Risk of harm is bad. Certainty of harm is good. The disconnect in assessing risks of getting the energy we need.

Sometimes you just have to scratch your head wondering about the fantasmagorical world inhabited by some regulators. A good dose of ridicule might bring them back to earth, but the chances are small. I’ll give it a try anyway.

1/14 – ReWire – Report: Fracking Imperils Southern California Residents, Wildlife – A report from the California Department of Oil, Gas & Geothermal Resources concluded that any fracking in three specific oil fields in the state would have

“significant and unavoidable” environmental damage”.

There would be significant risk of damage to:

  • Air quality
  • Wildlife
  • Public and worker safety
  • Increased greenhouse emissions
  • recreational use of surrounding lands
  • transportation and traffic problems

This, in a state that is building wind turbines as fast as the rare earth minerals can be mined and the concrete can be poured to get the slice-and-dice blades spinning.

This, in a state that has a huge solar plant that is killing unknown and intentionally undercounted numbers of protected & migratory birds and wants to build many more such wing-toaster facilities.

If the impact of fracking oil wells would be a significant risk, then on a proportionate basis wouldn’t the correct environmental description today, right now, for the full-steam-ahead wind and solar projects best be described as certain devastation of wildlife, assured destruction of natural views and use of land, guaranteed obliteration of cultural artifacts, and undeniable and willful violations of federal wildlife protection laws?

In contrast to “significant risk” maybe, perhaps, someday, of damage from fracking, we currently have the guaranteed certainty of actual, known, specific, and deliberate damage from wind and solar plants.

1/23 – ReWire – Vegetation Clearing Starts at Desert Solar Project – Prep work is approved for the 485MW Blythe Solar Power Project. This will be another wing-toasting concentrating solar tower (that’s my description, not the technical name) like Ivanpah. NextEra, the owner, has permission to start clearing vegetation. That will be done now before birds start their nesting for the season. Their breeding will be disrupted before the season starts, not while they are caring for young’uns. Project also has permission to start relocating burrowing owls and desert tortoises. Oh, the biggest threat to burrowing owls is loss of habitat. Ponder for a moment whether turning 4,000 acres of desert land into a wing-toasting facility might be a risk factor for those cute little critters.

Here’s the contrast

Bad: Fracking, on existing sites, where roads and collection infrastructure are in place.

Good: Disrupting the owl & tortoise population, altering water drainage, killing an unknown number of migratory birds for decades, building high voltage transmission lines across the desert, and obstructing the desert view. All of that is funded by massive taxpayer subsidies in order to produce overpriced electricity that utilities buy only because they are forced to do so.

The risk that something might possible go wrong in the future from fracking is unacceptable.

The certainty of extensive damage this morning, next migratory season, and for decades to come from wind and solar is okay.

Did I miss something in the logic part of my college philosophy class? Perhaps George Orwell may have written something that would help me understand.

What do you think? Reasonably polite comments welcome.

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