Saturday, February 26, 2005

"The menaced landscape"

Here is an excerpt from Robert Macfarlane's essay in today's Guardian about the "wind rush," in which he asks, "Wind farms? You may as well take a knife to a Constable":

'Wild and open spaces, for obvious reasons, are proving most attractive to candy-grab developers, and some of the most extraordinary mountain, moor and coastal landscapes in the British Isles - unique as a Turner or a Spencer - are currently menaced with ill-thought-out development proposals.

'The debate over wind power in Britain suffers, as do so many "countryside" issues, from a crippling polarity. Both sides are guilty of this, but let me take as a relevant example Polly Toynbee, who has voiced in these pages the standard leftwing, pro-wind position.

'Those who resist the spread of wind farms, wrote Toynbee, are Tory-minded "rural nimbyists", worried about the depreciation of their properties, or peddling "sob stories" about the visual pollution of their precious views. As climate change accelerates, these people are fiddling while the world heats up. They are, she ringingly concluded, "small, selfish and short-sighted".

'Toynbee should take a trip to Lewis in the Outer Hebrides. There, the energy giant Amec is pushing to establish the world's biggest wind farm. The local community is resisting as best it can. The farm is to be built on the northern part of Mòinteach riabhach Leòdhais, the Brindled Moor of Lewis - a wind-swept, hyena-coloured expanse of bog, waterfall, cliff and scarp. The moor is one of the world's last great peat-bogs, whose ecological significance has been compared to that of the Serengeti. It is under protected status as a UN Ramsar Site, a Special Protection Area, and a Berne Convention Important Bird Area: designations that Amec would steamroll. Its biodiversity and appearance make it the centrepiece of the Hebrides' £60m-a-year tourism industry.

'The moor, in its strange, wild beauty, is also at the core of Lewis's embattled Gaelic self-identity. For centuries, the people of Lewis have worked the moor. As Finlay McLeod of the Lewis protest group has put it: "Language and even a people may go - but the land was immutable, a last and lasting bastion for human sanity and belonging. Now, this itself is seen to be under threat."

'Amec has not, of course, come to Lewis out of the greenness of its conscience. It is there for the money. It hopes, with the help of government subsidies, to make about £68m a year if the farm is built. "Farm", though, is far too homesteadish a word for what will happen if Amec gets the go-ahead. It will erect 234 turbines, each nearly 140 metres high with a blade-span of more than 80 metres. (Imagine 234 structures, each more than twice the height of Nelson's Column, and carrying a propeller with a diameter greater than the length of a Boeing 747.) The energy will be carried off the island by 210 pylons, each 26 metres high, and their adjoining overhead lines. To service the turbines, 104 miles of roads will be built, as well as nine electrical substations. Lewis, it is clear even from these bald statistics, is to be turned not into a wind farm but a wind factory.

'The Lewis development will be irreversible. Wind turbines, it is often forgotten in the organicist rhetoric of the pro-wind farmists, require anchorage. One does not simply plant them like outsize seedlings. Each turbine will be counter-sunk into 726 cubic metres of concrete. In total, 5m cubic metres of rock and 2.5m cubic metres of peat-bog will be excavated. Such statistics render ridiculous Toynbee's claim that if another renewable energy source is found "the wind-turbines can be dismantled and taken away, no harm done".

'The Lewis project is a salutary case study. It reveals that an American-Puritan error - that wild land is waste land, there to be put to industrial use - is rearing its head. Wild places, it has come to be understood, are the "uplands" of civilisation: landscapes that can renew, console, and lift us in unique ways.

'Lewis's situation also reminds us of the spiritual, aesthetic, historical and ecological values that are put at risk when extraordinary landscapes are industrially menaced. These values are harder to measure, and harder to articulate than the hard numerical wattage of the turbines. But they are, unlike the wattage, non-transferable.

'A new study by the German energy agency, the world's leading producer of wind energy, has concluded that wind farms are an inefficient tool in our desperate battle against climate change. But even if this were not the case, certain types of landscape are too valuable to be turned into outdoor power-stations. The Lewis development is only the biggest instance: one grimly thinks of the 150-turbine development in Eisken on Harris, the planned development on the Sleat peninsula on Skye, and the "interconnector" - the 50m-high pylon-line required to carry the power from the wind farms of the Scottish west coast to the southern demand centres: a knife-slash through some of Britain's wildest vistas.'

