Childhood’s End

Posted on 18. Feb, 2013 by Stephan Helgesen in Politics, Social/Cultural, Uncategorized

In 1953, Arthur C. Clarke published a science fiction novel titled Childhood’s End.  In this work, Clark gave us a Teilhard de Chardinian vision of humanity’s future.  In Clarke’s work, the consciousness of certain advanced humans merged to form a new superconsciousness that departed earth in a spectacular pulse of energy, presumably for an eternal pilgrimage through the infinite cosmos.  The departure of this spirit leaves the earth a dead husk.

Under the Progressive vision for the future, childhood ends in a different way.  Progressives regularly urge an earlier and earlier start for government run educational programs.  As a result, we now speak of “‘cradle-to-career’ education” in our public discourse on national policies.  This would entail starting (mandatory?) public education when a child reaches four years of age.

Although research indicates that all advantages to an early start in school are washed out by the time a child reaches the third grade, progressives would increase this program from its current level that includes only 25% of children to 90%.  This would greatly increase the cost of public education for what may be virtually no improvement in educational achievement.

But there could be another, perhaps more troubling, aspect of the idea of an earlier start to the public educational process.  It removes children from the influence of their families at an earlier age and places them under the control and influence of government-run educational programs.

Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World constitutes a chilling look at where all of this could lead, especially when “cradle-to-career” education is combined with the collapse of the family and advances in the science of in vitro fertilization.

In Huxley’s dystopia, the idea of natural birth has become anathema.  Sex is free as long as one does not develop a preference for a particular partner.  Not only does the union of sperm and egg take place in vitro, but the resulting fetus also develops in vitro.  The development of fetuses is controlled to produce people of various intelligence levels to provide workers and managers for the various tasks required by the economy and society.

One of the most chilling aspects of Huxley’s book is his description of the conditioning of young children who are raised in government facilities.  For one thing, they are taken into hospitals to view those who are dying as part of the program to inure them to the process of dying.

Having been raised in a loving, extended family, I can scarcely view the prospects for the future of childhood as anything other than bleak.  Moreover, the prospects for humanity’s future dims with the demise of a traditional childhood, if we are to believe psychologist Carl Jung, who warned us that as we move farther and farther from our natural roots we become increasingly disoriented.

Soon, we shall have reached a point in this process in which we can no longer return to a saner, safer culture, for we have become like the Nietzchean superman who not only burns his bridges, but destroys the land behind him as he sets sail on a dark, unknown sea.

This article was submitted by Don Baucom


 

 

 

Subsidy-seeking, wind-energy supporters running scared

Posted on 17. May, 2012 by Stephan Helgesen in Energy/Environment, Uncategorized

The wind energy industry has been having a hard time. The taxpayer funding that has kept it alive for the last twenty years is coming to an end, and those promoting the industry are panicking.

Perhaps this current wave started when one of wind energy’s most noted supporters, T. Boone Pickens, “Mr. Wind,” in an April 12 interview on MSNBC said, “I’m in the wind business…I lost my ass in the business.”

The industry’s fortunes didn’t get any better when on May 4, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) wrote an editorial titled, “Gouged by the wind,” in which they stated: “With natural gases not far from $2 per million BTU, the competitiveness of wind power is highly suspect.”

Citing a study on renewable energy mandates, the WSJ says: “The states with mandates paid 31.9% more for electricity than states without them.”

Then, last week the Financial Times did a comprehensive story: “US Renewables boom could turn into a bust” in which they predict the “enthusiasm for renewables” … “could fizzle out.”

The article says: “US industry is stalling and may be about to go into reverse. …Governments all over the world have been curbing support for renewable energy.”

Michael Liebreich of the research firm Bloomberg New Energy Finance says: “With a financially stressed electorate, it’s really hard to go to them and say: ‘Gas is cheap, but we’ve decided to build wind farms for no good reason that we can articulate.’”

Christopher Blansett, who is a top analyst in the alternative-energy sector in the Best on the Street survey, says, “People want cheap energy. They don’t necessarily want clean energy.”

It all boils down to a production tax credit (PTC) that is set to expire at the end 2012. Four attempts to get it extended have already been beaten back so far this year—and we are only in the fifth month.

