What’s Current? Issue #46 – Can an Abundance Agenda Unite Business?

Scarcity and high prices are not an inevitable fact of life in California. They are the result of political choices. For nearly 50 years, and with escalating severity that shows no sign of abating, politicians in California have enacted legislation that is explicitly responsible for unaffordable housing, unreliable and expensive energy, and chronic shortages of […]

What’s Current? Issue #45 – Forest Thinning Adds Millions of Acre Feet to California’s Water Supply

Practical solutions to California’s energy and water shortages will always have a better chance of being implemented if they adhere to the limitations placed upon them by the climate lobby. Thankfully there are numerous solutions, strategic in their impact, that would fulfill this criteria. Sadly, however, most of them remain controversial. Examples of climate compliant […]

What’s Current? Issue #44 – The Abundance Mindset

If energy powers modern civilization, then water gives it life. And in California, for at least the last 20 years, with escalating severity, life has been tough. There isn’t enough water to go around. Water scarcity is not being forced upon Californians by climate change. Like so many other fundamental challenges Californians must endure – […]

What’s Current? Issue #43 – The Crossroads of Kern County

With chronic uncertainty over water allocations for farm irrigation, and relentless and escalating regulatory assaults on its oil industry, the biggest economic sectors of Kern County are threatened. The irony is thick. Food and fuel are the prerequisites for civilization – the enabling foundation for California’s entire much broader and often spectacular economy – and […]

What’s Current? Issue #42 – Only Unity Can Challenge Environmentalism, Inc.

The California Environmental Quality Act was passed by the state legislature in 1971. At that time, it was the first legislation of its kind in the nation, if not the world. Its original intent was to “inform government decisionmakers and the public about the potential environmental effects of proposed activities and to prevent significant, avoidable environmental […]

What’s Current? Issue #41 – Water Czars Ignore Solutions to Scarcity

The Delta Tunnel proposal exemplifies California’s political dysfunction. It will probably never get built, but it promises to dominate all discussions of major state and federal spending on water infrastructure for the next decade, preventing any other big ideas from getting the attention they merit. Like the bullet train and offshore wind, it is a […]

What’s Current? Issue #40 – The Case for Oil Drilling in California

The regulatory war on oil production in California is well documented. The motivations of California’s state legislature in some cases may be well intentioned, but the regulations coming down right now are designed to destroy the oil industry in the state within a few years. Investment in energy infrastructure, certainly including extracting and refining oil, […]

What’s Current? Issue #39 – The Potential of Waste-to-Energy in California

When searching for new sources of renewable energy in California, harvesting the waste streams from our cities, farms, and forests is a logical option. But how much waste do these sources produce each year, and how much energy would they provide? Answering this question at a summary level, while retaining some shred of credible and […]

What’s Current? Issue #38 – How Much Water Will $30 Billion Buy?

So far this year I had the privilege of attending two water oriented events. The first, in February, was at the annual CalDesal conference in Sacramento. The second, in March, was at the Kern County Water Summit in Bakersfield. I sensed there is a growing recognition among the participants in both of these events that […]

What’s Current? Issue #37 – Sacramento’s War on Water and Energy

After the deluges of 2022-23, and the rainfall season so far this year delivering an above normal snowpack and above normal rain, the drought in California is over. Even the situation on the dry Colorado is much improved, with Lake Powell and Lake Mead collectively at 42 percent of capacity, up from only 32 percent of capacity at […]

What’s Current? Issue #36 – The Cost of Offshore Wind vs of Carbon Sequestration

The California Energy Commission (CEC) has set planning goals for floating offshore wind turbines, calling for between 2 and 5 gigawatts of “nameplate capacity” operating by 2030, and 25 gigawatts by 2045. Note “floating.” Unlike off the East Coast, or the North Sea, deep waters in California lie immediately offshore. So offshore wind in California […]

What’s Current? Issue #35 – The Potential of Carbon Sequestration

While the confirmed skeptic will consider Carbon Capture and Sequestration (CCS) to be the ultimate waste of money, it nonetheless is happening. Billions of dollars have already been committed, with no end in sight. Regardless of how one might judge its necessity, having some facts about CCS belongs in any serious discussion about California’s energy […]

