The “Project for A New American Century” (PNAC) was a neoconservative think tank co-founded in 1997 by Robert Kagan and William Kristol. In February 1998, PNAC members produced an open letter to President Clinton advocating regime change in Iraq due to Saddam Hussein’s persistent non-compliance with U.N. mandates. In October 1998, Congress passed the “Iraq Liberation Act” stating that “it should be the policy of the United States to support efforts to remove the regime headed by Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq.” President Clinton signed the bill and two months later pulled weapons inspectors out of Iraq and initiated a 4-day bombing campaign. But without public support, that is as far as Iraqi “liberation” got — until the 9/11/2001 attack on the U.S. provided an opportunity.
Deputy Secretary of Defense and PNAC member Paul Wolfowitz advocated using the 9/11 attack as an excuse to invade Iraq, and President Bush enthusiastically agreed. PNAC member Richard Perle, Wolfowitz, and others hit the Sunday morning news shows promoting an invasion, which Congress effectively green-lighted in October 2002.
And so the blame for the Iraq invasion was placed on Bush and the neocons. But before there was a PNAC, there was the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC). The DLC, founded in 1985 (and chaired by Bill Clinton from 1990-1991) also endorsed the invasion of Iraq after 9/11, and supported many Bush policies. In fact, much of the DLC philosophy is no different from the PNAC neocons’.
As senator, Hillary Clinton was a prominent DLC member. She and other congressional DLC members gave Bush the authority to invade Iraq. They did not do it because they were “fooled,” and it’s no surprise that the Bushes, Kagan, Perle, and Wolfowitz favor Clinton over Trump or Johnson in the 2016 election.
Neocons and neolibs are unapologetic corporatists. Clinton has not raised more than $500 million in political donations by favoring “plain folk.” She travels on a Boeing 737 jetliner with a custom paint job. She netted more than $3 million in one day’s fundraising at the Martha’s Vineyard estates of Lady de Rothschild and former Universal Studios CEO Frank Biondi, events that were interspersed with a 20-mile flight to a fundraiser at the Nantucket Island estate of the former Portugese ambassador.
The global elite are buying what those at the top always crave: the status quo. Clinton will not rock the boat that keeps her afloat. Promises she will give us stuff at the expense of those she represents are as empty as “hope and change” and “compassionate conservatism.”
There is, however, one campaign pledge that could come to fruition: the costly escalation of the government’s war on climate.
The Democratic Party platform promises to “streamline federal permitting to accelerate the construction of new transmission lines to get low-cost renewable energy to market, and incentivize wind, solar, and other renewable energy over the development of new natural gas power plants.” It promises to globally address the “climate crisis…on a scale not seen since World War II.”
Which brings us to the Verde River.
Investments in two proposed energy projects in the Upper Verde Watershed depend on federal subsidies. NextEra Energy has proposed the largest wind farm in Arizona on leased Yavapai Ranch land. Longview Energy Exchange has proposed a $4 billion pumped storage plant over the Big Chino Aquifer. The wind farm has yet to be added to the Yavapai Ranch development plan submitted to the county. The pumped storage plant’s preliminary permit was extended by Federal Energy Regulatory Commission until April 2017.
Given sufficient tax credits, taxpayer guaranteed loans, and government-mandated pricing to ensure investor profits, these two projects could help justify each other’s construction, forcing taxpayers and ratepayers to foot the bill for inefficient storage of inefficiently produced electricity. After an immediate pump out of 17,500 acre-feet of water to fill the storage reservoirs, evaporative water losses would require additional pumping, especially when aquifer recharge would be at a minimum. It’s hard to imagine how this would not reduce outflow from the aquifer into the already depleted Upper Verde.
Bad as that sounds, it could be even worse.
Back in 2008, Texas billionaire T. Boone Pickens proposed using eminent domain to open a corridor for transmission lines from the panhandle to Dallas, where he could sell electricity generated by his tax-subsidized wind farms. He also wanted that corridor for a more profitable business. Once the corridor was open, pipe could be laid to sell water pumped from the Ogallala aquifer under Pickens’ property. Public outcry put an end to that project, and Pickens wound up selling his water rights to local governments and quitting the wind power business.
The so-called “Pickens Plan” can be imagined here. NextEra builds the wind farm, Longview builds the pumped storage plant. One transmission line connects the two projects, another connects Longview to APS’s 230KV line at Willow Lake. The right-of-way to Willow Lake could then be used to pipe Prescott’s water allotment from the Big Chino.
Bye bye, Upper Verde.