Energy

Not a boondoggle!

Submitted: Jun 13, 2010
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

Boondoggle -- a trivial, useless or wasteful expenditure, usually of public funds.

In the current economic climate, critics have suggested that high-speed rail is a boondoggle. They couldn't be more wrong. The lack of funding may slow down the project, but it will eventually become a reality.
Projects of this magnitude must not be stopped by economic cycles. Our economy will rebound and one day high-speed rail will be an important part of California's transportation mix.

At first we were reassured by these wise, confident words from the McClatchy Co.'s Fresno outlet. We also dismissed the cynical comment that Fresno won't call this project a boondoggle right up to the time some other Valley city is chosen for the site of the heavy maintenance yard. Virtually every city along the proposed routes are bidding for that yard because it would appear to be the most tangible benefit in the whole project.

Why, in fact, "high-speed rail will be an important part of California's transportation mix." Who or what power would ordain it to come into existence? Who is it that even wants it? Isn't it the same small group of leaders that believed to fervently against reality that the speculative housing boom would never bust? Isn't it the same group of brainwashed leaders who always say the same thing at the same time and hope to hoodwink the citizens into believing unison means truth?

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The Hun's electric train

Submitted: Jun 13, 2010
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Our Hun, a man of action tragically restrained by mere government throughout his political career, has decided to build a "demonstration"

high speed rail link between LA and San Diego.

"...Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger doesn't want to wait that long to give the state a taste of the European-style system..."

Baloney. Our Hun just wants to put his hand on the transformer and run a great big electric train somewhere in California before he retires.

Boosters for a high speed railroad from Los Angeles to San Francisco have been hustling federal funds for this train, claiming that it will be the longest, fastest high speed railroad in the nation and will produce hundreds of thousands of new jobs all along its route. We aren't quite clear on how permanent these jobs will be, but if this boon to employment were to arrive, it would no doubt draw even more people into the state and probably go some way to reinflating the speculative real estate bubble. In part the high speed rail would be a great benefit for commuters to the Bay Area from the Valley, which is why it has such ardent supporters among Valley cities with abundant empty homes for sale, cheap, and official unemployment rates around 20 percent.

There is contention over parts of the route and as usual with recent schemes like new University of California campuses and railroad boondoggles, Merced, which already has two major track systems running through it, is at the center of it.

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The U.S. Department of Westlands

Submitted: May 26, 2010
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

We were deeply gratified that on the same day it announced a truly rotten federal court decision on the Delta pumps, one that will cause more damage to the endangered spring run of salmon and more economic damage to residents of the Delta and the Pacific Coast commercial fishery, the McClatchy Company’s Fresno outlet chose to run the long piece on revolving doors in resource regulatory agencies. We replied below to this act of self-righteous, hypocritical publication that becomes blatant propaganda considering its timing and place.

 

Badlands Journal editorial board

 

 

5-25-10

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BP and the Pentagon

Submitted: May 24, 2010
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

BP's ace in the hole is its contracts with the US Department of Defense, the largest oil consumer in the world. While the military is fighting two wars, one for oil wells (Iraq), the other for pipeline routes (Afghanistan and Pakistan), one of the Pentagon's most favored oil companies commits one of worst oil spill on record and it is still spilling, unabated. Because of BP's military contracts, the government may not impose serious sanctions on the company. It could become "a matter of national security" that BP not be punished. The wars were are fighting for oil are being fueled to a significant extent by BP from wells in the US and Gulf of Mexico.

The civilian government is helpless and is in fact continuing to permit new drilling in the Gulf. It can't stop the spill itself and has little control over BP's efforts. This situation is leading to cynical speculations about the government and BP, for example: pollution of the coastline is just a political obstacle to overcome on the way to full build out of drilling rigs in the Gulf. What is the entire population of the coast worth in comparison to the influence of a few oil companies?

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Falling in tall spring grass

Submitted: May 09, 2010
By: 
Bill Hatch

 

Yesterday I found myself standing in rich, dense grass as high as the tops of my rubber boots in the middle of a cow pasture. I got so engrossed in staring at the snow on the tops of the mountains in Yosemite and the whole visible Sierra range that my partner asked if I was OK. There was a steady breeze as soft as a horse’s sigh blowing across what’s left of the entire grasslands in the middle of the San Joaquin Valley of California, smelling of running creeks, sweet grass and cows.

It rained last week. It’s due to rain next week. The ranchers won’t need to move the cows out of the Valley up into the Sierra for some time. Yet, when summer comes, the sun will suck all the moisture and color out of this grass and the area where I am standing and the hills east of it will turn khaki.

