Showing posts sorted by relevance for query environment. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query environment. Sort by date Show all posts

August 23, 2014

Wind Health Impacts Dismissed in Court?

By Eric Rosenbloom, President, National Wind Watch:

At the renewable energy industry PR site Energy & Policy Institute, dead-ender Mike Barnard claims that whenever concerns of health impacts from industrial wind turbine noise are raised at law, they are rejected. In the 49 cases from English-speaking countries that he presents, however, only 2 involved an operating wind energy facility. And in both, the facility was found to be in violation of the law. The rest involve only the existing legal framework for approving industrial wind facilities, which involves the weighing of often competing interests — and the evidence shows most clearly that national, state, or provincial interests generally trump local concerns in the matter of energy development.

Almost all of the remaining 47 (or 44, since 2 of them are duplicates and 1 is the transcript of the hearing for one of the listed cases) involve appeals of project approvals, and the issue concerns only the possibility of health impacts despite the government’s judgement and the developer’s reassurances. Oddly, 11 of them do not even consider health effects or they consider them only very narrowly (eg, shadow flicker, autism). And several of them recognize that should health effects occur, they should indeed be taken seriously. One of the rulings (Heritage Wind Farm Development Inc., Decision on Preliminary Question, Decision 2011-239, Alberta, 2012) dismisses the developer’s wish to operate the turbines at night, in violation of the conditions of the project approval. Another ruling (Hulme v. Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government & Anor, 2011) upholds amplitude modulation (“whooshing”) noise conditions that have prevented the developer from proceeding despite project approval.

As stated in Fata v. Director, Ministry of the Environment (Ontario, 2014), “Tribunals are creatures of statute.” The laws guiding the permitting of large wind energy facilities are narrow and virtually arbitrary regarding setbacks and noise limits. Until the facility is actually operating, the developer’s word is golden and the regulations are generous. After construction, the resulting impacts are weighed against the burden on the developer to mitigate them. Nonetheless, as noted above, in both post-construction cases presented by Barnard, the courts ruled in favor of the plaintiffs.

Furthermore, Barnard completely ignores the many cases that have been settled out of court, the energy company buying the plaintiff’s property rather than defending the charges of adverse health effects in public. Such settlements also typically impose gag orders on the sellers. Two examples are the purchase of several homes in Ontario and the home of Jane and Julian Davis in England.

Then there is the non–English-speaking world. One pertinent example is from Portugal, where the Supreme Court in 2013 ordered the shutting down and removal of 4 turbines near a farm because of sleep disturbance and other health effects. In late 2011, Denmark added limits of indoor low-frequency noise to its regulations, recognizing one of the unique characteristics of wind turbine noise and its health impacts.

Far from exhaustive, Barnard’s list is also not representative of legal opinion, ignoring planning decisions and regulations that consider the adverse health effects of wind turbine noise. Just one example is a North Lincolnshire project that was “rejected because of the ‘serious effect’ it would have on eight-year-old autistic twin boys living nearby”, based on the evidence from an existing project behind their home. [Also see: search for “health” and “noise” in news items at National Wind Watch tagged “victories”]

In the tables below, only the last columns (“comments”) have been added to the originals.

