May 31, 2004

Face Reality

Zbigniew Brzezinski sums up Herr Bush's Iraq escapade in a May 28 New Republic essay:
"The present policy -- justified by falsehoods, pursued with unilateral arrogance, blinded by self-delusion, and stained by sadistic excesses -- cannot be corrected with a few hasty palliatives."

Government incentives boost wind power

[Quotes are from an April 4 Burlington Free Press article.]
"When states such as Connecticut and Massachusetts pass legislation that mandates their utilities invest in renewable energy, that drives up demand in the green tag market."
Interestingly, most of these schemes do not include large-scale hydro. They are designed only to make inefficient unreliable renewables economically viable on a large scale. But that doesn't make them good energy sources. It just creates an energy laundering scheme.
"Out-of-state utilities that buy green tags don't have to sell energy generated from environmentally friendly sources to their customers, but can point to the purchase of green tags as a way of supporting clean power."
That is, Vermont -- whose electricity generation and purchases is only about 1% from oil and none from coal and fully two-thirds emissions-free, and whose acid rain comes from midwestern coal plants -- would not be mitigating any CO2 or acid rain here by replacing our wild ridge lines with wind plants; instead, the developers would be selling green tags to utilities to continue to pollute from elsewhere.

May 30, 2004

Cleaner coal challenges wind

An article in today's Scotsman describes a plan to upgrade coal-burning power plants to reduce CO2 emissions by 20%. Projecting from the results of a pilot project, if all four units at the Longannet plant were converted, the savings would be equivalent to that claimed by the installation of 800 MW of wind turbines (about 500-800 towers). In fact, it would represent even more, because claims from the wind industry are invariably exaggerated. If all 18 coal-fired plants in the U.K. were converted, the CO2 saved would represent the amount claimed for 9,000 MW of wind-powered turbines. That would meet half of the U.K.'s goal for 2010. (That is all the more dramatic as electricity generation represents only a fraction of energy use; most targeted emissions come from heating and transportation.)

Although coal is not an ideal energy source, the plants already exist and provide reliable abundant power (unlike wind plants). It is clear that until real alternatives to fossil-fuel burning and nuclear fission are developed, such efforts to improve what we already have should be fostered. For now, efficiency and conservation are much better alternatives to the expensive and destructive dead end of wind power.

One man's dream

is his victim's nightmare

May 28, 2004

American troop deaths reaches 800

Eight hundred killed in Iraq as of Thursday. Meanwhile, John Ashcroft and Tom Ridge warn us that Al Qaeda is ready to strike in the U.S. They assured themselves, however, that the government will do everything it can to prevent a change of government resulting, as happened in Spain. That's a relief. But it might be hard to explain why 800 soldiers, more often now from National Guard units that shouldn't be overseas at all, have died fighting Iraqis. Where's Al Qaeda? Where's "homeland security"?

Of course, the capture -- or announcement of it -- right before the election would be an invigorating distraction, but the fact will remain that neither he nor any of his top leaders have ever been anywhere near Iraq. The family, friends, and neighbors of 800 soldiers (many more by then) will only wonder the more what their sacrifice was for.

May 27, 2004

Oregon eases noise rule for wind turbines

The state of Oregon has responded to the serious problem of noise from wind turbine facilities by changing the requirements for them.

The now-revised rule limited the amount of noise above the existing levels that could be added by a project, but developers complained that made it impossible to install large facilities in rural and wild areas. The new rule simply establishes a maximum noise level no matter where the facility is sited and removes many requirements for even measuring the sound.

While claiming that the rule change reflects the unique conditions of wind turbine noise (though in fact only pretending that noise is not a serious problem of wind plants), it fails to address the low-frequency noise that is a more penetrating nuisance and is suspected of causing health problems.

Only the power lines

stand out in the fog