October 29, 2007

LADWP Survey Markers

Here's a web page documenting the LADWP placing a survey marker in Johnson Valley for their proposed Green Path North project, the plan to run power lines from Desert Hot Springs to Upland via Lucerne Valley and Hesperia. The page includes photos of the landing of the helicopter with the survey crew, and this letter from LADWP explaining what they're doing.

permalink | October 29, 2007 at 10:34 AM | Comments (0)

October 13, 2007

Anti-Green Path North Meeting

Tonight I went to the public meeting in Yucca Valley organized by the California Desert Coalition as part of their effort to stop the LADWP from building the Green Path North power lines through the high desert. First, let me tell you (in case you ever need to know) that at the collection of buildings that form the Yucca Valley Town center, where the community center is, there are NO signs telling you which building is the community center. But there are signs identifying the town hall, the library and museum. Ruling those out (along with the playground and ball fields) if you just follow the crowd, you'll get to the community center.

It's a big hall, and they put out chairs for 300 people. It filled up, and a lot of people were standing at the back and along the sides. They gave us a VERY good "Power Point Presentation" (has Microsoft been defending that term? I suspect some presentations I see now involve no Power Point). Then the various committee chairs of the coalition sat up front for Q & A. It was an impressive show. They all seem intelligent, informed and good public speakers. The audience, too, seemed intelligent and perceptive, asking good questions.

The official answer to the obvious question of why the LADWP wants to build these power lines on this extra-long bizarre route is "We don't know." But the very good guess is that all the power line corridors that are already authorized and even built, where capacity could be increased, are owned by Southern California Edison...and LADWP wants to own some transmission lines, probably for economic benefit they guessed, but I wonder if simple empire building isn't part of it too.

The question was asked "What right does LADWP have to come out and take land and build a power line in the high desert?" was answered, again, with something like "I don't know." They said inquiries with the Public Utilities Commission and other responsible authorities just led them right back to LADWP. What I wanted them to say was something like "My god, you fool, it's the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power!"

Earlier this year someone from LADWP came out to the area and began putting in survey markers; not just little flags, but concrete & steel with aluminum tags. Three were found in Big Morongo Canyon. One man at the meeting said he found one in the middle of his 15-acre piece of property. A total of seven are known. LADWP denies putting them there, although the aluminum tags all bear the name of LADWP.

An interesting fact I hadn't heard before is that power lines built on BLM land pay rent of $14 (and some cents) per mile per year. Much of Green Path North is, of course, on BLM land.

But best of all, the California Desert Coalition was selling t-shirts with this cool design on the back.
California Desert Coalition T-shirt

permalink | October 13, 2007 at 10:10 PM | Comments (0)

October 11, 2007

Green Path Public Meeting

The California Desert Coaltion is organizing a community-wide, public meeting to discuss the LADWP Green Path north corridor proposal. The meeting will be this Saturday, October 13, 6:30 PM in the Yucca Valley Community Center which is, as far as I can determine, at the intersection of Dumosa and Antelope Trail, not far off of Highway 62.

Here's the website for the California Desert Coalition.

permalink | October 11, 2007 at 09:18 AM | Comments (0)

September 12, 2007

Green Path Through Big Morongo ACEC

The most recent issue of the Big Morongo Canyon Preserve Newsletter included an article about the proposed Los Angeles Department of Water and Power's Green Path construction of power lines to carry "green" energy (geothermal, solar and nuclear) to Los Angeles. It includes more detail than I had seen before. If the selected route from the Devers substation to Los Angeles goes through the high desert, the lines would go across the site of the proposed Palmwood project (oh, irony of ironies!) to Little Morongo Canyon, and up that to Yucca Valley, where it would then bend in order to strike across Pioneertown and Pipes Canyon.

I scanned this from the newsletter:
Green Path through Big Morongo
I added the light blue area to indicate the approximate location of the proposed Palmwood project (click for larger sizes).

The plans for the Palmwood project already allow for the Colorado River Aqueduct (another LADWP property). I don't know where they'd stick these power lines. I don't think the LADWP would put power lines directly on top of the aqueduct. I doubt that it was designed for a load like that.

Here's the article from the BMCP Newsletter:

Power Lines Threaten ACEC

We all need electrical energy, right? And green energy is a good thing; its use is a key strategy in the fight against global warming, right? So what could be wrong with a plan by the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power to bring geothermal-generated electricity from the Imperial Valley to Los Angeles? A whole lot could be and is wrong with LADWP's inaptly named Green Path North Project, including the environmental damage it would do to the Big Morongo Canyon Preserve ACEC (Area of Critical Environmental Concern).

The project, touted by Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa as a plan to make Los Angeles "the greenest and cleanest city in America," purports to be green because it will transmit renewable energy. However, the planned implementation of the project, including its unnecessary and destructive route across the nonrenewable California desert environment, makes this project not so green after all.

In the application submitted to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), LADWP requests a 330-foot-wide easement to erect 500-kV high-transmission power lines for miles through the interior of the ACEC. It would bisect existing wildlife corridors, including those of bighorn sheep, mountain lions, and mule deer, as well as impact many endangered, threatened and sensitive species, including the desert tortoise, all before even leaving the ACEC.

And that's only the beginning. The power lines would continue on across Morongo Valley and other communities in the high desert, then travel for miles across public lands of California's fragile desert to reach Hesperia before being directed to Los Angeles, making a greater than 85-mile diversion to reach their destination.