Friday, February 25, 2005

"Report doubts future of wind power"

The Guardian today (Saturday) reports the release yesterday of the "re-edited" German Energy Agency (DENA) study of integrating wind energy on the grid.

Despite having been utterly biased in favor of industrial wind power, the Guardian straighforwardly describes the implications of the study. They even quote Angela Kelly of Country Guardian without deprecation. And they print a commentary against the industrial depredation of the landscape that wind power represents. They also cite the U.K.'s own National Audit Office finding that wind power is the most expensive way of pursuing carbon emissions reduction.

A shift in opinion, perhaps? The "useful links" after the on-line article, however, are to the two most avid "green" supporters (Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth) and the industry trade group British Wind Energy Association. Fair and balanced, that isn't.

"Gale-force winds snap wind turbine propellers"

Strong winds in the Iwate prefecture, Japan, snapped the blades of three large wind turbines yesterday. One was in the city of Tono and two in the town of Otsuchi. In nearby Morioka the wind reached 31.7 meters/second (71 mph). The turbines automatically lock down when the wind speed exceeds 25 m/s (56 mph), and the blades are supposed to withstand winds up to 60 m/s (134 mph). The power company suspects that lightning strikes (at the bases of each of the blades of each of the three turbines!) had already caused cracks. The picture with the Mainichi Daily News report (click the title of this post), however, shows a completely withered, not snapped off, blade.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

"Shocking the Donkey ... Again"

"It's time to abandon our delusions, once and for all. And I am more than happy to abandon the delusion that somehow the Democratic Party can be refashioned into a reliable progressive force. I have no intention of getting fooled again. Instead, my energy now goes to building a true party of the people -- a Labor Party by that name in particular."

-- Chris Townsend

"No German Flowers for Bush"

The title of this post links to an article describing the excessive security measures required by our president's heroic paranoia:
'But Bush and his backers, American and German, want to play it very safe, and this has become a nightmare for the people of Mainz. All air traffic to the nearby Frankfurt airport is being suspended for part of the day (today, Wednesday). Boat traffic on the Rhine will be suspended despite all economic losses involved. The autobahns surrounding the city and connecting it with the airport will all be closed to traffic.

'That is still just not safe enough for this popular statesman and his giant entourage. Every manhole lid along the route has been soldered down tight. No terrorist rats will be tolerated this time. All mail boxes along the route have been carted away. Cars must not only be removed from along the route but also from garages of people living along the route. Windows must be shut and no one is allowed to stand on the balcony to wave. There won’t be much waving anyway, it seems, and the police have issued severe warnings: Anti-Bush banners or slogans must not be visible anywhere along the route, and no "insulting" banners will be allowed anywhere. There’s a law to take care of that matter. All traffic, vehicles or pedestrians, will be restricted in the areas George Bush is planning to visit.'
Even the New York Times today ran an article about the empty stage set that Mainz was made into for Bush's transit. There was supposed to be a "town meeting" with a carefully vetted group of Germans (it would have been too obvious if he only met with the U.S. troops in the base there, as Laura Bush had done), but it was cancelled. Too likely one or more of those Germans would not keep to the script.

Even so, and although Bush himself would never see them, and probably never be told of their existence (just as he was never troubled -- and neither were the media -- by nonsupporters during his self-regarding campaign for a second term), 10,000 or so Germans gathered the day for a lively demonstration of disgust.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

U.K., Inc.

The British government, just as it aggressively promotes its "neutral" support of the wind-power industry against local opposition, is now beginning a propaganda campaign for mad scientists torturing animals. In the interest of "informed" debate, they will argue the side of the animal abusers.

They have also made all protest of corporate and academic activities, even letters and leaflets, essentially illegal. A police state in thrall to business interests -- that's fascism, folks. Fascism is bad.

Monday, February 21, 2005

"Raising children as vegans 'unethical', says professor"

After studying impoverished children in Kenya, and finding that supplementing their very poor diet with meat or milk made the children healthier, this dope concludes that vegetarianism is evil.