Australia

Case Project Location Year Type Decision comments
Cherry Tree Farm Pty Ltd. v. Mitchell Shire Council Cherry Tree Victoria 2013 Civil In favor of developer [bad link in original] permit application (allowed, with conditions, including noise limits) – “The Tribunal has no doubt that some people who live close to a wind turbine experience adverse health effects … there is not sufficient evidence to establish that the proportion of the population residing in proximity to a wind farm which experiences adverse health effects is large enough to warrant refusal of a land use that is positively encouraged by planning policy. … This view is strengthened when the proximity is required to be no less than 2 kilometres.” [emphasis added]
Paltridge and Ors v. District Council of Grant and Anor Allendale East South Australia 2011 Environment Against developer (visual amenity) appeal of planning consent (upheld)
Cherry Tree Farm Pty Ltd v. Mitchell Shire Council Cherry Tree Victoria 2013 Civil In favor of developer [bad link in original; apparently duplicate entry of Cherry Tree Farm Pty Ltd. v. Mitchell Shire Council (2013), above]
Quinn & Ors v. Regional Council of Goyder & Anor Hallett South Australia 2010 Environment In favor of developer appeal of planning consent – ‘[T]he framers of the Development Plan must have known that, even in a sparsely populated rural area such as the locality of the proposed wind farm, there will be residents who will be able to hear the turbines, and a small percentage of those residents are likely to be annoyed.’ (ie, tough)
King & Anor v. Minister for Planning; Parkesbourne-Mummel Landscape Guardians Inc v. Minister for Planning; Gullen Range Wind Farm Pty Limited v. Minister for Planning Gullen Range New South Wales 2010 Environment In favor of developer 3 appeals of project approval, none regarding health
The Sisters Wind Farm Pty Ltd v. Moyne SC Sisters Wind Farm Victoria 2010 Civil Against developer (exceeds updated noise standards) appeal of permit refusal (dismissed) – ‘It is our view that actual adverse health effects aside from the annoyance aspects of noise impact remain unproven. We do however accept that certain individuals have a much higher sensitivity to noise than others, but the impact of noise from the turbines, which is a fluctuating rather than a steady noise, does cause significant distress even at a low noise level.’
Acciona Energy Oceania Pty Ltd v. Corangamite SC Newfield Victoria 2008 Civil In favor of developer appeal of permit refusal (upheld) – ‘There is no evidence of health impacts that persuades us that rejection of the permit application is warranted given the proposal’s compliance with the applicable standards. [emphasis added] If there are significant issues arising then there needs to be some independent assessment and documentation leading, if required, to variations in the standards applied in Victoria.’
Perry v. Hepburn SC Hepburn Wind Victoria 2007 Civil In favor of developer appeal of permit approval (dismissed) – ‘There is no evidence of health impacts that persuades us that rejection of the permit application is warranted given the proposal’s compliance with the applicable standards.’ [emphasis added]
Synergy Wind Pty Ltd v. Wellington SC Yarram Victoria 2007 Civil In favor of developer appeal of permit refusal (dismissed), health concerns raised only in reference to shadow flicker
Thackeray v. Shire of South Gippsland Toora Victoria 2001 Civil In favor of developer appeal of permit approval (dismissed), health concerns not raised
Hislop & Ors v. Glenelg SC Cape Bridgewater Victoria 1998 Civil In favor of developer permit application (approved), health concerns not raised


