Arthur, Ontario, Canada
May 22
I'm an old, short, fat, unsightly, grouchy, reformed troll with a bad attitude and a cricket bat. ---------------------------------------------------- I need to state clearly that English is not my first language. There are upwards of 600,000 words in the English language. In my native language there are a mere 11,000 and most of those are entire concepts (kind of like the theory of relativity) rather than words which translate individually. ----------------------------------------------------- Free advice: Don't.

MrsRaptor's Links
DECEMBER 5, 2011 4:48PM

Leopards, Desert Tortoises, Joshua Trees and Harry Reid

Rate: 8 Flag

What could those 4 things possibly have in common?  You will see... 

Last night I was speaking to a former (you will see why I say "former" in a moment) friend and he informed me that he had purchased his wife a leopard cub.   Now, normally I would probably have solicited a bit more information prior to hitting ballistic speed with being pissed off but...  

  baby leopard in tree

Adorable baby isn't he or she?

Leopards are endangered species... and the only way to get your hands on a cub is to purchase them on the black market... after some idiot supplier has murdered the mother of the poor cubs.  

Then he sent me even more ballistic when he claimed he was merely "thinking about" getting his wife a leopard cub.    I was already beyond pissed off... you can imagine what THAT bit of nonsense did to my blood pressure.  We aren't going to mention what it did to my rather nasty-when-provoked redheaded temper.   

I came completely unhinged.   Flat-assed lost it.   Went from "zero" to "so pissed I was ready to hop a plane to my friend's location and beat him to death with the nearest blunt object" in a nano-second.   Let's just say I am pretty sure he will never speak to me again.  No great loss from my perspective...

What does that have to do with Joshua Trees, Harry Reid and Desert Tortoises?   

A couple of weeks ago another friend who lives in Harry Reid's home town sent me an email asking for some information.  It seems near Searchlight Nevada company called Duke Energy is planning to put a wind farm on land managed by the Bureau of Land Management.  Now this wouldn't be a problem but for a few tiny difficulties...  

First...  The Environmental Protection Agency requires something called an "Environmental Impact Study" to be done because there are several endangered/protected species in the immediate area.  BLM on the other hand says "We don't need to do an EIS"

Second...  Desert Tortoises, an endangered species, NEST in the area where Duke Energy, BLM and Harry Reid want to put this wind farm and they are going to have to BUILD ROADS in the area where the tortoises nest.   Does anyone else see the potential conflict and harm?  


A desert tortoise out for a stroll in the Mojave Desert.  

But BLM says "We don't need to do an EIS"....  

Third...  Joshua Trees grow in the area.   90% of established Joshua Trees DIE if you try to transplant them... and the clowns in question claim they can TRANSPLANT hundreds of Joshua Trees to build roads in the desert for this wind farm.  Joshua Trees are the oldest known living thing on the planet... 90% death rate when transplanted... and some fools want to transplant them to build a bunch of roads.   


A joshua tree in bloom.   

And BLM says "We don't need to do an EIS"...

Wait... the last point is even better...   

Lastly... According to a study commissioned by the state of Nevada on potential locations for wind farms... the area in question is, at best, rated as "Marginal to Fair" for the production of energy using wind turbines.   

  Wind map

The white areas on the map above had not been measured for wind energy production at the time the map was created.   

In the map below I have blown up the area where Searchlight is so you can see the color of the map around Searchlight, NV.  Searchlight is in the southern part of the state... South of Las Vegas, West of Arizona and East of California.   Down there in that little pointy area near the bottom of the state where the map is all tan and orange you will find Searchlight.   Tan indicates the area is marginal, orange indicates the area is fair. 

NV wind map

And through all the questions and complaints... Duke Energy says "We're going to build it here because Harry Reid wants it built here."

Some questions:

Can anyone explain to me why BLM would claim an EIS is "not necessary" in an area where endangered species nest?   

Can anyone explain to me why any energy company, if they are looking to make a profit on wind energy generation, would build a wind farm in an area where there is little likelihood they will generate enough electricity over the course of the lifetime of the windmills to justify the expense of building the facility let alone turn any kind of profit?  

Do you still wonder what Leopard Cubs, Joshua Trees, Desert Tortoises and Harry Reid have in common?   

 What can we do?   We can flood Duke Energy, BLM and Harry Reid with email and letters and phone calls objecting to the loss of habitat necessary for the survival of endangered species when said loss benefits Duke Energy shareholders and is contrary to the best interests of the public.    


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... And people wonder why I have turned into the Grinch this week...
I see a problem here. You said:.....

"..................there is little likelihood they will generate enough electricity over the course of the lifetime of the windmills to justify the expense of building the facility let alone turn any kind of profit?"

Then you said:...........