The Financial Times reports: “Time-limited subsidy programmes…face an uphill battle. The biggest to expire this year is the production tax credit for onshore wind power, the most important factor behind the fourfold expansion of US wind generation since 2006. Recent attempts in Congress to extend it have failed.”

According to the WSJ, “The industry is launching into a lobbying blitz.” The “2012 Strategy” from the American Wind Energy Association includes: “To maximize WindPAC’s influence, WindPAC will increase the number of fundraisers we hold for Members of Congress.”

“Continue the Iowa caucus program to ensure the successful implanting of a pro-wind message into the Republican presidential primary campaign.” “Respond quickly to unfavorable articles by posting comments online, using the AWEA blog and twitter, and putting out press releases.”

“Continue to advocate for long term extension of PTC and ITC option for offshore wind.”

“AWEA requested a funding level of $144.2 million for FY 2012 for the Department of Energy (DOE) Wind Energy Program, an increase of $17.3 million above the President’s Congressional budget request.”

A wind turbine manufacturer quoted in the Financial Times article says, “If the PTC just disappears, then the industry will collapse.” Regarding United Technologies plans to sell its wind turbine business, chief financial officer Greg Hayes admitted: “We all make mistakes.”

Despite twenty years of taxpayer funding, according to the Financial Times, “Most of these technologies are unable to stand on their own commercially, particularly in competition with a resurgent natural gas industry that has created a supply glut and driven prices to 10-year lows.”

The WSJ opines: “the tax subsidy has sustained the industry on a scale that wouldn’t have been possible if they had to follow the same rules as everyone else.” A level playing field would mean that wind developers would lose the exemptions from environmental and economic laws.

It is the fear of having to play by “the same rules as everyone else”—like the free market does— that must have propelled the anti-fossil fuel Checks and Balances Project to dig deep to unearth a “confidential” document.

The brainstorming document was designed to trigger conversation during an initial meeting of grassroots folks with a common goal—the document’s author didn’t even join us and his ideas received little attention. The meeting was February 1 and 2. I was there. But suddenly, on May 8, our little meeting is in the news.

Many of us who were at the meeting received calls from a variety of publications including The National Journal, The Washington Times and Bloomberg News—none of whom ran with the story (after talking to a number of us, the Bloomberg reporter concluded “I don’t think we’re writing a story about this”)—and The Guardian who did.

The Guardian story was picked up and expanded on in Environment & Energy (the reporter did talk to several of us), HuffPost, Tree Hugger, Think Progress’ Climate Progress, and others. (Note: Climate Progress and Tree Hugger remove any comment in opposition to wind energy as soon as it is posted.) High Country News has apparently done an original story trigged by the Checks and Balances press release. From these sources, some form of the story is all over the Internet.

The wind energy industry panic explains the sudden interest, but why our little group?

Washington Examiner columnist, Timothy Carney, provides the answer: “AWEA plans ‘continued deployment of opposition research through third parties to cause critics to have to respond,’ the battle plan states. In other words:

When people attack AWEA’s subsidies, AWEA might feed an unflattering story on that person to some ideological or partisan media outlet or activist group.” We are the people who have attacked the subsidies and AWEA has, through a “third party” fed “an unflattering story” to a “partisan media outlet.” Our collaborative actions have helped block the PTC extension efforts.

A common thread in the news stories is that we are really an oil-and-gas funded entity. They’ve tied us to the Koch Brothers. We all wish. Apparently they can’t believe that individuals and local groups can think for themselves and impact public policy without a puppet master telling us what to do and say.

In fact, the group has no funding. As we began to email back and forth over the sudden reporter interest, one meeting attendee quipped: “My trip was funded, in part, by MY brother, Paul, who donated frequent flyer miles for my trip.

I can assure you that my brother is not part of the Koch family. I paid for the rest of the trip out of my own pocket.” Yet, the reporters seemed determined to find a funding link. I told the Bloomberg reporter that we each paid our own way, that the meeting was held in a budget hotel outside of DC (unlike the AWEA meeting held at the prestigious La Costa Resort & Spa in Carlsbad, CA), and that we each had to pay for our own transportation, food, and lodging.