I dare say she would have seen the same (or better) improvement had she provided the children with seitan and soy milk and a wide range of greens, for instance, along with vitamin B12 supplements (which most vegans know they need). It is obviously more difficult to maintain a comparable diet without changing the economic desperation of the people she studied, but that underscores the relative ease with which we in the "developed" world can avoid resorting to eating dead animals.

Besides B12 (available as a cheap supplement), calcium and iron are noted as concerns. Many greens have calcium, and many products, such as rice and soy milks and even orange juice, are fortified with it. Significantly, the metabolism of animal protein leaches calcium out of the body, which is why government nutritionists recommend so much. Vegans require quite a bit less to maintain their calcium. Iron (and other minerals) is available in many greens and other vegetables. Cooking in iron pots is an easy way to add it as well.

To characterize vegetarians as unethical implies that it is ethical to kill animals for food (let alone for "sport") when we no longer have to. Yet vegetarians are well documented as a much healthier group in general than animal-eaters. Not only for the sake of our fellow creatures but also for our own health, vegetarianism is without doubt the ethical choice at every stage of life.

Even if you have no problem eating dead animals, to call vegetarianism unethical is the sign of a troubled psyche.

[Click here for more information.]

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Friday, February 18, 2005

Another annual time vs. output curve

Here is a variation from Denmark on the infeed curves shown earlier this month from Ireland and Germany.


It shows the number of hours during which total infeed from Denmark's 2,374 MW of installed wind-generating capacity in 2003 was within each indicated range. The note (by Mike Hall, as presented at the Views of Scotland conference, January 15, 2005) adds the first three columns (3,250 + 1,750 + 1,000 = 6,000 hours, or 68% of the year) to state that for this amount of time (i.e., two-thirds of the year) the total infeed was not more than 600 MW, about one-fourth of the capacity.

Denmark's average wind-generation output in 2003 was 19% of capacity, or 451 MW. Drawing a curve over the graph allows us to guess that total output was 401-451 MW for 1,200 hours. Adding that to the first two columns shows that for 71%, more than two-thirds, of the time output was below the annual average. Again, that is exactly what the infeed graph from Germany shows: Wind plants produce power at or above their annual average only one-third of the time.

Bush's Willing Sycophants

Paul Craig Roberts, Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration and former Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal editorial page and Contributing Editor of National Review, writes:
"The Republican House of Representatives saw fit to impeach President Clinton for lying about sex. The same Republicans defend to the hilt Bush's lies that launched America into an unjustified war that has killed and maimed tens of thousands of Iraqis and Americans, cost taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars, ruined America's reputation, and lost forever the hearts and minds of Muslims.

"... The function of a journalist is to speak truth to power and to hold accountable those with power. Abandoning this role, the conservative media cheerleads for war, incompetent leaders, and a police state."

Thursday, February 17, 2005

John Negroponte

Death squads right here at home! Bush certainly doesn't disappoint in the pursuit of evil. Not combatting it -- manifesting.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

"mckibben emotes over his love of windturbines"

"This is just sad sad sad. here is someone who should know better, but what an ass -- it is so convenient to leave out all the ugly, pesky little details about giant wind turbines, as the hard truths about these industrial installations are too much to deal with for these pro-corporate shills who just want a quick fix to make them feel good. o look how I have contributed and sacrificed, I have lost my lovely view! (or someone else has, most likely) but how much we have all gained! and how it will stir the heart to see these monsters floating ever so gently and silently in the breeze!"

[guest comment]

Bill McKibben is tired of looking at trees

To the Editor, New York Times:

Bill McKibben ("Tilting at Windmills," op-ed, Feb. 16) criticizes opponents to industrial wind power projects as concerned only with local effects (i.e., the destruction of a landscape -- strange criticism from an environmentalist!). He himself, however, ignores the big picture.

For example, he states that Denmark gets almost 25% of their electricity from the wind. In fact, they are able to use only a small fraction of it. The grid operator in western Denmark had to dump 84% of its wind production in 2003. Whatever the actual figure, a salient fact is that, despite being saturated with giant wind towers, Denmark's CO2 emissions have not gone down.

McKibben also cites Germany's commitment to wind-generated power. A government study was recently leaked to Der Spiegel concluding that the elusive goal of CO2 reduction could be achieved much more cheaply (and without industrializing more landscapes) by simply installing filters on existing coal plants.

