Barry B | Arkansas news, politics, opinion, restaurants, music, movies and art

Barry B 
Member since Dec 15, 2015


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Re: “The messy Clean Line issue

I agree with you totally, Bob. I understand that "global warming is an impending disaster that must be addressed as quickly & broadly as possible."

We can't rush into senseless solutions that do more harm than good.

Let me show you three so-called solutions that were supposed to alleviate climate change but have actually done more harm than good.

First, remember the Sierra Club's "Beyond Coal" (i.e. with fracked Gas?) Even President Obama touts our drop in CO2 emissions but he fails to mention the disasterous rise in fugitive methane emissions. Almost every source that I see tells me that the problem of leaking methane during & after the fracking process, & during the separation & processing of the natural gas is a ticking time bomb that is much worse than global heating from CO2. This, along with the leaking of methane from our crumbling natural gas pipeline infrastructure is accelerating global warming faster than President Obama is willing to admit.

Secondly, remember corn-based ethanol production? Remember how corn-based ethanol was going to reduce global warming & lessen our dependence on foreign sources of energy?

Corn prices spiked back in the middle of the first decade of the 21st Century after Congress created the most stringent ethanol standards in history. President George W. Bush signed this well-intended measure. Soon afterward, corn & other commodity prices began hitting their highest price levels in recent history.

Farmers & ranchers in the upper Midwest & the Great Plains who had previously had their most ecologically important lands tied up in the Conservation Reserve Program, Wetland Reserve Program & the Sodbuster Program saw an easy way to increase production. Who could blame them?

According to Ducks Unlimited more than eight million acres of prairie grasslands & prairie wetlands in the United States & Canada were put into production & converted to GM cornfields to supply the corn-based ethanol industry from 2006-2014.(DU Magazine, Fall-Winter 2015)

One of the greatest & saddest ironies here is that undisturbed grasslands & seasonal wetland prairies take up & store a tremendous amount of carbon dioxide. A square meter of prairie grasslands convert & store even more CO2 than a comparable square meter of temperate forest or tropical rain forest. ("Forgotten Prairies of the South", Noss, Reed pp)

The loss of North American habitat to shorebirds, neo-tropical migrant songbirds & waterfowl in the last decade has been incalculable.

Third, now southern hardwood trees & southern pine trees are being cut at a frightening rate in Virginia, North & South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, & now Arkansas, and being trucked or shipped to wood pellet mills.

Our magnificient Southern forests are being turned into wood pellets! And it's not only pines. During a recent segment on NPR the reporter stated that ash trees & red oaks were among the many pines stacked at a North Carolina wood pellet mill waiting to be processed.

After processing into pellets, the cargo (legally labeled as "biomass") is loaded onto freighters & shipped to newly retrofitted coal-fired power plants in England, Wales, Scotland, Belgium, France & Germany.

Our southern hardwoods & pines are now legally labeled as "Biomass" so European power companies can reach goals outlined in the EU 2010 Climate action plan.

There are two new wood pellet plants being built in Arkansas(Ozarks at Large" KUAF 91.3 radio) that will supply European power plants.

Most of the supporters claim that nothing but wood from pine plantations is going to be used, but landowners & suppliers aren't required to limit harvesting to softwoods.

Most people from the Delta & south Arkansas that I know tell me that it is only in recent years that our bottomland hardwood forests along our rivers & in our floodplains are reaching what could be called a mature state of growth. Hardwoods grow very slowly compared to pines, It has taken 80-100 years for them to recover from the last major harvesting in the early 20th century.

Is this insane, or am I simply not getting it? Fracked gas? Converting seasonal prairie wetlands on the High Plains to GM cornfields & then into corn-based ethanol? Converting Arkansas hardwoods & pine trees into wood pellets so they can be shipped down the Mississippi River to be put on a freighter ship? Then these freighters sail 5,000 6,000 miles to ports in England or Germany where their wood pellet shipments are sent to be burned as bio-mass in their power plants?

Dear Bob, is this sustainable or am I simply stupid?

I know some people could care less about the Lesser Prairie Chicken or the Hoary Bat. Spend a few hours or days reading all that you can about these species. There are many great on-line sources of information about each.

What I am asking is that I think that biodiversity matters. I truly believe that we can de-carbonize our industries without destroying biodiversity.

I see a lot of great work being done in the field of battery storage devices. Tesla's Powerwall, for example is a new development that holds lots of promise for homeowners who want to invest in distributed solar & an electric automobile.

A 3.5 megawatt power project with 2,800 wind turbines 400ft tall & 400ft wide is simply too big of a footprint for the Lesser Prairie Chicken, the Hoary Bat & the Burrowing Owl.Then there is a 150-200ft, 700-mile power line to fragment the habitat on the High Plains even further.