My comments never made it into print. In the spirit of full disclosure, I am the executive director of companion organizations that do receive funding from oil and gas companies and individual donors. But I, like the others, was invited as an individual, not as a member of any organization.

Additionally, we are not even a formal group. We met to consider forming a group. The “leaked” memo, addresses finding a group that might absorb us, affiliate with us, or align with us.

Attendees brought their individual issues, observations, and successes. Each had valid insights to contribute. Some viewed health impacts as the most important ammunition. Others, economics. Some, setbacks or bird deaths or land use.

Others, including the meeting’s organizer, John Droz, believe that the science—or lack thereof, is the best weapon. There are so many reasons to oppose wind that come down to government use of taxpayer money to support something that raises electricity prices based on the failed concept of man-made global warming. As a result of the meeting, we now know we are not alone, and we can call on one another for insight and advice.

We owe a debt of gratitude to Gabe Elsner, a co-director of the Checks and Balances Project. Without his discovery and subsequent exposure of the “document,” we’d still be just loosely affiliated individuals and small citizens’ groups.

The attack has emboldened us and helped others find us! A representative from the Blue Mountain Alliance sent Droz an email stating: “I probably need to send them a thank you note for leading me to you and your efforts.”

After the murmurings became known, one of the meeting attendees, Paul Driessen, wrote a detailed and data-filled column, “Why we need to terminate Big Wind subsidies,” which has garnered more than 700 Facebook “likes” on Townhall.com.

(To give perspective, I am pleased if I get 50 “likes.” Each “like” generally represents thousands of readers.) In just a few days, his column is all over the Internet.

Wind energy has more opposition than most people realize, and Elsner, who has served as the “third party” in the AWEA strategy, has allowed us to find one another.

While a few attendees at the DC meeting were concerned about all the publicity, attorney Brad Tupi, who has represented citizens victimized by wind energy projects, responded: “I would plead guilty to participating in a meeting of concerned citizens opposed to wasteful, unproven, inefficient wind energy.

I would agree that we are interested in coordinating with other reputable organizations, and I personally would be honored to work with Heartland Institute and others.”

If you do not support industrial, tax-payer-funded, wind-energy projects that are promoted based on ideology and emotion rather than facts and sound science, you can benefit from our affiliation.

Droz has a wonderful presentation full of helpful information. A few of the websites from the meeting attendees include: Illinois Wind Watch, Coalition for Sensible Siting, Energy Integrity Project, and Citizen Power Alliance.

The lesson to be learned from the attack on these hard-working citizens is that the little people can make a difference! We’ve got the subsidy-seeking, wind-energy supporters running scared—along with the crony capitalism that accompanies them. Remember, “If the PTC just disappears”—meaning if we do not keep giving them taxpayer dollars—“then the industry will collapse.”

Your phone call or email to a Senator or Congressman, such as Steve King or Dave Reichert who recently came out in support of the PTC, can make a difference. Tell them, as the WSJ said, “If the party is serious about tax reform…it will vote to take wind power off the taxpayer dole.”

It is time for the AWEA and the politicians who support the PTC to explain why higher electricity costs, human health impacts, substantial loss of property values in rural communities, dead bats and birds, and increased national debt are good for America and her taxpayers!

This article was submitted by the author of Energy Freedom, Marita Noon, who serves as the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc. and the companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE). Together they work to educate the public and influence policy makers regarding energy, its role in freedom, and the American way of life. Combining energy, news, politics, and, the environment through public events, speaking engagements, and media, the organizations’ combined efforts serve as America’s voice for energy.


 

Stagemanship or Statesmanship?

Posted on 02. Jan, 2012 by Stephan Helgesen in Politics, Uncategorized

Where are the Stewards of Democracy, the Protectors of Capitalism and the Guardians of the Constitution?

I hope that in 2012 America’s leaders will resolve to regain something they’ve lost over the last few years…their fiduciary responsibility to the three most sacred tasks we the people have entrusted to them: 1. to protect and preserve the Constitution, 2. to provide for the common good and 3. to secure the defense of the Republic against all enemies both foreign and domestic

Many of us have entered the New Year, soberly, and with a renewed sense of purpose about restoring America’s greatness in 2012. Some will choose the upcoming elections in November to remove the President, his advisors, his Czars, and his ideology and along with them some Congressional Representatives. Others, who are content with the status quo or believe that hope will change things, will vote to retain them. It’s that simple, really.

