Frank Landis' Blog

Can anyone help me find…?
February 2, 2010, 8:35 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

As I posted on Rick Halsey’s Facebook page recently, I’m looking for an article. I’ll describe the article in a second, but let me first get my soapbox out about the desert solar and wind land rush. Let’s see, where to start:
–I could start with the problem, dating back to pioneer days, that land that has been developed is worth intrinsically more than undeveloped land. No, really. The value is from real or potential water, mineral, etc rights. So Joe Idiot tries to farm the desert, scrapes it bare, goes broke, leaves a useless eyesore, and that’s still worth more than an adjacent area full of endangered plants and animals. I’ve heard rumors that Senator Feinstein is trying to change this provision, and if so, bless her and help her out, because what’s happening is that just about every undeveloped acre of BLM land in the southwestern deserts has a solar or wind plant targeted at it. Not the screwed up areas so much. Just the undeveloped land. Time to scream, environmentalists!
–Or, conversely, I could start with the problem that the local power utilities understand how to build power lines and work with big, monolithic power plants. So they want to build more. In Mexico, even (I think having a big, gas-burning power plant near Tijuana is an excellent way to light up San Diego. Don’t you?). Conversely, the local power companies have issues with dealing with dispersed power generators, like, say, people with solar panels on their roofs. As a result, San Diego just raised the cost of permitting a home solar panel by several hundred percent, while other states (such as Massachusetts) are already implementing programs to buy any surplus power that their customers generate. Time to scream? Sure, why not?
–Or, perhaps, I could start with the problems with utility corridors. They’re ugly, they kill birds and wildlife, and …. Ummm, oh yeah, power lines also start fires. That’s a bit of an ugly problem. We certainly need more fires in southern California (see more from The chaparral institute on this). Powerlines are also vulnerable to fires and earthquakes. And, to get back to the topic of this post, power lines are exquisitely vulnerable to terrorism.

Terrorism? Well, I’m absolutely not interested in taking down a line. However, someone (I seem to recall it was one of the Nixon cabal, possibly G. Gordon Liddy) published this article back in the 1980s. In it, he described, in some detail, how he could use approximately 50 men, some shotguns, dynamite, and similar supplies, to take out the West Coast. His idea was to shoot the wires off the insulators on the high tension lines (that’s what the shotguns were about), dynamite certain key towers and power distribution centers, blow up a couple of aqueducts, and dynamite a few freeway passes through the mountains. Result: people across the West Coast would have no power, no water, and no way to leave except by walking or driving an ORV. Evil man.

Now, to repeat, I have absolutely no desire to follow these instructions.   However, I would like to find a copy of that article, mostly so I can include it in EIR/EIS comments on all these damned power lines they want to put in in the next year.  It’s stupid to destroy so much undeveloped land and make ourselves more vulnerable at the same time.

While we’re at it, if anyone can figure out a way to reach into Washington and get them to focus on decentralizing the power grid, not just making more huge plants, I’m open to suggestions.

Hello world!
February 2, 2010, 7:08 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Welcome! I thought it would be good to have a stump to speak from.  The topics here are whatever I feel like speaking about, which is mostly going to be life, life science, living in San Diego, the dubious pleasures of being an environmental-type in the twenty first century, writing, and anything else that takes my fancy.  Feel free to comment, but I reserve the right to excise anything I don’t like, particularly spam.