I, like most people assumed that there was nothing worth saving out on the High Plains of the Oklahoma & Texas Panhandles. Now I realize that is an area of unusual biodiversity.

2 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Barry B on 12/18/2015 at 5:04 PM

Re: “Power line environmental study released; to carry wind power across Arkansas

I live in NWArk & I knew nothing about this project until several long conversations with some very knowledgeable family members over the Thanksgiving holiday.

I always had put all renewables in the same category; wind & solar are good power sources; coal, oil & natural gas are evil sources.

Over the Thanksgiving Holiday I learned that wind energy & distributed solar (that is rooftop solar panels) are not equal.

I learned from a bat expert & a bird expert why the 3.5 megawatt Plains & Eastern Clean Line Wind Energy Project is a very bad idea. I found out how this project will likely have catastrophic effect on two species I never really ever gave much thought to before.

My brother-in-law bird expert told me that there are a lot of ornithologists & people who are a part of the birding community in Oklahoma who are frightened at the prospect of 2,800 wind turbines in the last remaining habitat of the Lesser Prairie Chicken on the Oklahoma Panhandle. Each wind turbine is 400ft tall & 400ft wide. There were once two million LPCs living & strutting about on the southern High Plains. Now there are fewer than 29,500.

The USFWS listed the Lesser Prairie Chicken as threatened in 2014. This is one step above the listing of "endangered". An oil industry trade group then sued FWS. A federal judge in Texas ordered the bird to be delisted in a ruling this past Sept. 2015. I am sure that the wind energy promoters cheered the ruling.

My bird expert relative told me that Lesser Prairie Chickens cannot tolerate living near tall objects like wind turbines & oil & gas drilling rigs. These birds have apparently evolved to be wary of predators such as hawks & owls perched high in trees in the mostly flat & rolling Great Plains. If drilling rigs or wind turbines move in, the LPC's move out, abandoning their leks & failing to breed & produce offspring.

I found a number of interesting internet sources on the problems the Lesser Prairie Chicken is facing with wind development on the Great Plains. Two of the bleakest articles are "Wind Turbines are Killing the Lesser Prairie Chicken"( Newsweek, May 5, 2015 by Ross Kenneth Urken) & "It's Not Easy Being Green: Wind Energy & A Declining Grassland Bird" (Bioscience Talks by Christian Pruett, Michael Patton & Donald Wolfe bioscience.oxfordjournals.org/content/59/3/257.full)

I challenge Mr. Glen Hooks & anyone else from the Sierra Club to read both articles. There are dozens more, even though this is a relatively new topic. (I am a X-Commed Sierran now sending my former Sierra Club dues to the "Friends of the White River NWR" & the "Center for Biological Diversity".

I also have recently learned of the Hoary Bat. I never knew that some species of bats are migratory, but some bats, like the Hoary Bat migrate very long distances. They spend the winters in Central & South America. Every spring they cross the Gulf of Mexico or fly along the Texas Gulf coast up into the Great Plains & into the Texas & Oklahoma Panhandles & into the upper Midwest. The 2,800 massive wind turbines of the P&ECL Project lie directly in a major migration pathway of these Hoary Bats.

I have also learned that Hoary Bats, unlike some of our more common cave dwelling bats are very susceptible to death by barotrauma. (Bat Fatalities at Wind Turbines-Ft. Collins Science Center: https://www.fort.usgs.gov/science...96) Barotrauma is death by damage to the air containing organs that is caused by rapid air-pressure change. Wind turbines create tremendous low pressure zones (much like a hurricane) that cause death to these little mammals by creating pulmonary & middle ear hammorrhages.

These bats are very important to farmers & ranchers because they eat enormous amounts of insects they are also important pollinators.

Don't Mr. Hooks & the Arkansas Sierra Club believe that these little mammals deserve better?

Do we have to sacrifice the earth's bio-diversity in the rush to de-carbonize our society?

The rooftops of homes & businesses in Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi & Georgia (& the rest of the TVA) receive a tremendous amount of solar energy. There must be enough potential solar energy there & in neighboring Florida to provide more than enough of their electrical generating needs.

Posted by Barry B on 12/18/2015 at 2:01 AM

Re: “The messy Clean Line issue

I have come to this issue very late. I knew very little about the P&ECL project until a visit with family over the Thanksgiving Holidays.

The earlier discussion conducted above is fascinating & has added even more information about wind energy & the P&ECL project.

My discussions with friends & family over the holiday were helpful because I have always assumed that wind energy was fantastic; more windmills equals less Co2, less mercury, less cadmium, & fewer open-pit, mountain-top coal mines.