"...............when said loss benefits Duke Energy shareholders............"

I just have to ask......

"How do Duke Energy shareholders "benefit" from an unprofitable wind farm?"

Sorry to be a pain in the ass, but........?!
Skye... From a profit/loss/tax standpoint it is of benefit to shareholders for the company to show a loss on their corporate income tax because it lowers the amount of tax owed by the company, thereby increasing the amount of profit the company shows (because their tax liability is lower) and increasing the amount of money the individual shareholders see in dividends.

This is why many people scream about companies such as GE not paying anything in taxes... they aren't paying anything in taxes because there are sufficient "losses" on the books to reduce the tax burden on the company to nothing.
What a mess. Im so sorry for the beautiful animals and trees in those wonderful photos. Too many people in the world and too many greedy people.
I guess if you want to look at this from a "positive" angle, there's never a shortage of good causes to get involved in. Otherwise it would be pretty depressing to think about.
I'd also like to point out that there are no transmission lines from the proposed wind farm to... um... well... anywhere. Those will have to be built, most likely by NVEnergy, the electric company with a monopoly on Southern Nevada. If NVEnergy follows its past history, its customers will pay for those transmission lines either through higher rates or an increase in our "Temporary Green Power Financing" fee or our "Renewable Energy Program" fee.

Oh... and Duke Energy doesn't even have a BUYER for the electricity it plans to generate! The power isn't staying in Nevada, it's earmarked for California! But California doesn't need any more of our energy - they've recently announced they have enough renewable plants being built that they'll be SELLING power in the not-too-distant future! So this entire wind farm project is an enormous waste of money! Harry wants to pat himself on the back for all the jobs it will generate, without mentioning that the 8-10 permanent jobs won't go to Nevadans, because we don't have anyone here who can work the doggone plant!
Zanelle... I sometimes think the world would be a better place if there was a massive drop in the human population.

Janie... I have fun with fighting city hall... How hard I fight depends on what is at stake. The potential loss of an entire species and the loss of hundreds of Joshua Trees is making me a rather tenacious and crabby wench...

Margaret... that is about as "positive" of a spin as can be put on it.

Alexa... thanks, my friend, for joining OS so that you could add what I had forgotten.

*Waves @ her fellow protesters of this stupidity in NV* (You know who you are! )
It should also be pointed out that Duke Energy wants setbacks of 2,000 feet from the base of any turbine to the center of any residential structure.... any EXISTING residential structure. That means all the people who own land in/near Searchlight upon which they had HOPED to build their retirement homes, will be screwed. Turbine #1 is a mere 700 feet from the center of a piece of property owned by a friend of mine. THREE turbines will be less than 2,000 feet from the center of that property. Southern Nevada is already experiencing the most depressed real estate market in the country, and this project will completely destroy the property values in and around Searchlight. Those folks won't even be able to GIVE their land away. So much for their dreams of a quiet retirement in a little house in the Mohave Desert, surrounded by red-tailed hawks, Joshua Trees, and the Colorado River.

"Mr Reid wants it built" is the REAL reason Harry is planning to stay in Washington after he's kicked out of office. He's terrified his neighbors will invite him to a party... a good old fashioned necktie party! I'll bring the chips and beer!
Let me make a correction: Duke Energy was forced to agree to the 2,000 foot setbacks by an angry mob of Searchlight residents. They originally asked for about HALF that!
For starters I can't help but wonder how you got on my list of favorites, never seen this avatar before; but never mind that; I'll get over it.

Second of all I would probably ask a few questions first, then go ballistic! What kind of an idiot buys a wild animal that will clearly cause problems once it grows up, not to mention many other issues on the subject including, oh what is it that happened in Ohio a few weeks ago? I just can't remember so never mind that.

I can't see why they would object to an environmental impact study but I think they should be as important if not more important on fossil fuel projects. Clearly it should be important to increase the amount of wind and solar, within reason, where ever possible. If this isn't a good place for it they should do it elsewhere like perhaps putting windmills on the top of skyscrapers where there is more wind and fewer animals to interfere with.
Zachary... I'm MrsRaptor... you are used to seeing me with a cartoon version of me avatar rather than my current Grinch (drawn by one of my kids). As for Sirius (not his real name) ... I (and others) did ask him if he was out of his ever-loving mind and pointed out the drawbacks but he was fairly unresponsive to questions of the "common sense" variety and by the time I discovered he wasn't willing to answer questions I was so darn pissed off I was ready to beat him to death.

