Windmills and Nodding Donkeys


August 31, 2016

Waco to Denver

In the previous post, I had just picked up a new trailer for the trip from Waco to Denver.  Bottled orange Juice, if I read it right.  Actually, the now-abandoned empty is new, the “new-to-me” trailer is relatively old, but I digress. The receiver is King Sooper, which is the local version of Kroger.  No real drama  on this trip up I35W to US 287 and on to I70.  Amarillo was my fuel stop after 480 miles so I stopped there for my 10 hour  break. I get a shower about daily, now, all thanks to the loyalty card system at fuel stops.  I checked my receipt after I bought some oil and sure enough I had 3.5 showers left at the Pilot/Flying J truck stops.  I will let the readers speculate as to how one takes half a shower.

I have mentioned before that US 287 is far more interesting than an interstate and that aspect shows no signs of erosion.  Up past Fort Worth is windmill territory and I noticed a picnic area where windmill parts – a turbine blade (I estimate it to be near 100 feet long) and two tower sections – are parked.  I seem to remember seeing these before, but I cannot say for sure.  That would have been over a month ago and it would seem unlikely.  Even if the construction contractor had reason to delay delivery of these parts, he would drop them at a staging area rather than tie up the trucks and specialty trailers for this long.  Or, some economic or legal problem could have this equipment in limbo.

At the town of Electra I saw 70 idle windmills.  These are apparently the Southern extent of the likewise motionless windmills along I-40.  In all they must number well over a hundred.  It was not for lack of wind because just down the road I saw more windmills actually turning.  They all turn clockwise when viewed from upwind, by the way.  I have observed that the transmission lines are not complete and that also indicates some financial or legal deadlock.  Whatever the cause, this represents huge wasted sums of ratepayer’s and taxpayer’s money.  Please remember that both of those “payers” are you and me!

I have said before that when all is said and done, the use of wind power for central utility electric supply is – even at the best of times – hideously expensive and ecologically devastating to bird and bat populations.  This blatantly wasteful region of idle assets is far more wasteful and obviously has been going on for enough years to accumulate the hundred plus idle windmills that I first discovered three months ago.  Well at least these aren’t killing birds.

Back then was also when the Instructor had pointed out to me that many of the counties along US287 had new elaborate rest areas along the highway, new county buildings, parks and vehicles.   While he was driving, he set me a task to find out why.  I had thought at first that it might be the taxpayer money from all the boondoggle windmills, but the prosperity did not necessarily correspond to those counties with the bird-chopping eyesores.  The true source is oil and gas.  But, oil and gas are just barely visible along the highway.  The most obvious manifestations are the pump jacks  – those “nodding donkeys” that are an iconic symbol of the oil industry.  There are a few visible, but they do not dominate the landscape like windmills.  Please click the link below for a comprehensive examination of Energy use in the United States.


Above: Windmills. These are in Colorado.

There has been a quiet revolution in the Oil and Gas Industry.  You might imagine that the Industry is in a slump, especially considering myself and tens of thousands of others in the exploration field that are now “at liberty” (a nice way to say “laid off”).  What you might not see is the expansion of natural-gas based factories making petrochemicals.  It might seem more impressive if I tell you that two “petrochemicals” are plastic and fertilizer.  The US has natural gas in such abundance that we can liquefy it, ship it to Europe or China and sell it at a profit – all at a price that competes with Russian gas arriving by pipeline.  Such exports are just getting started.

You may also be surprised to learn that the US is now  exporting petroleum to Venezuela.  That’s right, Venezuela needs light crude to mix with their  heavy oil so it will flow into the tankers.  Their own production of light oil has been crippled by Communist mismanagement and may never recover.  The US now out produces the Saudis in oil and gas. They thought that they could drive the US out of the Oil business by undercutting our prices.  What they actually accomplished was to bankrupt the marginal producers (who could make money at $100 a barrel).  Meanwhile, more efficient producers bought up those assets at bargain prices and continued their quest for efficiency until, now they can and are competing with the Saudis.

Likewise, the Russians play second-fiddle to the US.  I have a short story about the Russians that describes their industrial “culture”.  In the 1930’s (long before the Cold War) Ford Motor Company went to the Soviet Union and built a truck factory.  The result was the efficient production of two and one half ton 1930’s model trucks. Fast forward to the 1980’s.  The factory was still producing brand new 1930’s model trucks.  For all their progress away from the Soviet system, they are still stuck in that mindset, to some degree.

Federal lands contain enough petroleum for centuries of US consumption.  But that bounty has been locked away – not to be developed – by the current administration.  These are the same people who are putting coal miners out of work and neglecting that clean, cheap, plentiful fuel. The excuse for the unconscionable neglect  has been “Climate Change”.  Please click the links below to find out how this “unprecedented warming of the twentieth century” is a blatant falsehood – according to Centuries of careful Scientific observation and research.  And please remember that, before I was a truck driver, I was for thirty years, a Professional Scientist studying this planet of ours.

I have to make an appearance at a Shipper, soon.  So, back to my day (and night) job for a while.




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