The national herd size hasn’t been so low in 60 years; beef prices are at historic highs; and the vast majority of these native grassland pastures are not irrigated. Looking west to the Valley floor, we could see huge almond orchards in the distance and the rooftops of mega-dairies. Both commodities, the top two in this region, are in serious economic trouble and, dragged down by the collapse of the speculative real estate boom, farmland prices are beginning to fall.

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Big slobber sound

Submitted: Apr 04, 2010
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

Big Mama McClatchy is lecturing us on doing our due diligence as citizens to prepare to vote in the June primary. Mama warns us against all the campaign flak that will be coming at us and urges us to consider carefully the serious issues facing us and to be sure to learn what each candidate's position is on these vital questions of the day.

Since we can't trust anything the candidates will be telling us on TV, in mailers, newspaper ads and on billboards, let alone in person, our minds automatically turn to Big Mama's stable of sage political analysts for the truth about what the candidates stand for.

However, we are frustrated now and, Badlands Journal suspects we will remain frustrated with Big Mama's coverage of the candidates in the June primary elections, because all it amounts to is a sports report on the candidates' fund-raising abilities. It's like batting averages in the Cactus League. It is a ridiculous substitute for political journalism. 

Yo, Big Mama, before you start lecturing voters on learning about the issues and how the candidates stand on them, take your own advice -- describe the issues and report how the candidates stand on them. At least quit drooling over all those big campaign media budgets. All we hear right now is a big slobber sound.

Badlands Journal editorial board

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The People of California are cordially invited to shoot themselves in the head again

Submitted: Mar 04, 2010
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

Flak, propaganda, public relations, political campaign messaging -- there are a hundred names for what millions of dollars of broadcasted lies can do to public memory. We are going to get another dose of it this spring in the Proposition 16 campaign, the purpose of which is to make it practically impossible for any local government to establish a public power utility.

If, however, the public can manage to hold onto enough sanity to remember that distant time nine years ago, known as the Energy Crisis of 2001, people might recall noticing that the localities served by municipal power utilities did not experience nearly as much disruption of electricity services as did the areas served by Pacific Gas & Electric Co.,Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas and Electric. To keep energy flowing that year, the state spent down its $12 billion surplus to a multi-billion deficit buying long-term energy contracts and has been in debt ever since. Now the creators of the deregulation of utilities in California want the icing on the cake -- no possibility of any future competition from municipal power.

Prop. 16 stinks.

Badlands Journal editorial board

 

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Checkmate

Submitted: Jan 30, 2010
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

 

1-08-10
Asia Times 

 Russia, China, Iran redraw energy map...M K Bhadrakumar
http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Central_Asia/LA08Ag01.html
The inauguration of the Dauletabad-Sarakhs-Khangiran pipeline on Wednesday connecting Iran's northern Caspian region with Turkmenistan's vast gas field may go unnoticed amid the Western media cacophony that it is "apocalypse now" for the Islamic regime in Tehran.
The event sends strong messages for regional security. Within the space of three weeks, Turkmenistan has committed its entire gas exports to China, Russia and Iran. It has no urgent need of the pipelines that the United States and the European Union have been advancing. Are we hearing the faint notes of a Russia-China-Iran symphony?

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We hear a frantic clucking sound

Submitted: Jan 01, 2010
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

 

The idea of former Rep. Richard Pombo representing a district that includes Yosemite and Stanislaus national forests and the San Joaquin River from its headwaters to the Mendota Pool on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley revivifies the ancient political cliche about foxes in henhouses. Pombo, former chairman of what was known during the "Gingrich Revolution" in Congress as the House Resources Committee (its former name, Natural Resources Committee restored after Pombo and the Republican majority were defeated in 2006), operating out of his family's Pombo Real Estate Farms in Tracy, successfully killed funding year after year for the CalFed process to try to fix the Sacramento/San Joaquin Delta; supported three bills to gut the Endangered Species Act; tried to put a new freeway to the Bay Area through his family's land; and was defeated in his former seat because constituents were sick of his corrupt involvement with Jack Abramoff and Indian casinos...and that's just for starters.

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State air board caves to truckers

Submitted: Dec 21, 2009
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

Special interests can't run a government that protects its citizens

The Fresno Bee on Monday praised the California Air Resources Board’s decision to roll back the new, tougher regulations on diesel emissions. California contains the two worst air-pollution basins in the United States, Los Angeles and the San Joaquin Valley.

Fresno, in the middle of the San Joaquin Valley, has earned the title, "Asthma Capital of California. Nearly one in three children in Fresno, about 75,000 in 2005, had asthma, according to the Fresno Bee. 2005 was the height of the speculative housing building boom.

Trucking companies are losing business in a recession, states the editorial, therefore emission regulations were rightly rolled back by the air board, despite evidence many trucking companies have already converted to cleaner burning trucks. Inconveniently, there are also a number of CARB sponsored programs to provide financial assistance to truckers to achieve regulatory compliance, for example:

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