Here in the U.S., the Energy Information Agency estimates that if the recently renewed renewable energy production tax credit is extended, 42,000 1.5-megawatt wind turbines would be constructed by 2025. They would produce only 2-3% of our electricity and occupy a total area potentially larger than Connecticut.

Less than a third of the fossil fuels we consume goes to generating electricity, further diminishing the small positive impact wind power might have. More people switching to compact fluorescent light bulbs, or trading in gas-guzzling pickups and SUVs -- any number of efforts to increase conservation and efficiency -- would easily surpass the possible benefit of tens of thousands of giant wind turbines. The Adirondacks, along with countless other areas targeted by wind developers, could remain "forever wild" a little longer.

Enron was a big investor in wind power (their wind assets are now owned by GE), because it is indeed "business as usual," letting us think we're doing something about our energy problems when in fact we are not. Persuading us to hand over common lands in the name of a greater good, when in fact the only result is profit for the developers. The benefits McKibben describes are wishful thinking only, demanding no change at all in our habits of consumption. His claims are supported by sales brochures from the wind industry but not by the facts of actual experience or good sense.

Go vegetarian to fight global warming.

The Kyoto Protocol begins today, 100 years too late. Did you know that a third of all fuel used in the U.S. goes to meat production? Very few of us can afford to buy a new more efficient car, install solar panels, replace the furnace, or set up a geothermal exchange system like the one that keeps George Bush's utility bills down in Crawford. But everyone can give up meat.

Livestock production also consumes half of the country's water. And food animals produce 87,000 pounds of excrement per second, seriously polluting the rest of our water. Sustainability begins with our diet.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Gee, I wonder who's responsible for Bush's policies

A report on the radio this morning about the token questioning of Michael Chertoff ahead of his confirmation as Secretary of Homeland Security noted that the Democrats are trying to find out who is responsible for the Bush administration policies on torture. Hello? George W. Bush is CEO of the piratical firm that used to be our government. He's the one. Impeach the bastard.

And stop trying to work with him or his agents. This is a democracy. We can get rid of criminal thugs who worm their way into government. We certainly don't have to collaborate in their charade.

Nowhere to go?

Excerpt from "A 'Participant-Observer' on Losing Elections, Pushing Agendas," by Ralph Nader:

'Back in the 19th century, when the two party duopoly began to congeal, progressive or reform publications did not come out against slavery, women's suffrage, the industrial workers' rights to form trade unions, the farmers need for federal regulation of banks and railroads and then decline to support or even write about candidates and small parties who were championing vigorously these same issues inside the electoral arena.

'Those early journalists knew that positions of justice had to be moved into election contests, no matter how uphill was the struggle. They believed in small starts rather than least worse. And guess what -- eventually, measured by decades, the small starts continued to lose elections but their agendas took hold.

'The current crop of progressives need to rethink their imprisonment by a two centuries old, two party monopolized winner take all electoral college system. Do they want to break out of jail? Or do they want to continue sliding into the political pits with their least worse corporatized party that takes them for granted because it knows they have put out the "nowhere to go" sign?'

Saturday, February 12, 2005

More beans

According to the U.S. Energy Information Agency, if the renewable production tax credit is extended from 2005 to 2015, there will be 42,000 1.5-MW wind turbines installed in the United States by 2025, covering 3,750 square miles. These windmills would generate 206 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity per year, meeting 3.7 percent of the United States’ electricity demand in 2025.

First off, that production figure represents a capacity factor of 37.3% [206,000,000 MW-h ÷ (42,000 × 1.5 MW) ÷ 365 days ÷ 24 hours]. A more likely capacity factor is 20%, which cuts the projected output almost in half.

Second, 3,750 square miles represents 38 acres per megawatt. This is the low end of the density range for wind facilities, which use 30-60 acres per megawatt. So 42,000 1.5-MW (63,000 MW capacity) could very well take up to 5,900 square miles, larger than all of Connecticut.

A power plant the size of Connecticut to provide 2% of the country's electricity. Brilliant.

Full of beans

A guest commentary in Thursday's Upper Cape Codder by Matthew Patrick, representative of the 3rd Barnstable District in the Massachusetts House, is full of beans. For example:
"... [Cape Light Compact members] are quick to remind us that wind turbines need a backup source of electricity when the wind is not blowing. What they neglect to mention is that it is the responsibility of the wind supplier to provide backup electricity eliminating that concern for the Compact.