I have found out that the DOE & US FWS have approved a 3.5 megawatt wind energy project that will require 2,800 individual wind turbines, each up to 400ft high & 400ft wide in some of the very last & most important habitat for the Lesser Prairie Chicken in the Oklahoma & Texas Panhandle.

There were once more than 2 million Lesser Prairie Chickens on the southern Plains at the end of the 19th Century. Now there are fewer than 29,500. The FWS reluctantly & finally listed the Lesser Prairie Chicken as "threatened" in 2014 & most ornithologists wanted even stronger protections.

An oil & gas lobbying association sued FWS this year & a federal judge in Texas ordered FWS to "delist" the LPC. This opens the entire southern Great Plains to wind power development.

I have been told by a knowledgeable family member that these magnificent birds are hanging on by a thread in Oklahoma & the wind turbines & HVDC power line will squeeze them to extinction in his state. This family member, who is employed at a state university in Oklahoma is afraid to go public with any kind of criticism against wind power.

Another in-law who has made it his life work to study North American bats has told me that the P&ECL project will be deadly for migrating Hoary Bats. I have been informed that the Hoary Bat is migratory & it often flies long distances, even all the way to Central America & South America for the winter. In spring they fly up along the Texas coast, north into the Great Plains, up into the upper Midwest & Canada.

He finds it utterly incomprehensible that such a project could be placed in a major migration pathway of the Hoary Bat. He has said that they aren't yet threatened, but that the are very susceptible to death by wind turbine blades. He told me that this is an environmental disaster waiting to happen.

I have been a member of various environmental & conservation organizations for decades & I keep waiting for someone to respond publicly to the question of the Lesser Prairie Chicken & the Hoary Bat.

Where are the Arkansas & Oklahoma Audubon Societies? Where is the Arkansas Wildlife Federation, the Oklahoma Wildlife Federation? the Sierra Club?

Must biodiversity be destroyed in order to become fossil free?

Isn't there enough solar energy in Tennessee, Alabama. Georgia & the rest of the TVA to power all of their energy needs?

3 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Barry B on 12/16/2015 at 7:06 PM

Re: “Clean Line project gets positive environmental assessment

Why has the DOE & the USFWS allowed a 3.5 megawatt wind power project what will require 2,800 massive wind turbines to be placed in the last remaining habitat of the Lesser Prairie Chicken on the Oklahoma Panhandle?

There are fewer than 29,500 Lesser Prairie Chickens left on earth. In 1900 there were more than 2 million Lesser Prairie Chickens living on the southern Great Plains. The US FWS listed this magnificent bird as threatened in 2014. A federal judge in Texas ordered the LPC removed from the endangered species listing this past Sept. 2015. I am sure that the wind energy executives cheered.

Why has the DOE & the USFWS allowed 2,800 wind turbines to be built on a major migration pathway of the Hoary Bat?

Hoary Bats winter in Central & South America. In spring they migrate up along the Gulf Coast, into Texas & the High Plains, eventually to the upper Midwest & southern Canada.
Hoary Bats eat millions of dollars worth of harmful insects. They are extremely important to American agriculture.

Will anyone defend the Lesser Prairie Chicken & the Hoary Bat?

Isn't there enough sunshine (solar energy) in Tennessee, Alabama, & Georgia to power millions of homes, schools & business?

Aren't there enough rooftops in Memphis, Nashville, Huntsville & Atlanta to support millons of solar panels?

Posted by Barry B on 12/15/2015 at 7:52 PM

Re: “UPDATED: Arkansas delegation wants more comment time on Clean Energy line

I would like to know why more environmental groups haven't opposed this project because of it's immense footprint on the Oklahoma & Arkansas landscape.

Why has the DOE & US Fish & Wildlife Service approved a 3.5 megawatt wind energy project that will place 2,800 huge wind turbines on the last remaining habitat of the Lesser Prairie Chicken on the Oklahoma Panhandle?

There are fewer than 29,500 Lesser Prairie Chickens on earth. In 1900 there were more than 2 million.

Why has the DOE & the USFWS approved a 2,800 wind turbine project right in the middle of one of the most important migration pathways of the Hoary Bat? Hoary Bats winter in Central & South America. In spring they migrate along the Gulf of Mexico & up into the High Plains to the upper Midwest & Canada.

Hoary Bats eat millions of dollars worth of harmful insects. They are very susceptible to death by wind turbines.

Will anyone defend the Lesser Prairie Chickens & Hoary Bats?

Isn't there enough sunshine in Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia & the rest of the TVA area to power the entire United States?

Posted by Barry B on 12/15/2015 at 7:30 PM

 

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