Canada

Case Project Location Year Type Decision comments
Fata v. Director, Ministry of the Environment Bow Lake Ontario 2014 Environment In favor of developer appeals of project approval (dismissed) – ‘Tribunals are creatures of statute.’
13-124 Kroeplin v. MOE Armow Ontario 2014 Environment In favor of developer [bad link in original] appeals of project approval (dismissed)
13-096 Platinum Produce Company v. MOE South Kent Ontario 2014 Environment In favor of developer appeal of project approval (dismissed)
Drennan v. Director, Ministry of the Environment K2 Wind Huron County Ontario 2014 Environment In favor of developer appeals of project approval (dismissed)
Ostrander Point GP Inc. and another v. Prince Edward County Field Naturalists and another Ostrander Point Ontario 2014 Higher In favor of developer [bad link in original] appeal of revocation of project approval (upheld), appeal of dismissal of appeal regarding harm to birds and alvar (dismissed), and appeal of dismissal of appeal regarding harm to human health (dismissed)
1646658 Alberta Ltd., Bull Creek Wind Project Bull Creek Alberta 2014 Utility In favor of developer [bad link in original] application for project approval (approved)
Wrightman v. Director, Ministry of the Environment Adelaide Ontario 2014 Environment In favor of developer appeals of project approval (dismissed)
Bain v. Director, Ministry of the Environment Ernestown Wind Farm Ontario 2014 Environment In favor of developer [no link in original] appeals of project approval (dismissed)
Bovaird v. Director, Ministry of the Environment Melancthon Extension Ontario 2013 Environment In favor of developer appeal of project approval (dismissed)
Alliance to Protect Prince Edward County v. Director, Ministry of the Environment Ostrander Point Ontario 2013 Environment Against developer due to endangered turtle appeals of project approval (dismissed regarding human health; allowed regarding plant life, animal life or natural environment) – overturned in Ostrander Point GP Inc. and another v. Prince Edward County Field Naturalists and another (2014), above
Monture v. Director, Ministry of the Environment Haldimand Summerhaven project Ontario 2012 Environment In favor of developer appeals of project approval (dismissed)
Monture v. Director, Ministry of the Environment (Monture 2) Haldimand Grand Renewable Wind Ontario 2012 Environment In favor of developer appeals of project approval (dismissed)
Chatham-Kent Wind Action Inc. v. Director, Ministry of the Environment South Kent Ontario 2012 Environment In favor of developer appeal of project approval (dismissed)
Heritage Wind Farm Development Inc., Decision on Preliminary Question, Decision 2011-239 Heritage Wind Farm Alberta 2012 Utility Against developer application for variance of approval condition to shut down turbines at night (dismissed)
Erickson v. Director, Ministry of the Environment Chatham Kent Suncor Ontario 2011 Environment In favor of developer appeals of project approval (dismissed) – ‘While the Appellants were not successful in their appeals, the Tribunal notes that their involvement and that of the Respondents, has served to advance the state of the debate about wind turbines and human health. This case has successfully shown that the debate should not be simplified to one about whether wind turbines can cause harm to humans. The evidence presented to the Tribunal demonstrates that they can, if facilities are placed too close to residents. The debate has now evolved to one of degree. The question that should be asked is: What protections, such as permissible noise levels or setback distances, are appropriate to protect human health? … Just because the Appellants have not succeeded in their appeals, that is no excuse to close the book on further research. On the contrary, further research should help resolve some of the significant questions that the Appellants have raised.’
Hanna v. Ontario (Attorney General) Wind farm enabling legislation Ontario 2011 Higher In favor of industry challenge of provincial setback requirements (dismissed) – ‘[U]nder s. 11 of the EBR, the minister must take every reasonable step to consider all ten principles, a process which involves a policy-laden weighing and balancing of competing principles. … The health concerns for persons living in proximity to wind turbines cannot be denigrated, but they do not trump all other considerations. … It is not the court's function to question the wisdom of the minister's decision, or even whether it was reasonable. If the minister followed the process mandated by s. 11 of the EBR, his decision is unassailable on a judicial review application.’
McKinnon v. RMs Martin and Moosomin, Red Lily Wind Red Lily Saskatchewan 2010 Civil In favor of developer motion for injunction (dismissed)


New Zealand

Case Project Location Year Type Decision comments
New Zealand Wind Farms Limited v. Palmerston North City Council Te Rere Hau Palmerston North 2013 Higher In favor of developer [link same as Palmerston North City Council v. New Zealand Windfarms Limited (2012), below]
Meridian Energy Limited v. Hurunui Bistrict and Canterbury Regional Councils Hurunui North Canterbury 2013 Environment In favor of developer application for project consent (granted)
Palmerston North City Council v. New Zealand Windfarms Limited Te Rere Hau New Zealand 2012 Environment Against developer challenge of noise compliance (granted) – update, Dec. 2017
Mainpower NZ Limited v. Hurunui District Council Mt. Cass Canterbury 2011 Environment In favor of developer appeal of consent refusal (upheld) – ‘we accept that there can be no guarantee of absolute protection for the health and wellbeing of their child [with autism]’ (only health concern raised)
Rangitikei Guardians Society Inc v. Manawatu-Wanganui Regional Council Project Central Wind Taihape 2010 Environment In favor of developer [no link in original] appeal of project consent (dismissed)


