ARC's 1st Law: As a "progressive" online discussion grows longer, the probability of a nefarious reference to Karl Rove approaches one

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Eco-Leftists: Dashing the dreams of Eco-Leftist Into Perpetuity

Saw this post by Oliver Willis and was "intrigued" myself:

The Future?
by Oliver Willis

Intriguing look at clean energy

Just a short, simple post... but when I clicked on the link, hilarity ensued.

If you've got a high-speed connection, check out this video from RenewUS.org. The vision of the future from Renew US is that there will be wind turbines as far as the eye can see and there will be flying cars... and there will be a US Climate Secretary. (When does Kucinich win the Presidency?)

Oh, and did I mention that McCain-Obama win the Presidential election on an Independent ticket in 2008?

LOL

Anyway, Anne Applebaum in today's Washington Post reveals why this is all overly optimistic. It seems that what I referred to yesterday as NIYBY (Not In Your Backyard) has an official acronym, that of BANANA-ism: Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anything:
Tilting at Windmills
By Anne Applebaum
Wednesday, April 19, 2006; A17
[...]
To my eye, they are lovely: Graceful, delicate, white against green grass and a blue sky. Last summer my children and I stopped specially to watch a group of them, wheels turning in the breeze.

But to those who dislike them, the modern wind turbine is worse than ugly. It is an aesthetic blight, a source of noise pollution, a murderer of birds and bats. As for the still-young wind industry, it is "an environmental plunderer, with its hirelings and parasites using a few truths and the politics of wishful thinking to frame a house of lies." Far from being clean and green, "corporate wind is yet another extraction industry relying on false promises," a "poster child for irresponsible development."

Such attacks -- those come from http://www.stopillwind.org/ , the Web site of Maryland anti-wind activist Jon Boone -- are not atypical. Similar language turns up [...] on a dozen other anti-wind sites, most started by local groups opposed to a particular project. Their recent, rapid proliferation is not an accident: After languishing for years on the eco-fringe, wind energy has suddenly become mainstream. High oil prices, natural gas shortages, better technology, fear of global warming, state renewable-energy mandates and, yes, tax breaks have finally made wind farms commercially viable as well as clean. Traditional utility companies want to build them -- and thus the traditional environmental movement (which supports wind energy) has produced a handful of untraditional splinter groups that are trying to stop them.

They may succeed. Already, activists and real estate developers have stalled projects across Pennsylvania, West Virginia and New York. In Western Maryland, a proposal to build wind turbines alongside a coal mine, on a heavily logged mountaintop next to a transmission line, has just been nixed by state officials who called it too environmentally damaging. Along the coast of Nantucket, Mass. -- the only sufficiently shallow spot on the New England coast -- a coalition of anti-wind groups and summer homeowners, among them the Kennedy family, also seems set to block Cape Wind, a planned offshore wind farm. Their well-funded lobbying last month won them the attentions of Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska), who, though normally an advocate of a state's right to its own resources, has made an exception for Massachusetts and helped pass an amendment designed to kill the project altogether.
[...]
But they also reflect a deeper American malady. The problem plaguing new energy developments is no longer NIMBYism, the "Not-In-My-Back-Yard" movement. The problem now, as one wind-power executive puts it, is BANANAism: "Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anything." The anti-wind brigade, fierce though it is, pales beside the opposition to liquid natural gas terminals, and would fade entirely beside the mass movement that will oppose a new nuclear power plant. Indeed, the founders of Cape Wind say they embarked on the project in part because public antipathy prevents most other utility investments in New England.

Still, energy projects don't even have to be viable to spark opposition: Already, there are activists gearing up to fight the nascent biofuel industry, on the grounds that fields of switch grass or cornstalks needed to produce ethanol will replace rainforests and bucolic country landscapes. Soon the nonexistent "hydrogen economy" will doubtless be under attack as well. There's a lot of earnest, even bipartisan talk nowadays about the need for clean, emissions-free energy. But are we really ready, politically, to build any new energy sources at all?

I just love to see that the Kennedy's and co. are so environmentally friendly that they're unwilling to have turbines within eyeshot of their palatial estates. Isn't it just great that some of the biggest opponents to solving our energy and environmental problems are the very ones that are environmentalists?

Now, I pointed out the other day that Bill O'Reilly is a pinhead regarding his recent commentary on oil prices. But one thing that I failed to mention in that post is that, as oil prices (and thus gasoline prices) increase, alternative sources of energy suddenly become more attractive. Now, imagine that you're a granola-crunching, dope-smoking, tree-hugging activist who likes to think globally but act locally (ie think international socialism, but apply it locally), it doesn't really fit with your mindset when "traditional utilities" (you know, "evil corporations") start to take a hard look at alternative energy and actually do something about it. It's tough for you to turn over the reigns to a bunch of guys that are just in it for the profit, right? Kind of like selling out to "the man" and the whole cause loses a bit of its moral justification, right?

It's also interesting that Anne mentions the tax breaks, signed into law by President Bush, which are one incentive for local utilities to consider alternative energy. Bush is often excoriated for his lack of an energy policy, but few know the realities of his policies:
The President has set a national goal of replacing more than 75% of our oil imports from the Middle East by 2025. With America on the verge of breakthroughs in advanced energy technologies, the best way to break the addiction to foreign oil is through new technology. Since 2001, we have spent nearly $10 billion to develop cleaner, cheaper, and more reliable alternative energy sources. Tonight, the President announced the Advanced Energy Initiative, which provides for a 22% increase in clean-energy research at the Department of Energy (DOE). The Initiative will accelerate our breakthroughs in two vital areas; how we power our homes and businesses; and how we power our automobiles.

The Commisar over at Politburo Diktat has also posted on this topic...

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Comments (5)
Monkeysee said...

I LOVE the BANANA acronym. Thanks for the info and for the thoughtful discussion.

SquarePeg said...

Let's not forget that Exxon has invested more than $70 billion worldwide for exploration and expansion of oil sources and refining capacity and will continue to invest around $20 billion annually! So let's not let our government pick on our domestic oil companies.

AmScray said...

BANANA is the best acronym I may have ever heard, or will hear! As Homer Simpson would say, "It's funny because it's true."

Lots of talk about alternative energy but zero will to do anything concrete about it. I'm all for more sources of energy, conventional or alternative, but someone somewhere is going to have to make a sacrifice and actually build something. That's why ANWR is so attractive to me (sorry for the pun) because no one lives there or will ever visit.

lucky said...

Interesting post. I'm not really sure that alternative energy is going to be the solution to our problems. For example, ethanal actually takes more energy to produce than it yields, and hydrogen isn't all that stable. (And if you ask me, amscray is right about the ANWR.)

flan said...

not to mention amscray, that the locals overwhelmingly support opening ANWR...