The current administration has already set the stage for the second phase of its Great American Makeover. No longer just a cosmetic change using the miracle lotion of stagemanship, the Obama Administration seems intent on giving America a major facelift. The wrinkles that have shaped Columbia’s character and America’s history will be removed, consigned to the ‘before’ side of the page. After the next major surgery, we will not recognize her. Her face will be tight, but her morals will sag behind her facade.

Every administration has an agenda, just as every President, Senator and Congressman has a ‘to do list’ of action items they want accomplished. No one should begrudge them that, but everyone should begrudge them the right to misrepresent who they are and what they want for our country before they’re elected. Each candidate owes us the truth about how they will acquit the three sacred trusts I mentioned earlier.

Before we discuss those trusts, we must be clear about one thing: there are only two ways to really effect change – by electing people of high moral character to office or through our established democratic process (the third way, revolution, is enshrined in our Constitution and is therefore part of the democratic process, strangely enough).

That said, let’s examine how the current administration should be rated for its handling of all three. Preserving and protecting the Constitution simply means upholding and enforcing the law of the land. What grade would you give the Administration for the Justice Department’s refusal to prosecute a voter intimidation case against the Black Panthers for wielding billy clubs at a Philadelphia polling place in 2008? What about the ‘Fast and Furious’ gun-walking operation that has dogged Attorney General Eric Holder?

Then there’s the ‘Affordable Healthcare Act’ commonly known as ‘Obamacare.’ Aside from the blitzkrieg tactics used to pass the bill (which many would call legislative thuggery), does the individual government mandate to buy health insurance under penalty of law bother anyone who’s read the 10th Amendment? Apparently the Attorneys General of 27 U.S. states think so as their suit is now in the hands of the Supreme Court. We will see if the scales of justice are balanced if Justice Elena Kagan recuses herself from this case (she was an active participant with the Obama Administration in the formation of the Act).

Providing for the common good is high ground both parties claim to hold, and while each sees the ‘shining city on the hill,’ neither one really has a foolproof legislative GPS to find the right route. Both, however, have more than enough rhetoric about why we should stay their respective ideological course to reach the shining city’s gates. Their paths could not be more divergent.

For the Democrats, the ‘common good’ is a euphemism for collectivism. Their city shines because it is constantly being polished by government workers and funded by American taxpayers. It is a city where maximum earnings levels are dictated by government and where wealth is distributed by government fiat. In their shining city, government always knows best.

The Republicans’ city shines with the glow of free enterprise. You can tell by the billboards that announce your arrival with slogans like, “It’s Your Shine, Keep It Bright” not “Your Shine is Mine.” It’s a city with a City Manager, not a community organizer Mayor. Their city is run like a business by businesslike people.

The answer to what the ‘common good’ is was purposely left open for debate by the Founding Fathers, though they were specific in which areas government should not be involved. Government ownership of private property and appropriation of assets were two of them.

That segues nicely to the General Motors bailout and the strong-arm tactics used by the Administration to intimidate priority shareholders to give up their right to higher recompense for their securities. Add to that the Government’s intervention in our economic ‘natural selection’ by allowing the Treasury Secretary to choose which investment houses should live or die and you surely have another case for Constitutional aggression.

Preserving the Republic sounds like a phrase straight out of the Minuteman handbook, but it is as relevant today as it was over two centuries ago. One of the most widely-debated issues that calls the Administration’s defense of our Republic into question is their seeming unwillingness to secure our southern border with Mexico. By filing suit against legislation passed by several states that would protect their citizenry from repeat illegal immigrant offenders, the Administration has turned away from its responsibility under the Constitution thereby putting law-abiding Americans at risk.

Protecting America against all enemies, foreign and domestic will be the central issue of the current Administration’s campaign strategy as it tries to shift the focus to its foreign policy successes (like the assassination of Osama bin Laden) and away from the economy. The rhetoric will go something like this, “We can promote democracy without going to war. We can defuse potentially dangerous relationships by talking with our enemies.

