Walters on Hydro Power

A good column from Dan Walters in the Sacramento Bee on the aversion to hydro-power from dams that has been a cornerstone of the environmentalist movement since the beginning, but the reasons for their antipathy to dams and virtually all human technology that makes it possible for more human beings to live on our planet is pretty convoluted but centered on the idea in #5 of the Deep Ecology platform and more can be found in our report, The American River Parkway: Protecting its Integrity and Providing Water for the River Running Through it, A Report on the Auburn Dam policy Environment, which is on our website.

An excerpt from the Walters column.

“A major component of California’s crusade against global warming, one started by former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and embraced by successor Jerry Brown, is the legal mandate to have 33 percent of electric power sales from “renewable sources” by 2020.

“The latest version of the mandate, signed by Brown last year, defines biomass, thermal, photovoltaic, wind, geothermal, fuel cells with renewable fuels, small hydroelectric projects, digester gases, landfill gases, ocean wave and tidal current generation, ocean thermal, and conversion of municipal solid waste into clean-burning fuel as officially blessed.

“The list obviously excludes California’s largest single source of electric power – plants burning natural gas – and, of course, coal-burning plants in other states. Converting hydrocarbons to electricity releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

“It also excludes nuclear power, which doesn’t emit carbon and accounts for about 11 percent of California’s electricity, but does have an unresolved waste disposal problem.

“The more curious exclusion, however, is large-scale hydroelectric power – generators, usually connected to dams, that use falling water to spin turbines.

“Hydro, which doesn’t emit carbon dioxide, already accounts for about 12 percent of the state’s power supply, according to the state Energy Commission.

“So, one might wonder, if the goal is to reduce carbon dioxide emissions why don’t we count hydro against the carbon reduction mandate? What, after all, could be more renewable than water power?

“The answer: Political correctness.

“Environmentalists dislike big dams because they’re big, because they slow the seasonal free flows that river rafters like, and because some, but not all, interfere with fish spawning.”

About David H Lukenbill

I am a native of Sacramento, as are my wife and daughter. I am a consultant to nonprofit organizations, and have a Bachelor of Science degree in Organizational Behavior and a Master of Public Administration degree, both from the University of San Francisco. We live along the American River with two cats and all the wild critters we can feed. I am the founding president of the American River Parkway Preservation Society and currently serve as the CFO and Senior Policy Director. I also volunteer as the President of The Lampstand Foundation, a nonprofit organization I founded in 2003.
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