What’s Current? Issue #34 – California’s Dubious Megaprojects

It would be inaccurate to suggest that California’s state legislature can no longer think big. They can, and as such they are carrying on a tradition that two generations ago gave us the best universities in the world, expressways and freeways that helped catalyze a boom that lasted for decades, and the most remarkable system […]

What’s Current? Issue #33 – Harvesting Urban Storm Runoff

In a normal year, by the end of March downtown Los Angeles receives 13 inches of rain. Last year 27.8 inches fell, and through March 3 of this year, 21.3 inches has already fallen. This suggests that both this year and last year, over 1.0 million acre feet of rainfall hit the region. Even in […]

What’s Current? Issue #32 – How to Deliver Affordable Energy Again in California

Californians pay some of the highest prices for energy in the United States. Gasoline last year averaged $4.89 per gallon, and diesel fuel $5.07 per gallon, both the highest in the country. Electricity rates had California 45th in the nation in 2023 at $0.27 per kilowatt-hour, the worst of every major state with the sole exception of Massachusetts, which […]

What’s Current? Issue #31 – The Potential of Rooftop Solar

California’s central planners are determined to stay ahead of the entire world when it comes to renewable energy and achieving “net zero.” It is an expensive and intrusive experiment, and we’re the lab rats. But that doesn’t mean every renewables innovation is bad. And for the hardened skeptics, we can put it another way: At […]

What’s Current? Issue #30 – The Opportunity Cost of the Delta Tunnels

Last week in Sacramento at Cal Desal’s annual conference, one of the highlights was an appearance by Wade Crowfoot, California’s Natural Resources Secretary. In his remarks, and in answer to questions from the audience, Crowfoot sought to create the impression the Newsom administration is supporting desalination projects. “The last thing we want to do is put […]

What’s Current? Issue #29 – Hardly Harvesting the Deluge

A historic barrage of atmospheric rivers hit California. Across the Sierra Nevada and down through the foothills into the valley, rivers turned into raging torrents, overflowing their banks and flooding entire communities. California’s Central Valley turned into an inland sea, as low lying farms and grasslands were incapable of draining the deluge. That was 1861, […]

What’s Current? Issue #28 – Comparing the Delta Tunnel versus Desalination

Debates over the efficacy of water projects often focus on the monthly cost to end users. For example, in May 2022, a few days before the California Coastal Commission voted unanimously to deny the final permit to build a desalination plant in Huntington Beach, the influential Los Angeles Times columnist Michael Hiltzik fretted that it “might drive up the […]

What’s Current? Issue #27 – Half of California’s Energy Comes from Crude Oil

Here’s a reality check that ought to keep politicians up at night in California. Despite being a sunny, solar friendly state, with ample areas blessed with high wind, California still derives 50 percent of its total energy from crude oil. Another 34 percent comes from natural gas. This fossil fuel total for California energy, 84 percent, […]

What’s Current? Issue #26 – The Klamath Basin ‘Restoration’ is at What Cost?

If you scan news reports and search results for Klamath Dams removal, the news is universally upbeat. “The river will run free again.” “A step towards justice.” “Largest river restoration project in American history!” But as waters now drain out of the reservoirs behind these half-demolished dams for the last time, unanswered questions persist. How […]

What’s Current? Issue #25 – Water Rationing: The Worst Way to Build Resiliency

When a public policy decision is flawed, and the reasons it is flawed are simple and obvious, and the consequences are huge and costly, the appropriate response for a concerned observer is to call attention to the looming debacle. Not just once, but over and over and over again. An example of an impending economic […]

What’s Current? Issue #24 – Challenging the Water Orthodoxy

Welcome back and Happy New Year! Just a reminder — you can find all What’s Current newsletters archived here. Most of them offer data, calculations and links on a single topic, so if you scroll through the titles of archived newsletters you can easily determine the topics that each of them covers. This week, we […]

What’s Current? Issue #23 – Creating Water Abundance

In so many ways that it almost defies description, California’s lawmakers have relied on obtuse, punitive, flawed logic to justify recently passed laws implementing urban water rationing in California. Rather than undertake the Sisyphean task of enumerating them, let’s just focus on one critical factor: the opportunity cost. California’s urban water consumption is already down […]

