Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Reality of Numbers:

The highest producer of greenhouse-gas emissions in New Mexico in 2010 was the Four Corners Power Plant, which released more than 13 million metric tons of carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide and methane according to a just released EPA report. The second highest emitter was the coal-fired San Juan Generating Station located within a few short miles from the Four Corners Plant.  
San Juan Generating Plant January 26, 2012

Last week I met with Mike Eisenfeld in Farmington, NMMike is the New Mexico Energy Coordinator for the San Juan Citizens Alliance.  He is one dedicated guy.  Mike and his family have built a straw bail 100% solar powered home in Farmington. He "walks the walk".
Mike Eisenfeld with San Juan Generating Plant
I asked Mike if he could take me out to a high point where we could get an overall view of the San Juan Basin area.  I wanted to be able to see both power plants in relationship with the landscape.  His reply was a quick "sure, I know just the place".  And what a place it was.
Four Corners Power Plant
We climbed to the top of a small mesa.  From our vantage point we had a 360-degree view.  San Juan Plant to the east, Four Corners Plant to the south, Shiprock to the west, and the Colorado Rockies to the north.
Shiprock shrouded in haze produced by coal plants
Putting it all in perspective was difficult for me.  Numbers release by the EPA is one thing.  Standing on a mesa and seeing it is another.  I was without words. The drum of the power plants, the haze filled sky.

I asked Mike if he could put our feelings into words.  "I think it's important to seek out vantage points that allow us to observe the complexity of natural systems and how they interact with man-made systems for energy and electricity.  The journey of coal and the pulsing coal plants generation of electricity to communities hundreds of miles are fraught with an interesting history, the 50-year legacy of coal providing the fundamental building block for the development of the urban U.S. Southwest. The coal resources that are going into this purported inexpensive way to provide electricity for collective human needs takes a toll on the integrated natural resources that are overlooked and/or undervalued in the process, including water, land, air and the people/communities directly impacted by energy export."

Hiking down from the mesa I couldn't help but hear over and over again in my mind..."you just have to see it to realize the reality of the numbers".

be strong, be safe, Carlan

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