The things I find most puzzling are the federal agencies... one of which says "Do an EIS" and the other of which says "We don't need to do an EIS" and the claims of Duke Energy that they will sell the energy to California whilst California says "Not True, we are selling energy ourselves so we have no reason to buy energy." Through it all though there's the "But Harry Reid wants it" mantra as though it is some kind of payback for services rendered or some kind of bribe (I am still working on researching who the shareholders of Duke Energy are)... and I am left feeling like the whole thing smells of rotten fish.
This is an amazing story, especially when we factor in the inconvenient truth that this project will contribute very little towards meeting energy demand. Equally inconvenient is the fact solar energy providers like Duke Energy, while being financially supported by Democrats, are also being derided by Democrats for harming the environment.

In order to power our 21st century lifestyle perhaps we should reconsider oil as the best solution versus dedicating more land towards the production of energy?
"I'm MrsRaptor"

Yea, I knew that but decided to make a bad joke and play dumd. ;-)

Also as I suspect you realize my point was that they seem more concerned about an environmental Impact Study when it is mostly clean energy but not with Gas, oil, coal or nuclear which they think should get a pass.
Johnny... I'm an Environmental Engineer... my job is to balance the NEEDS of humans with the NEEDS of the natural environment and come up with real world solutions with the fewest detrimental effects to BOTH. You come stand in the middle of this see-saw and you will understand that no ONE alleged solution to the energy problems we face (not just in the US but around the world) is "the answer" to the problems involved.

The reality is that fossil fuels will absolutely NOT last forever... to think they will is to bury your head in the sand. Once you acknowledge they will NOT last forever (the statistical probability of any finite resource lasting an infinite amount of time is nil) the only question which matters is "would you rather wait until they are nearly completely used up to look for alternatives or is it more beneficial to society as a whole to integrate alternatives to fossil fuels prior to reaching critical mass?" My professional opinion (and I will give it to you without charge) is that we, humans and the planet, are much better off integrating alternatives *today* than we are waiting until we have no other choices.

Do I believe we should be sensible about integrating alternatives? Unquestionably! I also think we should all be planting trees, encouraging conservation and (though it will pain many) USING carbon sequestration technology to reduce air pollution. As I said earlier though... I work with the belief that a BALANCED approach is best for both meeting the needs of humans and meeting the needs of the natural environment.

Zachary... MY opinion, again offered free of charge, is that regardless of the TYPE of energy being produced an EIS should be a requirement for all types of energy production. I also happen to think that an EIS should include a proactive written PLAN for mitigating the damage (both current and possible future) caused by the production in question. I'm just weird that way though.

I agree; there is no answer to our energy problems. However, we part ways when you make statements like “we are much better off integrating alternatives today” without providing me with a cost-benefit analysis. You see, with any energy decision, there are costs and there are benefits, too often environmentalists only consider the environmental benefits. In the case of the Searchlight proposal, not only did environmentalists completely ignore the financial costs they also didn’t factor in the environmental costs.

Let’s peel the onion on your theories about the longevity of fossil fuels. Wouldn’t the best solution to that problem be solved through the free market? In other words, when supplies drop prices rise and alternatives to oil become more attractive. Let the environmentalist protect what needs to be protected (in terms of land/water use) but let’s keep them out of the free market.
Well Johnny... You lose the debate the moment you make the claim that I am "an environmentalist." I am categorically not an environmentalist, nor do I appreciate the word being used as an epithet.

So that we are clear on the correct usage of the words ...

Conservationists are those who believe in conserving natural resources for the benefit of future generations - both human and non-human.

Preservationists are those who believe in preservation through elimination of human interference in natural environments.

Environmentalists are those who are concerned ONLY with the impact of humans on the environment.

Ecologists are scientists who study the relationships between organisms and their natural environment.

*I* am an Environmental Engineer... and a conservationist. That is, I believe we should conserve natural resources for the benefit of future generations, regardless of their species.

All of that said... nowhere have I said we should NOT be using fossil fuels. Nowhere have I said that I believe the "free market" (which does not EXIST in reality) should not play a part in the process. On the other hand... I do not believe the "free market" ALONE should be the decision maker. I believe REASONABLE policies (such as "cap and trade" and carbon sequestration) can have a positive impact in the long term but that in the short term we need to look at and use alternatives as much as possible. BUT... I'm a conservationist not an environmentalist and so I see the "bigger picture."

Further, you are in error when you make the following claim: "In the case of the Searchlight proposal, not only did environmentalists completely ignore the financial costs they also didn’t factor in the environmental costs." You are blaming the wrong party for the failure to factor in the environmental costs... it is Duke Energy which failed to factor in the environmental costs... it is BLM who fails to factor in the environmental costs... it is Senator Harry Reid who fails to factor in the environmental costs. "The environmentalists" (used in the context of an epithet as you chose to use it) understand far better than any of the aforementioned just what the environmental costs are. The Conservationists, such as myself, take both sets of costs into account and strive to BALANCE the two.
Thanks for the definitions. Please feel free to substitute any of them into the place where I wrote the word “environmentalist”. Speaking of splitting hairs, if you don’t like the term “free market”, simply substitute it with the term “supply and demand”. Do the laws of supply and demand exist? Look, we can split hairs until they fall out or have a discussion.