United Kingdom

Case Project Location Year Type Decision comments
South Northamptonshire Council & Anor v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government & Anor Spring Farm Ridge Northamptonshire 2013 Higher Against developer appeal of upheld appeal of planning refusal (upheld), health concerns not raised
Hulme v. Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government & Anor Den Brook Devon 2011 Higher In favor of developer appeal of conditions of redetermined planning approval (upheld appeal of dismissed appeal of upheld appeal of planning refusal (dismissed) – upheld amplitude modulation noise condition, health concerns not raised
Barnes & Anor v. Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Crosslands Farm Cumbria 2010 Higher In favor of developer appeal of upheld appeal of planning refusal (rejected), health concerns not raised
Tegni Cymru Cyf v. The Welsh Ministers & Anor Gorsedd Bran Denbighshire 2010 Higher In favor of developer appeal of rejected appeal of planning refusal (upheld), health concerns not raised
Hulme, R (on the application of) v. Secretary of State for Communities & Local Government Den Brook Devon 2010 Higher In favor of developer [hearing of Hulme v. Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government & Anor (2011), above]
Tegni Cymru Cyf v. The Welsh Ministers & Anor Gorsedd Bran Denbighshire 2010 Higher Against developer appeal of Tegni Cymru Cyf v. The Welsh Ministers & Anor (2010), above, health concerns not raised
The Friends of Hethel Ltd, R (on the application of) v. Ecotricity Lotus Cars Norfolk 2009 Higher In favor of developer appeal of planning permission, health concerns not raised
North Devon District Council, R (on the application of) v. Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise & Regulatory Reform & Anor Fullabrook Down Devon 2008 Higher In favor of developer appeal and application for judicial review of planning permission (appeal dismissed, permission to apply for judicial review granted), health concerns not raised
CRE Energy Ltd Re: A Decision Of The Scottish Ministers [2006] ScotCS CSOH_131 (29 August 2006) Borrowston Scotland 2006 Higher Against developer appeal of planning refusal, health concerns not raised


United States

Case Project Location Year Type Decision comments
Town of Falmouth v. Town of Falmouth Zoning Board of Appeals & others Falmouth Massachusetts 2013 Higher Against developer motion for injunction (allowed) – turbines off 7pm-7am Mon-Sat, Sun, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's – update: complete shutdown ordered in June 2017
Lawrence J. Frigault et al., Respondents-Appellants, v. Town of Richfield Planning Board et al., Apellants-Respondents, et al., Respondent. Monticello Winds New York 2013 Higher In favor of developer appeal of upheld appeal of permit approval (upheld), health concerns not raised
The Blue Mountain Alliance; Norm Kralman; Richard Jolly; Dave Price; Robin Severe; and Cindy Severe, Petitioners, v. Energy Facility Siting Council; and Site Certificate Holder Helix Windpower Facility, LLC. Respondents. Helix Wind Power Facility Oregon 2013 Higher In favor of developer appeal of certificate approval ignoring country setback ordinance, health concerns not specifically raised
Friends of Maine Mountains v. Board of Environmental Protection Saddleback Ridge Maine 2012 Higher Against developer appeal of permit approval (upheld) – ‘Because the Board is responsible for regulating sound levels in order to minimize health impacts—and because when doing so it determined that the appropriate nighttime sound level limit to minimize health impacts is 42 dBA—the Board abused its discretion by approving Saddleback's permit applications.’
Concerned Citizens to Save Roxbury et al. v. Board of Environmental Protection et al. Record Hill Maine 2011 Higher In favor of developer appeal of permit approval (dismissed)
Application of Buckeye Wind, LLC., for a Certificate to Construct Wind–Powered Electric Generation Facilities in Champaign County, Ohio; Union Neighbors United et al., Appellants; Power Siting Board et al., Appellees Champaign County Ohio 2010 Higher In favor of developer appeal of project approval (dismissed), health concerns not raised – ‘the board acted in accordance with all pertinent statutes and regulations’
Arthur and Elke Plaxton, Appellants v. Lycoming County Zoning Hearing Board and Laurel Hill Wind Energy, LLC. Laurel Ridge Pennsylvania 2009 Higher In favor of developer challenge of county zoning amendments (dismissed), health concerns not specifically raised
Roberts v. Manitowoc County Board of Adjustment Twin Creeks Wind Park Wisconsin 2006 Higher In favor of developer appeal of permit approval (dismissed), health concerns not specifically raised

wind power, wind energy, wind turbines, wind farms, human rights

May 30, 2007

Go vegan to help climate, says [U.K.] Government

By Charles Clover, Environment Editor, Telegraph:

It would help tackle the problem of climate change if people ate less meat, according to a Government agency.

A leaked email to a vegetarian campaign group from an Environment Agency official expresses sympathy with the environmental benefits of a vegan diet, which bans dairy products and fish.

The agency also says the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is considering recommending eating less meat as one of the "key environmental behaviour changes" needed to save the planet. ...

The agency's official was responding to an email from the vegan group Viva, which argues that it is more efficient to use land to grow crops for direct consumption by humans rather than feeding them to dairy cows or livestock raised for meat.