Back to the ACEC, let's look at one species that would be impacted by the power lines. These are the magnificent bighorn sheep that we have been enjoying in increasing numbers in Big Morongo Canyon this year. These animals constitute a group of about 100 sheep whose territory has traditionally encompassed the western portion of Joshua Tree National Park and the Little and Big Morongo Canyons of the ACEC. There is a reason we are seeing more of these animals at the Preserve recently. With many historical sources of water in JTNP having dried up and with lack of rain stressing the plant life that sustains the sheep, the sheep are having to travel more frequently to the lush areas in the Preserve. And, the only way to get from JTNP to these vital resources is to cross the proposed power line path.

The construction period alone would be a nightmare for the bighorn. To install the massive (to 220 feet in height) power poles and string the lines in the rough terrain of the Little San Bernardino Mountains, the LADWP will be using bulldozers, truck cranes, forklifts, rock-hauling equipment, and many other construction vehicles, as well as helicopters, and blasting equipment. Construction will go on for over a year, so the bighorn lambing season (January to June) will not be avoided. The LADWP admits that "revegetation would be difficult. . . where precipitation is minimal," so once the land is cleared for the construction process, it's gone as a resource for the sheep and other wildlife.

Opposition to the plan is already strong and growing. Concerned citizens have organized to form the California Desert Coalition (CDC), whose goal is to stop the power line route, as currently formulated, from becoming a reality. Although in its formative stage, the CDC website cadesertco.flashbyte.us already has some information on the Green Path Project, and you can contact the CDC by email at info@cadesertco.flashbyte.us for further information. CDC board member Ruth Rieman reflects the organization's positive attitude in her statement, "It's always easier and certainly more rewarding to work toward a "win, win" outcome. There does appear to be just such an opportunity for LADWP, the City of Los Angeles, and the State of California as they solve LA's and the state's need for increased amounts of power. They can set an example for the nation by going truly green with tested, on-the-shelf, clean technology and transport the power via currently used corridors."

However counter-intuitive it may seem, the fact that BMCP has been designated an "area of critical environmental concern" will not be enough to stop these environmentally destructive power lines. It will take actions by Friends and other concerned citizens. You can help by writing to the BLM and to elected officials and by staying informed of the progress and of future actions in which you can be involved.

Let your voice be heard. Tell the BLM your concerns for the Big Moronogo Canyon Preserve ACEC.

John Kalish, Field Manager
Bureau of Land Management
Palm Springs Office
PO Box 581260
North Palm Springs CA 92258

Here's a Hi-Desert Star article on the subject.

Here's the official LADWP web page on the "Green Path North Transmission Project." That page includes a link to this PDF which maps out (roughly) all the routes under consideration.

The California Desert Coalition mentioned above has selected a name for itself that was used in the past by a large coalition of land users (miners, ranchers, off-road vehicle enthusiasts, the NRA, etc.) who opposed the California Desert Protection Act which created the Mojave National Preserve and changed Death Valley and Joshua Tree Monuments to National Parks.

permalink | September 12, 2007 at 11:16 AM | Comments (2)

May 6, 2007

Green Path North

The Hi-Desert Star has a well written article about the L.A. Department of Water and Power's proposal to build powerlines through Pipes Canyon Preserve to bring "green" electricity to Los Angeles.

When asked in a telephone interview why the Hi-Desert is even on the table as an alternative, considering the shortest route to L.A. from the Salton Sea would be along the I-10 corridor, DWP Public Affairs Representative Carol Tucker said the highway already is "built out to capacity."

DWP Commission President H. David Nahai also suggested as much, but noted, "Whatever the route will be, it is our intention to follow the path of minimum impact."

When asked what he thought should be minimally impacted, the commissioner answered that everything from the environment to project costs would be involved in the final analysis.

Those who would like to comment on global warming are encouraged to share their observations on this important issue rather than get snarky about my enjoyment of warm weather.

permalink | May 6, 2007 at 09:05 AM | Comments (0)

April 13, 2007

Green Path

Here's a rather amazing story in the L.A. Times that the Desert Sun hasn't picked up yet. Additonal transmission lines are required to bring "green" power (i.e., not produced from coal, but by geothermal, solar and nuclear sources) to Los Angeles. Los Angeles' DWP has tentatively planned new transmission lines from near Desert Hot Springs to go north through Big Morongo Canyon Preserve, Pioneertown, across the Pipes Canyon Preserve and to clip off a bit of the San Bernardino National Forest before eventually hooking up to existing lines in Hesperia. I scoff at their inability to include the Mission Springs Preserve and Joshua Tree National Park in their swath.

DWP officials said they decided on a "preferred alternative" in December after studying possible routes for more than a year. They said the route they chose would be the least intrusive to existing homes, tribal lands, national parks and wilderness areas.

Environmentalists scoffed at that claim. "We were just shocked," preservationist David Myers said of his reaction after looking at a map of the route.

Myers is head of The Wildlands Conservancy, a nonprofit group that has spent $50 million assembling private wildlife corridors and preserves close to Joshua Tree National Park, the San Bernardino National Forest and elsewhere, including Pipes Canyon.

Myers accused city officials of secretly planning the route, saying that conservationists learned about it two weeks ago from a staff member of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.

Nahai said there was no attempt at secrecy but acknowledged that Myers had a point.

The day after that article appeared, the L.A. Times editorialized in favor of more transmission lines, but with additional study.

permalink | April 13, 2007 at 02:18 PM | Comments (0)