,” adding:

On the first day of the New Year, Governor Brown showed that he is committed to a green agenda by appointing John Laird as the Secretary of Resources. … From waste reducer to wildlife protector Laird is sure to make 2011 a great year for the environment.

But California’s regulatory crusade to coddle the environment without care for the cost is not going to be the focus for Jerry Brown, as much as he might like it to be – it’s going to be the budget, debt and the ever-less-sustainable public employee pension funding gaps.  If Jerry Brown is going to succeed on that score, he’s eventually going to have to take on the public employee unions he empowered in the 1970s when he signed the law giving them truly impressive collective bargaining rights.

It was the unions that terminated the Terminator.  When Schwarzenegger put four mostly sensible reform initiatives on a special election ballot in 2005, he was handily disposed of by the unions, particularly the California Teachers Association, which mortgaged its headquarters to buy even more anti-Schwarzenegger ads.  By most accounts, Brown is also plotting a special election strategy to fix the budgetary mess.  First, he will get a budget through Sacramento (now, thanks to Proposition 25, requiring only the votes of the Legislature’s Democrats) that will include sweeping cuts in spending for popular state services, then he will call a special election and ask the voters to do what even the state’s all-powerful Democrats don’t have enough votes to accomplish:  raise taxes and fees.

He should be able to count on union support for the higher taxes, but the voter’s mid-term rejection of Prop 21’s “park tax” and their approval of Prop 22’s and Prop 26’s restrictions on Sacramento’s non-tax revenue generation tricks indicates Brown’s going to have a tough time pulling off a special election win.  Even if he does – and especially if he doesn’t – he’s still going to have to deal with pension reform if he has any hope of fixing the state’s fiscal mess.  Meaningful reform seems just about impossible under Brown, as Orange County Register opinion columnist Mark Landsbaum wrote today:

Considering their clout, if public employee unions had a better candidate to run for governor, wouldn’t they have run him? Why didn’t they? Because Jerry Brown’s candidacy was their dream come true.

California’s future will be anything but golden unless Brown pulls off a “Nixon goes to China” with the state’s public employee unions and brokers sweeping and significant changes to public employee benefits.  Tweaking at pension formulas isn’t going to be enough.  Even the wholesale selling out of younger public employees by older pension-rich ones isn’t going to pull California out of the hole.  No, dialing back California’s half-trillion-dollar unfunded pension liability before the state’s finances collapse entirely is going to take the kind of reform that will pose a threat to the future clout of the very public employee unions that swept Brown into office.

Can he do it?  I don’t think so.  His appointments thus far, while still few in number, indicate that the Jerry Brown we’re getting is the Jerry Brown we feared we’d get – Moonbeam Redux.  He will use the Democrat’s complete control of Sacramento and the money and influence of his union benefactors to do everything he can to protect the status quo, because unlike where Sacramento was when he first came into office on the heels of Ronald Reagan, Sacramento today is exactly as he would like it to be – fat with government jobs and programs, committed to environmental over-regulation, and firmly in the hands of the unions he knows and loves.

Jerry Brown’s real challenge arises from the fact that the status quo will be impossible to protect unless the state’s businesses shake off the national recession and the state’s obsession with business-flogging and somehow begin to generate more jobs and more tax payments.   Short of that unlikely salvation, it’s anyone’s guess how Brown will succeed in keeping his benefactors happy while dodging California’s looming fiscal black hole.