The campaign group entered a comment on the Environment Agency's website saying: "Adopting a vegan diet reduces one person's impact on the environment even more than giving up their car or forgoing several plane trips a year! Why aren't you promoting this message as part of your [World Environment Day] campaign?"

An agency official replied: "Whilst potential benefit of a vegan diet in terms of climate impact could be very significant, encouraging the public to take a lifestyle decision as substantial as becoming vegan would be a request few are likely to take up.

"You will be interested to hear that the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is working on a set of key environmental behaviour changes to mitigate climate change. Consumption of animal protein has been highlighted within that work. As a result the issue may start to figure in climate change communications in the future. It will be a case of introducing this gently as there is a risk of alienating the public majority.

"Future Environment Agency communications are unlikely to ever suggest adopting a fully vegan lifestyle, but certainly encouraging people to examine their consumption of animal protein could be a key message."

environment, environmentalism, animal rights, vegetarianism

January 6, 2007

Noam Mohr on meat-eating and the environment

The global costs of a meat diet
The Green Times (Penn Environmental Group), Spring 1997
If you care about the environment, you had better be a vegetarian. Why? Because meat consumption is one of the primary causes of environmental devastation, including the misuse of natural resources, the polluting of water and air, and the destruction of rainforests. All this comes in addition to the immense cruelty to animals and the contribution to the world hunger problem caused by the modern meat industry. In short, a carnivorous environmentalist is a hypocrite. Strong words? take a look at meat industry and judge for yourself.

Modern meat production is both wasteful and destructive. Each pound of steak from feedlot-raised steers that you eat comes at the cost of 5 pounds of grain, 2,500 gallons of water, the energy equivalent of a gallon of gasoline, and about twenty-five pounds of eroded topsoil. Indeed, over a third of the North American continent is devoted to grazing, and over a half of this country's cropland is dedicated to growing feed for livestock. What is more, the livestock industry consumes over half of the water used in the US.

In every one of these ways, as discussed below, a vegetarian diet exerts less strain on our resources that does a carnivorous one. ...

Meat production around the globe not only wastes the water it uses, it also pollutes the water it does not use. ...

Perhaps the most devastating environmental impact of America's appetite for meat is deforestation. The primary reason for the destruction of rainforests in countries like Costa Rica, Colombia, Brazil, Malaysia, Thailand, and Indonesia, is to provide grazing land for cattle, virtually all of which goes not to the poor in these third world nations, but rather is exported to wealthy countries like the United States. ...

Meat production is not only damaging to the environment, but in more immediate ways to the global human population as well. Land that could be used to grow food to feed hungry people is instead used to grow food for the animals we eat.

How environmentalists are overlooking vegetarianism as the most effective tool against climate change in our lifetimes
The McDougall Newsletter, December 2006
Summary: Global warming poses one of the most serious threats to the global environment ever faced in human history. Yet by focusing entirely on carbon dioxide emissions, major environmental organizations have failed to account for published data showing that other gases are the main culprits behind the global warming we see today. As a result, they are neglecting what might be the most effective strategy for reducing global warming in our lifetimes: advocating a vegetarian diet. ...

By far the most important non-CO2 greenhouse gas is methane, and the number one source of methane worldwide is animal agriculture ["Global Warming Potentials," National Emissions, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency].

Methane is responsible for nearly as much global warming as all other non-CO2 greenhouse gases put together [Hansen, James E. and Makiko Sato, "Trends of measured climate forcing agents," Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, vol. 98, no. 26, 18 Dec. 2001, p. 14778-14783]. Methane is 23 times more powerful a greenhouse gas than CO2 ["Global Warming Potentials"]. While atmospheric concentrations of CO2 have risen by about 31% since pre-industrial times, methane concentrations have more than doubled ["Emissions of Greenhouse Gases in the United States 2002," Chapter 1, Energy Information Administration, U.S. Department of Energy, October 2003]. Whereas human sources of CO2 amount to just 3% of natural emissions, human sources produce one and a half times as much methane as all natural sources ["Emissions of Greenhouse Gases in the United States 2002"]. In fact, the effect of our methane emissions may be compounded as methane-induced warming in turn stimulates microbial decay of organic matter in wetlands—the primary natural source of methane [Hansen, James E. et al., "Global warming in the twenty-first century: An alternative scenario," Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, vol. 97, no. 18, 29 Aug. 2000, p. 9876].