We must trust our institutions (like the U.N.) to represent our interests. We must not undermine foreign governments just to achieve democracy. The Bush Doctrine (of preemptive strikes) is dead. Long live the Obama Doctrine (of perpetual discourse). The jury may well be out on the efficacy of the Obama Doctrine (because talk is never done), but there is one area where we cannot afford to make any mistakes, and that is terrorism.

America may have had its fill of war, but it is not yet ready to let down its defenses against terrorism. While the Administration may wish to soften the dialogue through euphemization, it will fail. War is still war; it is not overseas contingency operations. Terrorism is still terrorism; it is not a man-caused disaster. We will not succeed in re-writing the rulebook by simply changing the terminology.

Unless we fully understand how the game is being played and what motivates the other side to play the way they do, we will be the walking wounded on the field or worse yet, sidelined and helpless.

- Editor

New Mexico: Sixth largest recipient of federal money

Posted on 01. Jan, 2012 by Stephan Helgesen in Economy, Uncategorized

New Mexico ranks sixth among the states in terms of per capita federal spending. New Mexico’s dependence on federal government spending increased in FY10. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, federal government spending during the year grew to $28 billion, up from $27.5 billion in FY09. New Mexico ranks sixth among the states in terms of per capita federal spending. In FY10, the federal government spent $13,577 per capita for every New Mexican.  Of that $28 billion of federal spending, $6.7 billion came in the form of grants, $7.4 billion in procurements and $2.7 billion in salaries and wages.

The U.S. Department of Energy spent $4.8 billion on procurements in the state during the year. Federal spending in New Mexico amounts to about one third of the state’s GDP. Business and political leaders have expressed concern about the state’s dependence on federal spending, especially in light of looming federal budget cuts.

To read the whole article, logon to the New Mexico Business Weekly at www.bizjournals.com/albuquerque

Our Middle is Missing

Posted on 07. Dec, 2011 by Stephan Helgesen in Politics, Social/Cultural, Uncategorized

Who made off with America’s middle? I’m not talking about our collective mid-section (Heaven knows that most of us could stand to lose a bit of that this time of the year). I mean the great middle of our political corpus where compromises are made. I’ve looked everywhere and I can’t seem to locate it.

Those on the right say they have it (somewhere in their party platform), and those on the left say they are the new middle! Me, I’m confused. Let’s try to sort this out. If you believe in big government that acts like our guardian angel, the nanny of our entitlement programs, the protector of our civil rights and the arbiter of wealth (who should be allowed to earn what), then that middle is one I don’t recognize.

If, on the other hand, you want less government, fewer entitlement programs (or less in the entitlement pot) for the needy and don’t mind giving up some of our civil liberties – under the Patriot Act, for example – then that one is equally unfamiliar to me.

Combining the two and then splitting it down the middle doesn’t appear to give us a middle either; it just gives us a government that is underfunded and can’t keep the checks coming for the unemployed and welfare, medicaid and food stamps recipients, and it can’t protect our civil liberties because it doesn’t have the resources or inclination to do so.

It’s a little like a retailer that must reduce its store hours due to  dwindling sales and chooses to stay open when people cannot shop. Yes, they’ve compromised, but they did it in a vacuum without polling the customers. Thankfully, most companies are run by businesspeople and not politicians, and while I’m at it, we must stop demonizing them as if they were vampires at the blood bank. That will only give us a shortcut to the poorhouse.

I don’t understand groups that claim theirs is the true middle and insist that that is the place to start compromising, even though their views only reflect the middle of their ideology and not that of their opposite number on the other side of the bargaining table.

No one can compromise from that position, because neither side can agree on the definitions or the boundary lines. If there ever were a time for a King Solomon to step in and adjudicate the dispute it’s now, because our leaders can’t even agree on the severity of our problems let alone the solutions. Turning in front of a speeding oncoming car because you’re in the right only to get T-boned in the intersection doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Each one of us drives defensively because we know that while rules are made to be obeyed not everybody does so. That’s logic 101.