"... Hull has gained national recognition for placing a wind turbine at its high school that generates all of the municipal electricity ..."
The second claim is an obvious impossibility, and the first one doesn't make a bit of sense. Since when has an application for a wind-power facility included the building of a non-wind backup plant as well? And nobody expects a contracted schedule of energy to be supplied by a wind plant -- utilities have to take whatever whenever the turbines happen to spurt out, for which "performance" the operators are richly rewarded. When the wind blows, they are showered with cash whether or not the electricity is useful to the needs of the grid at the moment. And when the wind is slower -- or too fast -- the wind plant owners still enjoy accelerated depreciation. They certainly aren't expected to worry about the effect on the grid of their erratic product.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

"Our Wind Farm Story"

Excerpt of article by Pam Foringer, Fenner, N.Y.:

'... as I sit in my kitchen and type this on my computer I hear the constant hum of the blades. It's early November, a brisk day, and of course the windows are closed so that muffles the sound a little. In the summer, with the windows open there is nothing to block out the humming or the grinding sound that the turbine makes when it is being turned. For those that haven't seen a wind tower up close, they are about the height of a 30-story building and the unit on top is the size of a small travel trailer. Because the wind constantly changes direction the blades have to be turned to catch the wind. ... imagine turning a 24-ton object perched on top of a 200-ft tower. That takes a bit of force and at times the sounds that are emitted are rather eery. Depending on the weather it can sound like a grinding noise or at times the shrieking sound of a wild animal. In the winter the noise always seems much louder, perhaps because of the starkness of the season and lack of foliage to muffle the noise. Anyway, when people tell you that the wind towers are virtually noiseless, they haven't lived a couple of football fields away from one 24/7. ... regardless of whether you see them or not, you still hear them, even when they are not operating. When the brakes stop the rotors because it's too windy, you hear a clunking and a grinding that sounds like a freight train's cars bumping together. And when it's time to start them again you can at times liken it to the roar of a jet engine.

'We have some absolutely gorgeous sunrises and sunsets in Fenner. As the sun slowly rises to the east of our house it usually bathes our bedroom wall with its rays. Unfortunately, we now get a strobe effect that can drive you absolutely crazy. It's commonly called the "flicker factor." As the sun shines through the rotors it creates a shadow pattern that you would liken to a strobe light. Because of the close proximity of 4 of the towers to our house we get this light show at various times of the day as the sun travels from east to west. Most of the time I have to close our shades to prevent this from giving me a migraine. And speaking of light shows, if this one during the day isn't enough, we get the nighttime show as well. Each tower has red blinking lights on top of the turbine so unless the shades are closed in the bedroom at night there is a constant red light blinking in perfect view as we lie in bed. We have always enjoyed watching the night sky but now as we drive toward our road what you notice immediately is a huge cluster of blinking red lights.'

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Another infeed curve

The February 2004 study by the Irish Grid of the impact of wind power contains a graph like the one described in the previous post.


In this case, they are projecting from the 2001 experience of 120 MW of on-shore and 60 MW of off-shore wind power showing a combined annual average output of 37.4% capacity. Notice that with the higher capacity factor the curve flattens, bearing out the prediction of the previous post.

In this case the average level (175 MW) is at about 3,750 hours, or 2/5 rather than 1/3 of the year. But the projection is based on hourly averages only, which they admit makes the performance of the wind plant appear better. So it is likely that actual experience would shift the middle of the curve left, i.e., towards showing output at or above the annual average only 1/3 of the time.

Annual average output only one third of the time


This graph is from "Wind Report 2004," by Eon Netz, the grid operator for a third of Germany. It shows how many quarter-hours of the year the total infeed from the 5,900 MW of installed wind capacity on their system was at or above a certain amount.

For example, the highlighted horizontal rule indicates the average infeed over the whole year. It intersects the curve at about 12,500 quarter-hours, meaning that the total infeed from wind was equal to or more than the annual average for only 12,500 out of 35,040 quarter-hours, or about one third of the time.

Because wind turbine generation falls off logarithmically when the wind speed is below the ideal 30 mph or so, and the turbines have to be shut down when the wind is too fast, I would guess that this experience would also apply in regions showing better performance than the Eon Netz region's annual average of one sixth of capacity. That is, even as the average annual infeed approaches a third of capacity, and much of the curve shifts upward, it would be at or above the annual average still only a third of the time.