... [U]nlike carbon dioxide which can remain in the air for more than a century, methane cycles out of the atmosphere in just eight years, so that lower methane emissions quickly translate to cooling of the earth. ...

Moreover, the same factory farms responsible for these methane emissions also use up most of the country's water supply, and denude most of its wilderness for rangeland and growing feed. Creating rangeland to feed western nations' growing appetite for meat has been a major source of deforestation and desertification in third world countries. Factory farm waste lagoons are a leading source of water pollution in the U.S. Indeed, because of animal agriculture's high demand for fossil fuels, the average American diet is far more CO2-polluting than a plant-based one [Pimentel, David and Marcia Pimentel, "Sustainability of Meat-Based and Plant-Based Diets and the Environment", American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, col. 78, no. 3, September 2003, p. 660S-663S; Tidwell, Mike, "Food and the Climate Crisis: What You Eat Affects the Sky," Sierra Club Redwood Chapter Newsletter, Dec./Jan. 2005].
Click here to see a graph showing the greenhouse effects of various diets.

tags: environment, environmentalism, ecoanarchism, animal rights, vegetarianism

November 25, 2008

Jeffrey St. Clair on today's environmental groups

'They [the large environmental groups] are shackled by their source of money, shackled by their relationship to the Democratic Party, shackled by the fact that their boards are controlled by corporate executives. ... The environment isn’t even talked about in political campaigns much anymore … aside from these airy homilies about global warming, or green jobs to try and reinvigorate the economy. ... It’s a tragic waste that hundreds of millions each year are going to these large organizations. What it means is that people are now left to fend for themselves, to mount their own resistance. ...'

Q: In the early 1990s, some journalists were talking about the limits to growth. As the ecological crises have gotten more dire and potentially more fatal to the human species, it seems like that’s not such a discussion any more in the mainstream.

'What they would like is sort of the Gore approach, which is painless optimism. And that’s not the way it is. These issues, down at the grassroots, are life and death issues. They’re not being reported, they’re not part of policy. There aren’t any easy solutions, there aren’t fifty easy ways you can save the planet. That’s what they want, but that’s not going to do it. And you can’t shop your way to a better planet.

'Difficult choices are going to have to be made in terms of growth, in terms of energy. I mean, California is essentially out of water. What are you going to do, are you going to spend billions of dollars to build a peripheral canal that won’t even solve your problem? Meanwhile, the ecology of your state is crashing. ...

'We’re not going to get our way out of this energy crisis as long as the energy system remains centralized. It’s just not going to happen. ... If you democratize energy production you can begin to enact the kind of fundamental changes we need. ... But if the question is the future of the atmosphere of the planet, I don’t think that’s going to get you very far. ... So frankly, I don’t think there are any solutions, because I think the climate crisis and the extinction crisis are beyond our control. Thirty years ago, if we’d made radically different choices, perhaps. There’s an element of hubris in this [that recalls] British philosopher David Ehrenfeld’s view of technology and the environment, the arrogance of humanism. The idea that a technological solution can stall or reverse climate change is almost the same kind of hubris that got us into this mess. ...

'What it’s going to require, even to feel good about yourself, as the planet careens toward a kind of climate Armageddon, is a radical downscaling. What we’re being offered is a kind of short-selling of the environment. The solutions from Gore, the solutions of many of the mainstream environmental groups, are a kind of profit-taking as the planet hurtles toward a radical reshaping of the global ecosystem which I think spells doom at the end of the line for mammalian species. That’s what these solutions are about. They’re about how to make money, how to capitalize off the anxiety and panic and guilt and hopelessness that many people feel about the state of the environment. ...'

Q: Will the economic crisis result in foundation money drying up for the big environmental groups and for smaller ones?

