Friday, May 29, 2009

'Why not just go south?'

Bruce Ross, the editorial page editor at my former paper, isn't necessarily buying the line from the Transmission Agency of Northern California that to run power lines from would-be renewable energy sites in the Mojave Desert would be too much of a distance.

In responding to my story in this week's Capital Press, Bruce blogs:

Still, just what is the extra cost? Certainly, as part of the environmental impact report for the TANC project, it would be vital to give a serious look to that alternative and others. The proposed NorCal line might well be the best available option to meet the various new demands on utilities, but the whole point of the environmental process is to explore options and their effects in a transparent way. I look forward to that happening with this line. TANC hasn't made its case yet.

Oh, and I'll quote from the Phase 1A report, which eventually promises to explain the methodology of renewable-cost rankings but in the meantime offers this nugger of utility wisdom:

Foresight is required in the planning of transmission development for the purpose of exploiting renewable resources. If economically inefficient resources are targeted for development, then California may burden ratepayers with "stranded costs" to connect transmission to sub-par resources.

Obviously an expensive and inefficient project isn't TANC's goal, but it's a warning worth keeping in mind.

Meanwhile, TANC, whose board voted a week and a half ago to extend the comment period on its project, just got around to sending out the press release. Nice. And they wonder why people complain about the notice they give the public about their activities.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A little bird told me about some great dairy advocates online

You know it's been a while since you've made a blog post when you can't remember your login. Sorry we, and I in particular, haven't been posting on here lately.

I've been much more active as a microblogger on Twitter than I have a blogger blogger on Blogriculture. But I wanted to check in and alert you to a couple of blog sites out there agriculture folks in general, and dairy folks in particular, may be interested in checking out regularly.

Dino Giacomazzi, aka @dairydino, of Giacomazzi Dairy in the Hanford, Calif., area of Kings County, has a website and blog where he shares a lot of great information about what he does, the dairy industry in general, and even provides tips for farm folks thinking about dipping their toes into the Twitter pool.

Giacomazzi links to several other websites and blogs, including one by Ray-Lin Dairy in Denair, Calif. Ray Prock, aka @RayLinDairy is just getting started with his blog, but he's also an active participant on Twitter.

Giacomazzi also links to a long-time friend of Blogriculture, the North View Dairy blog.

If you are interesting in agriculture, California agriculture, or the dairy industry, there may be no better time to check out what these people have to say. With milk costing more to produce than the farmers get for selling it right now, these people speak eloquently, passionately and effectively about their lives and livelihoods on the farm to the people lurking in the online world.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Could "swine" flu have been created in a petri dish?

A scientists is offering a new theory about where the current strain of H1N1 virus, known popularly as swine flu, may have originated. In a story on, a researcher says the virus may have been a man-made error.

It's doubtful you'll be reading about that theory on website operating by activist organizations promoting the theory that large hog farms in the U.S. or Mexico must be to blame.

The Centers for Disease Control doesn't think the disease started in a lab, but the story indicates the virus may have originated in South America or Africa.

Anyone else seeing anything concrete being reported out there as to what the cause of this virus might have been?

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Putting the president's tax cuts in perspective

President Obama's proposed budget will reduce federal spending by $17 billion, according the a administration's estimates. (Click here for a link to an AP story on the proposed cuts.)

That sounds like a lot of money. You or I could do a lot of stuff with $17 billion.

The cuts are part of the president's proposed in a $3.4 trillion budget. I can't fathom billion, so trillion is well beyond my scope. So I decided to cut it down to something that made more sense.

What would that level of a cut mean to someone who was making $50,000 a year, or even $20,000 a year? Here's what that would mean to your paycheck, assuming of course you got every dollar of that money and there were no such things as taxes.

Someone making $50,000 a year would lose $250 out of their paycheck. Total. For the year.

Someone making $20,000 a year would lose $100. For the year. Or to put that another way, it would be like losing about a day and a half of pay, assuming a 40-hour work week and working 5 days a week.

I wonder how many people who have been laid off or had to take weeks of unpaid furlough's would trade their circumstance this year for the sacrifice Uncle Sam may be asked to make in the next fiscal year?

Click here to download a pdf of the president's proposal.

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