‘Member all those federal rules Chertoff trampled to get Border Wall construction on track? Water, land, animals, native graves, etc. — all shrugged off with Congressionally mandated powers granted the Homeland Security Czar under the Real ID Act.
As South Texas wall portions are going up, and residents there are still trying to muck out from recent storms, the news from the Arizona portion of the wall isn’t good.
From Defenders of Wildlife (who brought you the Supreme Court-dismissed legal challenge to walling AZ):
PHOENIX— A newly obtained National Park Service report details ecological and infrastructure damage in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument caused by flood obstruction and debris accumulation along recently constructed portions of the border wall.
Damage includes severe erosion, infrastructure damage, and movement of floodwaters and drainages behind debris obstructions into adjacent deserts and, in one case, through a border-crossing station.
An environmental analysis conducted by the Department of Homeland Security in 2007 concluded that the fence would “…not impede the natural flow of water.” It would be “…designed and constructed to ensure proper conveyance of floodwaters and to eliminate the potential to cause backwater flooding on either side of the U.S.-Mexico border.”
Further, Customs and Border Protection would “…remove debris from the fence within washes/arroyos immediately after rain events to ensure that no backwater flooding occurs.” Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff has since exempted the border wall from all environmental laws.
“The callousness displayed by Homeland Security in ignoring warnings to damage a national treasure is mind-boggling,” said Robin Silver of the Center for Biological Diversity. “The border wall does not stop humans, but it will stop jaguars and other wildlife. It is already wreaking havoc on the southern part of Organ Pipe National Monument.”
Without proper hydrological reviews of how these imposing structures would impact stormwaters flowing across the border’s various deserts and communities, Homeland’s contractor e2M found “minor adverse impacts” for some portions of planned wall/fence sections, offering only increased runoff to the Rio Grande as a specific outcome. No mention of people, of course.
I suspect if they toured the soggy South now, or checked in at Organ Pipe, they may be forced to change their prognosis.
[Hear my most recent interview on wall protests and river rumblings @ SACurrent Mashup.]
“I’m guessing it was excessive exposure to either radiation or George Bush, but Senator John McCain’s comments from inside a nuclear power plant in Michigan are so cracked-brained that I fear some loose gamma rays are doing to McCain’s gray matter what they did to Homer Simpson’s.”
And that geothermal post from last week? Well, here comes a major Google investment in the fiery depths…
From Forbes, the uber-dramatic, Google Goes to Hell:
Deep underneath your feet is a hellish stone soup, kept hot by a torrent of radiation from poisonous isotopes of uranium, thorium and potassium in the earth’s superheated mantle. This is the heat that helps cause volcanoes, geysers and hot springs. And it is the heat that powers a modest number of electricity generators around the world, from Iceland to Indonesia.
This energy source remains largely untapped, though, simmering either too far below the surface to reach, or isolated from water that could carry it up.
But on Tuesday, Google.org, the philanthropic arm of search giant Google (nasdaq: GOOG – news – people ), announced it would try to help spur companies to reach underground to produce clean electricity. It is investing a total of $10 million in a geothermal energy company called AltaRock Energy and a drilling company called Potter Drilling, and it is funding research and mapping efforts and a policy agenda.
It is part of Google.org’s effort to help bring about renewable energy that is cheaper than coal by investing in companies, research and policy development. The organization is focusing on three main technologies: solar thermal power, which uses the sun’s heat to generate electricity; advanced wind technology; and, now, a way of tapping geothermal energy called enhanced geothermal systems, or EGS.
[Top image of organ pipe cactus flower credited to Eutouch and hosted by Ohranger.com.]