Two articles from the ProgressNow Daily News Digest caught my eye this morning. The first is about additional clean energy development in Colorado. The other puts violent speech from a Con politician on display.
I’ll start with the clean energy story: potential development in the San Luis Valley that is being looked at by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar as part of an effort to build solar power infrastructure on public space in six Western states. Unlike Rep. John Salazar, who would rather condemn the planet to thousands of years of harsh climate than stand up to oil and gas corporations, Sec. Salazar’s Interior Dept. obviously understands the dangers involved. And while Sec. Salazar might have a level of political cover that Rep. Salazar doesn’t enjoy, one need only look at Rep. Markey’s principled vote and courageous stand against Colorado’s most extreme politicians to understand that that political cover isn’t necessary to act.
Salazar said he has signed an order setting aside more than 1,000 square miles of public land for two years of study and environmental reviews to determine where solar power stations should be built.
Parcels include 10,000 acres that sit on the east side of U.S. 285 between Antonito and the state line and just under 6,000 acres west of Romeo. A fourth parcel covers 4,000 acres northeast of the intersection of U.S. 160 and Colorado 150.
Salazar vowed to have 13 ‘‘commercial-scale’’ solar projects under construction by the end of 2010 on lands that have what he called excellent solar energy potential and limited conflicts with wildlife, other natural resources and land users. He set a goal for the projects to produce a total of 100,000 megawatts of solar electricity.
It’s not clear from this article what kind of solar technology would be employed at the sites. Most people think of solar photovoltaics (PV) when they read about solar power. Other technologies, which I have discussed before, would provide much more bang for the buck. I would love to see Concentrating Solar Power, CSP, (especially Concentrating Solar Thermal, CST) facilities built up across the West. A simple way to describe them is parabolic mirrors act to concentrate solar energy on a tube filled with a fluid. As the fluid is heated, it is used as a heat source in a power generation system. Two clear advantages of these systems emerge: the efficiency of this system is greater than for PV and the energy collected during the day can be more easily stored during the night – providing a boost to solar baseload.
Regardless, an additional 100,000MW of clean energy is indeed very good news.
Okay, onto the violent speech news. Rep. Laura Bradford, who surprisingly beat Rep. Bernie Beuscher in last year’s election, put her wingnuttery on full display in a discussion about the extractive regulations that went into effect in April (the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) rules). Check out the language she chose to use [emphasis mine]:
“Our stance is the erosion of private property rights has gotten to the point that the pitchforks are about to come out here,” Bradford said.
Really? Really, Rep. Bradford? Pitchforks are about to come out? Cons are so intent on supposedly protecting rights, they forget that along with rights come responsibilities. Her comment is clearly designed to portray how horribly angry landowners are about the regulations. But who carries pitchforks around because of their mindless anger? Rioters and mobs. Is every landowner on the Western Slope planning on joining a riot with a pitchfork anytime soon? They (some of them) might be frustrated, but the rules clearly impact large-scale gas and oil drilling operations – not every West Slope Coloradan.
What responsibilities does Rep. Bradford have in this situation? She has the responsibility to clearly explain the effects of the regulations to her constituents and neighbors. She could have spent her time and energy encouraging her constituents to call and write to other legislators and the Governor. Instead, by using the language she has, she is inciting their anger – trying to direct it so she can benefit from it politically. That’s immoral and it’s dangerous. She has the responsibility to work with her colleagues on this legislation. Ultimatums and poorly-veiled threats of violence in the media aren’t the actions of a responsible person, regardless of how well she works with other Representatives.
She proceeded to throw out a series of unfounded claims regarding Division of Wildlife powers and the state’s reputation and image. What I wouldn’t give to have more “journalists” ask for substantiation of wild-eyed claims. The language that is passed through the media today is a sad commentary on the state of that media. We know the Cons would have a one-week hissy-fit if a Democratic Representative mentioned pitchforks in a statement about their constituents’ anger. I guess it all boils down to that values stuff…
Cross-posted at SquareState.