What’s Current? Issue #22 – Eliminating Water Scarcity

After the deluge that inundated California during our most recent water season, there is no chance Californians will confront a water supply crisis this year. Water levels, as reported by the California Data Exchange Center, are above the historical average for this date in every one of California’s major reservoirs. But storms of scarcity remain on […]

What’s Current? Issue #21 – Battery Innovations for EVs and for the Grid

If there is anything that unites Californians it is a belief that anything is possible. How else to explain our state’s mad rush into renewables. Even a skeptic ought to be impressed. With massive wealth, a diverse and resilient economy, abundant sunshine and mild winters, and infinite reserves of imagination that define our culture, the […]

What’s Current? Issue #20 – Energy and Water Killing Legislation

As we move into the final month of 2023, it is appropriate to review recent legislative actions that will have a significant impact on California’s ability to deliver abundant and affordable energy and water to its residents. There isn’t much good news. Almost without exception, the California Legislature is making energy and water scarce and […]

What’s Current? Issue #19 – Ways to Achieve Water Abundance

Thanksgiving is here again, and thankfully, California has already had one wave of storms hit the state. And thanks to last winter’s deluges, all of California’s major reservoirs are at storage levels well above historical averages. Our focus this week returns to water, and how important it is to achieve water abundance. The concept of […]

What’s Current? Issue #18 – The Feasibility of Nuclear Power

There are solutions to energy, water and infrastructure challenges that make compelling economic and environmental sense even if there was no climate crisis. But for those policymakers and influencers who believe we face an existential threat for which the only appropriate way to cope is to achieve “net zero,” these solutions ought to be even […]

What’s Current? Issue #17 – Examining the Future of Fossil Fuel

Here’s a question for every oil and gas producer in California. It is especially directed to the five “bad guys” — Exxon Mobil, Shell, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, and BP — that were recently sued by California’s grandstanding attorney general, Rob Bonta: When are you going to quit playing defense? As Alex Epstein has tirelessly expounded both […]

What’s Current? Issue #16 – Innovations in Photovoltaic and Battery Technology

Two weeks ago (ref. WC #14), we provided a blistering critique of wind energy (bias alert, not a fan), but questioning whether or not one “renewable” technology is actually renewable is not an indictment of all renewable technologies! Last week (WC #15) we surveyed electricity storage technologies, pump storage in particular. This week, we will […]

What’s Current? Issue #15 – Pump Storage and the Energy/Water Nexus

Energy is water. A filtration plant producing one million acre feet (MAF) of desalinated water over one year requires 400 megawatts of continuous power. Pumping 1 MAF per year from the pumps immediately south of the Delta through the California Aqueduct all the way into the Los Angeles Basin requires about 300 megawatts of continuous […]

What’s Current? Issue #14 – Offshore Wind is a Catastrophic Scam

It’s about time Californians of all ideological persuasions wake up and stop what is possibly the most economically wasteful and environmentally destructive project in American history: the utility scale adoption of wind energy. And with that acknowledgement of bias clearly stated, readers are invited to review this week’s selections and make up their own minds! […]

What’s Current? Issue #13 – Water Rationing via SB 1157 Will Destroy Resiliency

This week it is all about water. On October 4th, the California State Water Board held a hearing to discuss how they will implement Senate Bill 1157, passed by the State Legislature in 2022, which lowers daily indoor water use standards to 47 gallons per person starting in 2025 and 42 gallons in 2030. The […]

What’s Current? Issue #12 – Future Cities, CAL ISO, Nuclear Power, Plan for Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta

Energy. Water. Housing. In that order, California’s legislative priority should be to create abundance, and not to merely manage scarcity. Each of these essentials is a prerequisite for the next. With abundant energy, there is no constraint on our ability to heat, treat, recycle, or desalinate water, or pump it anywhere it’s needed. With abundant […]

What’s Current? Issue #11 – Hydropower Delays, More Limits on Oil & Gas, Toxic Tires, Climate Contrarians