Enough of the analogies. When you’re poor you can’t afford to act like you’re rich. You make tough decisions and cut back on the luxuries to survive and preserve your basic way of life. Most of us aren’t going to send a letter to the electric company or the gas company and say we’re only going to send them half of what we owe them and not a penny more because our ideology dictates it.

America has some tough choices to make right now, and that goes for the well-heeled among us as well as those with worn heels or none at all. We had better get on with America’s business and start deciding what we can live with and what we can live without before circumstances take that decision away from us. I just hope it’s not too late. Half a loaf is better than no bread at all to a hungry man.

- Editor

Prologue to Sept. 11, 2001

Posted on 13. Sep, 2011 by Stephan Helgesen in Social/Cultural, Uncategorized

In the years that have passed since our great national tragedy, our friendships with the nations that poured out their compassion to us in the wake of 9/11 have ebbed and flowed.

The search for the terrorists, the sponsors of terrorism and the invasion of Iraq, have been the subject of dozens of articles, interviews and books detailing the events that led up to the War and the toppling of Saddam Hussein’s regime. Our allies that comprised the coalition forces spent their own native blood and treasure in support of the hunt for the perpetrators of the attacks on the World Trade Center, Pentagon and the foiled attempt that left hundreds dead in a Pennsylvania farmer’s field. For years, our friendships with these nations have been tested by America’s foreign policy and will continue to be. Americans, too, have come down on both sides of the issue of whether the hunt for the terrorists should have precipitated the invasion of Iraq instead of a more narrowly targeted ‘surgical’ dragnet.

One thing is for certain, America will never be the same, and the tragedy of 9/11 set in motion a widespread national debate on war, terrorism, personal liberty, torture, incarceration, due process and security, not to mention geopolitics. Americans of all ages and persuasions have weighed in on  the advisability of preemptive use of force, and the political winds that blow hot and heavy throughout the Congress have carried this debate to the floor of the Senate and House on more than one occasion.

These debates, which are reminiscent of those of the Vietnam War years, will not go away, and each  Congress and President must take them up and try to square them with our Constitution and with our values as a nation. That is the responsibility of free people and the promise of freedom entrusted to us by the framers of our Constitution. Tyranny will always be with us and is a parasite on democracy. We will never totally eradicate tyranny; we can only hope to show it for what it is, a mutation of humanity.

I have a good friend, a kind and decent man I have known for over 25 years, who was called upon to be the Civilian Provisional Authority (CPA) in Iraq, Ambassador L. Paul Bremer, III. ‘Jerry,’ as his friends call him, was not a man that sought fame and adulation. He was a career diplomat who began his career as a junior officer in Afghanistan and worked his way up the State Department’s ladder. Retiring earlier than most at his pay grade to take a position in the private sector, he did so to ensure his children of the best education possible and to spend more time with them and with his wife of many years.

Answering the President’s call to become the U.S.’ top man in Iraq and take on the gargantuan task of reconstituting a government and helping stabilize a country in ruins was a daunting responsibility – one that most people would never even entertain. I was relieved when President Bush chose him because I knew there was no better qualified, resilient and resourceful man for the job. I mention him here because he is a well-known figure to many and to show that one man’s (or woman’s) dedicated actions can make a difference in righting the wrongs visited upon us by evil people.

Ordinary citizens in vastly different situations than his have done all they could over the past ten years to try make sense out of the senseless acts of 9/11. Thousands of our brave men and women  in uniform have given their lives in defense of our liberty, and many thousands more have come back to us badly wounded and suffering from severe battle trauma. We owe them a debt of gratitude. While that debt can never fully be paid, we pay it down by acknowledging their sacrifice during these days immediately following 9/11.

Our Creator has endowed us with the ability to evolve and to learn from our mistakes. We live our lives in the present, but we must remember that history did not begin with our birth nor with the births of countless generations of decent human beings that came before us. Finding fault is never as important to our human condition as finding truth and acting responsibly.

To borrow a currently-used phrase, “one cannot lead from behind,” and only we the living have the luxury of hindsight. Whether the decisions made from 2001 on were correct or not will be left to the survivors of this national holocaust to decide, not the victims. It is our solemn duty to honor them by getting it right… for the next ten years and beyond.