Environment vs. industrial wind power

"My involvement in this issue began when a wind facility was proposed for the mountain I live on. I thought I supported the development of wind power, but the idea of turning a prominent wilderness area into an industrial facility was obviously incompatible with the environmental concerns of promoting renewable energy. More research revealed many more problems with large-scale wind power, notably the disproportion of their size and impact to whatever benefit they might provide."

[Click the title of this post to go to the paper "A Problem With Wind Power."]

Friday, February 04, 2005

Expensive side show

The Scotsman features a debate this week between David Bellamy, botanist and conservationist, and Duncan McLaren, chief executive of Friends of the Earth Scotland, on the question, "Are wind farms the answer to Scotland's energy needs?" A comment:
Duncan McLaren describes the urgency of the climate crisis and the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. He does not, however, describe any evidence that sprawling wind facilities (30-60 acres per installed megawatt) are in fact a good way to reduce such emissions, let alone preserve the environment.

A year ago, the Irish grid published a study among whose findings was, "The cost of CO2 abatement arising from using large levels of wind energy penetration appears high relative to other alternatives."

A similar conclusion was found in a leaked German government report, as recently reported in the Telegraph: that reduction of greenhouse gas emissions could be achieved much more cheaply by simply installing filters on existing fossil-fuel plants.

At a Danish Wind Industry Association meeting in May last year, the head of development of Elsam, which operates over 400 MW of wind power in Denmark, stated, "Increased development of wind turbines does not reduce Danish CO2 emissions."

At best, large-scale wind power is a very expensive (to most, not to the investors of course) side show and certainly not worth industrialising the landscape for.

Bob Herbert in today's Times

'In her decision, Judge Green wrote, "Although this nation unquestionably must take strong action under the leadership of the commander in chief to protect itself against enormous and unprecedented threats, that necessity cannot negate the existence of the most basic fundamental rights for which the people of this country have fought and died for well over 200 years."

'The fundamental right in the case of the Guantánamo detainees is the right not to be deprived of liberty without due process of law. A government with the power to spirit people away and declare that's the end of the matter is exactly the kind of government the United States has always claimed to oppose, and has sometimes fought. For the United States itself to become that kind of government is spectacularly scary.

'In seeking the stay of Judge Green's ruling, the administration showed yesterday that it is committed to being that kind of government.'

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Ireland: Wind-generated power is expensive and ineffective

Similar to the leaked report from Germany (see earlier post) a study published last year by the Irish grid manager (172-KB PDF) found the benefits of wind-generated power to be small and that they decreased as more wind power was added to the system and as the system as a whole grew. Their model assumed that all energy produced from wind facilities would be used and did not consider less than hourly output fluctuations -- quite generous assumptions.

Three problems they described that mitigate the benefits of wind power were the large amount of extra energy required to start up thermal generators that would otherwise never have been turned off, the mechanical stresses of more frequent ramping of production levels up and down, and the increased prices of energy necessary to pay for any lower usage of thermal plants. They noticed that there was very little possibility of closing any non-wind facilities, because their capacity would still be needed to respond to periods of peak demand. So wind plants add more capacity (requiring more infrastructure) with almost no reduction of non-wind capacity, the latter of which must be used more inefficiently than otherwise.

As for CO2 reduction -- the primary argument for wind-generated power -- the study concludes, "The cost of CO2 abatement arising from using large levels of wind energy penetration appears high relative to other alternatives."

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Recovered history

Courtesy Sam Smith's Progressive Review.

PETER GROSE, NY TIMES, SEP 4, 1967 -- United States officials were surprised and heartened today at the size of turnout in South Vietnam's presidential election despite a Vietcong terrorist campaign to disrupt the voting. According to reports from Saigon, 83 per cent of the 5.85 million registered voters cast their ballots yesterday. Many of them risked reprisals threatened by the Vietcong. The size of the popular vote and the inability of the Vietcong to destroy the election machinery were the two salient facts in a preliminary assessment of the national election based on the incomplete returns reaching here. ... A successful election has long been seen as the keystone in President Johnson's policy of encouraging the growth of constitutional processes in South Vietnam.