While recommending a few carefully selected news links each week, it would be remiss to not recommend other useful sources of information on water and energy. Two come immediately to mind. Maven’s Notebook, which for years has delivered a weekly compilation of links to water related news, and Alex Epstein’s energy talking points. In Maven’s […]

What’s Current? Issue #10 – Eel River, Pacheco Reservoir, PFAS, Salton Sea

This week’s selections focus on water, starting and finishing with reminders of, respectively, complexity and controversy. It’s easy, and perhaps necessary, to sometimes reduce policy recommendations to emphatic, oversimplified prescriptions. More water supply infrastructure! Preserve options for conventional energy solutions! But take a look at our first link, a PFAS tracker. Managing PFAS — microscopic […]

What’s Current? Issue #9 – Anti-Nuke Zealots, Natural Gas Power, LA Basin’s Oil Reserves

As this week’s selection of articles describe, the conventional wisdom among California’s politicians and journalists is scarcity. Whether it’s oil that we could drill and refine in-state instead of importing, or natural gas power plants that could be upgraded to become world leaders in efficiency, or nuclear power which anyone serious about climate change ought […]

What’s Current? Issue #8 – Innovation in Desalination, Synthetic Fuels, Sites Reservoir

When it comes to achieving energy and water abundance, you can report on policies and you can recommend policies. But before doing that, it’s necessary to see the numbers, and evaluate the relevant technologies. When viewing numbers, consider most data points as numerators, and reject anecdotal comparisons. It’s easy to anecdotally describe quantities of water, […]

What’s Current? Issue #7 – CA Water Plan ’57, Climate Action Plans ’23, Hydrogen Power, Decentralize Cities

Welcome back for another edition of water and energy facts and observations. This week, we lead off by looking back, offering a link to the document that spawned the most remarkable system of interbasin water engineering in the history of the world. We’ve been living on the returns from that investment for the last 60 […]

What’s Current? Issue #6 – Cover Canals with PV, Fish Friendly Delta Diversions, Real Cause of Wildfires

Thank you for staying with us through issue #6 of our newsletter. Our goal is to provide you information on water and energy developments, focusing on California, that you may not find elsewhere. At the same time, we intend to give you useful quantitative data that you can use to evaluate energy and water proposals […]

What’s Current? Issue #5 – Sustainable Cities, Affordable Water, More Nukes, Green Lawn Guilt

This is our 5th newsletter; thanks for staying with us! If you’ve missed earlier issues or want to refer to the fact-filled reports and data we referenced and linked in the previous four issues, you can find them all now on our website under “NEWS.” We look forward to providing you many more windows into […]

What’s Current? Issue #4 – Mass Timber, Tough Questions About Water Policy, Wastewater Recycling

Welcome to Issue #4! Our goal is to bring you information about solutions for California that will create sustainable abundance. To tame that alleged oxymoron, we shall always offer you numbers. Not anecdotal numbers (enough water to fill 8 zillion Olympic-size swimming pools), but numbers that matter – the relevant units, with denominators included in […]

What’s Current? Issue #3 – Rainwater Harvesting, Desalination, Beavers Restore Watersheds

Welcome to Issue #3 of our newsletter with articles about solutions to California’s energy and water challenges, along with a few must-read reports on projects and policies that are not going to solve anything — despite their hype and ongoing political support. As always, in the articles we select and in the summaries you’ll read […]

What’s Current? Issue #2 – Saving Diablo Canyon, Water Reuse in LA, San Joaquin County Blueprint

Welcome to Issue #2 of our newsletter offering you the latest information on solutions to California’s energy and water challenges. We believe sustainable abundance is not an oxymoron, and that Californians — with their unrivaled creativity and immense wealth — are going to prove it. California Allocates $80 Million for Wastewater Recycling in Los Angeles […]

What’s Current? Issue #1 – Energy Superabundance, Water Use in California, Modular Reactors, CEQA

Welcome to the inaugural issue of our weekly newsletter, What’s Current, offering you the latest information on solutions to California’s energy and water challenges. Our mission is to share the latest news and analysis on the technologies, costs, and policy changes that will move California from the politics of scarcity to a future of sustainable […]