- The Editor

San Juan Haze Plan Will Cost Ratepayers

Posted on 27. Jun, 2011 by Stephan Helgesen in Energy/Environment, Uncategorized

PNM has already invested $320,000 in environmental upgrades at the San Juan Generating Station (SJGS).  This upgrade, completed in 2009, has significantly reduced pollutants and improved visibility in the region by reducing haze-causing emissions like Nitrogen Oxides (NOx) by 44 percent, Sulfur Dioxide (SO2) by 71%, particulates by 72%, and mercury by an industry leading 99%.

But, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), that’s just not enough to address visibility in Federal Class I parks and wildernesses.  Notice we’re talking about visibility and nothing more. The state of New Mexico, along with PNM, developed a plan for the installation of Best Available Retrofit Technology (BART) that included Selective NonCatalytic Reduction (SNCR) technology.  The SNCR will further reduce emissions at SJGS and improve regional visibility with NOx reduced by an additional 20%.  This would be a total combined NOx reduction of 73% from 2006 levels.  The SO2 will additionally be reduced by 20%.  The State Implementation Plan (SIP) is estimated to cost $77 million or approximately $11 per household.

The EPA designed a Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) technology plan that would cost from $870 million to $1.0 billion dollars to install, or approximately $85 per household with very little increase in reduction.  With computer generated modeling of how the two systems (the state’s recommended SNCR and the EPA’s recommended SCR technology) would affect visibility in the area, the unaided eye can detect no difference! The SIP was unanimously approved by the Environmental Improvement Board (EIB) on 6/3/2011 after two days of hearings in Santa Fe and Farmington.

It’s important to consider also that the San Juan Generating Station and the San Juan   Coal Mine that supplies its fuel are major employers in the Four Corners region and contribute to the economic health of the region and the state.  Some of the facts:

●  SJGS employs 394 full-time workers, 20% of whom are Native American

●  The San Juan mine employs 526 people, of whom 46% are Native American

●  The plant pays millions of dollars a year in government taxes, including $54.8 million in coal royalties and taxes paid to governments and tribes and $6.4 million paid to in property tax to San Juan County.

●  San Juan also purchases about $30 million in materials and supplies each year and holds approximately $122 million in contracts for outside services. The plant pays $280 million each year for coal and ash removal.

The final decision lies with the EPA, and it will rule no later than August 2011 on which BART must be installed at San Juan Generating Station.  It can decide to allow New Mexico’s SIP for the installation of SNCR technology or require the installation of SCR equipment as developed in its own BART plan.

The cost of either retrofit will be an incremental cost to the state and its citizens. When utility rates increase, the costs of all services and goods produced in the state will also increase. The SCR technology provides an insignificant difference in visibility over the SNCR, but the cost difference is about 12 times higher. Average New Mexicans simply cannot afford the EPA’s recommended SCR technology. The NMUSA believes the state’s SIP plan for installation of SNCR technology at SJGS on is the best alternative and supports this plan as a more cost effective method of addressing the regional haze regulations.

NMUSA encourages you to write to EPA representatives and members of Congress expressing your view on the pending decision.  Contact information is as follows:

Ms. Janet McCabeDeputy Assistant Administrator 

US Environmental Protection Division

Ariel Rios Building

1200 Pennsylvania Ave. NW

Washington, DC  20460

 

Mr. Al Armendariz

Regional Administrator

EPA Region 6

1445 Ross Avenue Suite 1200

Dallas, Texas  75202

 

Senator Tom Udall

219 Central Ave NW Suite 210

Albuquerque, NM 87102

 

Senator Jeff Bingaman

625 Silver Avenue SW Suite 130

Albuquerque, NM 87102

 

Congressman Martin Heinrich

505 Marquette Ave NW Suite 1605

Albuquerque, NM 87102

 

Congressman Ben Ray Lujan

3200 Civic Center NE Suite 330

Rio Rancho, NM 87144

 

Congressman Steve Pearce

570 N Telshor Blvd

Las Cruces, NM 88011

 

Carla Sonntag is Head of Governmental Relations for the New Mexico Business Coalition. She can be reached at govrelations@msn.com

 

 

 

 

 

 


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