I applaud you for not, as we so often see amongst the Occupy Movement, blame this situation solely on the back of corporations. As you astutely point out, it is up to our elected officials, through their laws and regulations, to stop this from happening. Duke isn’t going to perform some expensive environmental study unless someone forces them to do it via laws and regulations.

But where you get no applause, is your inability, like almost all conversationalists (I’m familiar with), to factor in the financial costs of your conservationalism. For example, you call cap and trade reasonable, whereas our elected officials, rejected cap and trade because it was completely unreasonable.

At the end of the day, the most reasonable use of our financial resources is to let the free market dictate where we get our energy. Take all the money you save towards promoting green energy and save a rain forest. I’m pretty sure everyone one of those groups you mentioned would have no problem saving rainforests, environmentalists to.
First... it was NOT Duke Energy ordered by the Environmental Protection Agency to perform an EIS... It is the Bureau of Land Management, another federal agency, which was ordered to perform the EIS and it is BLM which says they will not do so. Now, I might be inclined to say "let the two federal agencies fight it out" but for the fact that BLM has a long history of screwing the public over when it comes to land under their control.

Second... one needs to look no farther than the Auto Industry, the oil industry to see clearly that "supply and demand" (or whatever fancy name you want to call it) is not working. The Auto Industry has been producing far more vehicles than consumer demand necessitates for at least 15 years. IF "supply and demand" was something which worked the price of vehicles would have been going down (due to the supply being greater than the demand) rather than up for at least the last 10 years (in addition to the companies getting smart and reducing the number of vehicles built to start with) . The oil industry has been getting tax breaks and subsidies for YEARS (all the while charging mineral rights owners for "post production costs" [costs associated with transportation and conversion of oil to other products])... yet the cost of products made from oil has been going nowhere but UP since the 1970s (while demand has remained fairly constant or dropped since at least 2000) while the companies in question post record profits every year. Now... either the oil companies do not NEED the breaks they get (in which case do away with them) OR supply and demand is no more "efficient" than any other system... or both. *I* at least am willing to acknowledge that BOTH "supply and demand" and "government control" have drawbacks... which is something that I have NEVER heard a "free market" person admit with regard to "free markets."

I STRONGLY advise you to ASK rather than ASSUMING. On the issue of "cap and trade" being reasonable... reasonable is defined as "Based on good sense"... now how "not reasonable" to take into consideration the human health costs associated with increasing amounts of air and water pollution when considering whether or not "cap and trade" is a "cost effective" alternative to doing nothing? What *congress* failed to consider was the cost associated with doing nothing. When the choice is, as it has been for a significant amount of time, between "do nothing" and "cap and trade"... cap and trade is far more reasonable than the alternative from the point of view of anyone capable of factoring in ALL of the associated costs in doing nothing. Increases in respiratory illnesses, asthma, cancers, heart disease, etc... and the associated costs for medical care absolutely MUST be factored into the "do nothing" side of the equation... as do the associated costs for increasing air and water pollution.

As I have said to you repeatedly... BALANCE...

Environmental costs MUST be part of the equation... As must costs associated with increased medical care caused by increasing pollution, costs associated with equipment, etc... BUT if decisions are going to hinge exclusively on the cost of something then ALL of the costs must be included because doing nothing is also expensive.
By the way Johnny... as politicians and other miscreants can tell you... I'm a pain in the ass...
I seem to recall something about the EPA's EIS requirements including a raptor study... meaning a study of ALL the raptors in the soon-to-be-afflicted area, but the BLM was planning to only include eagles. The BLM has a history of (possibly deliberately) underestimating endangered species counts just to get projects underway. Check out the Desert Tortoise count problems on the Ivanpah Airport project and you'll see -- the BLM sadly underestimated the number of tortoises on that site, despite having been warned they were doing so! But Vegas "needed" that other airport so badly that the project started... and then was stopped by the tortoises. Now it's on hold until the economy picks up and more people come to Vegas again. I guess we really didn't NEED that airport so badly, after all.
This was fascinating. So is the wind farm on hold?

I live in northwest Indiana, which is tan on your map, and we are being buried in wind farms. The farmers are making out from the leases, but no one else is. The local farm is sending to Illinois. The next one I know of will send to Indianapolis. No where do I read that they are making a positive impact on supply, but I do know my county got a big pile of cash. My uncle's county got free electricity for the schools thanks to me, but no one here was smart enough to get free power for anyone else. We also have no idea what's going to happen to these towers of metal at the end of their effective life.