'Well, that is a positive. These major foundations have been like cloning shops for environmental groups. They control their agenda, they want all of them to look the same, behave the same, be utterly predictable, and dependent upon their money. Once you get on the foundation dole, it’s like becoming like a meth addict. A lot of them, certainly the smaller groups, will lose their funding first, and that’s going to be a very good thing. The weaning process is going to hurt for a while. But when they emerge from that, they’re going to be much better off. That’s what I’m interested in—the varieties of resistance to industrial capitalism and neoliberalism, the forces that are exploiting the planet. The first mission of the foundations was to take critiques of capitalism off the table. Hopefully in the future, you’re going to be seeing, five to ten years from now, much more indigenous radical and unpredictable, organic environmental groups that will end up being much more effective, much more healing for people.

'You want it to be fun, like Edward Abbey says… of all the movements out there, the environmental movement should probably be the most fun. You can see what you’re fighting for, the kind of direct actions and protests that you can engage in are much more exhilarating than a lot of other issues. And it has to be fun, otherwise you’re going to burn out. One of the things the foundations have done is turn it into a bureaucracy. It’s easier to control that way.'

Q: Do you see the environmental justice movement as holding hope for a shift toward that kind of activism?

'Yeah, I do. Environmental justice became a sort of passing interest of the foundations in the ‘90s. But the big money never came. It was the same old white Eastern elites pimping off of their issues, with the exception of Greenpeace, which probably was the only big environmental group that had a commitment on environmental justice issues in the Mississippi Delta Region, in Cancer Alley. They actually went there and listened to people living in the chemical soup bowl. And they put their expertise at direct action, how to train people in Cancer Alley, how to shut down a chemical plant for a day with a protest.

'The other groups remained in DC, they put out their White Papers, and when interest eroded in environmental justice they moved on to something else. I think people will be happy to extract themselves from the likes of the Environmental Defense Fund and the NRDC.'

Published in Terrain Magazine, Fall/Winter 2008

environment, environmentalism, human rights, animal rights, anarchism, ecoanarchism

June 24, 2012

Climate change hysteria

There is only one thing worse than climate change hysteria, and that is the hysteria of climate change denial.

There is no denying the fact that humans make a mess of their environment. This is not news. Environmental concerns are neverending and myriad.

Slowing the human contribution to climate change will not stop all the other crimes against our planet, nor would debunking climate alarmism or exposing opportunism obviate the need to be as concerned as ever about our environment.

Hysteria on both sides, both driven by fears we are all susceptible to, ultimately ensures that business carries on as usual, exploiting those fears, playing one group against another, and walking away with easy profits. And the environment continues to lose.

environment, environmentalism

April 3, 2009

Build more: Use more

How do we persuade people to drive less—an environmental necessity—while also encouraging them to revive our staggering economy by buying new cars? The popular answer—switch to hybrids—leaves the fundamental problem unaddressed. Increasing the fuel efficiency of a car is mathematically indistinguishable from lowering the price of its fuel; it’s just fiddling with the other side of the equation. If doubling the cost of gas gives drivers an environmentally valuable incentive to drive less—the recent oil-price spike pushed down consumption and vehicle miles travelled, stimulated investment in renewable energy, increased public transit ridership, and killed the Hummer—then doubling the efficiency of cars makes that incentive disappear. Getting more miles to the gallon is of no benefit to the environment if it leads to an increase in driving—and the response of drivers to decreases in the cost of driving is to drive more. Increases in fuel efficiency could be bad for the environment unless they’re accompanied by powerful disincentives that force drivers to find alternatives to hundred-mile commutes. And a national carbon policy, if it’s to have a real impact, will almost certainly need to bring American fuel prices back to at least where they were at their peak in the summer of 2008. Electric cars are not the panacea they are sometimes claimed to be, not only because the electricity they run on has to be generated somewhere but also because making driving less expensive does nothing to discourage people from sprawling across the face of the planet, promoting forms of development that are inherently and catastrophically wasteful.

--David Owen, "Economy vs. environment", The New Yorker, Mar 30, 2009

So the more electricity that is produced without burning those fossil fuels, the less fossil fuel will be burned, putting less greenhouse-creating goop in the air and therefore easing (or at least not exacerbating) global warming. Right?

No. Wrong.

Or at least doubtful.

Unless the expansion of wind, solar, and other renewable power sources is accompanied by some mechanism to reduce the demand for - and therefore the production of - electricity from coal and oil.

The reason, according to many experts (and not refuted by any) is that the human demand - or at least the American human demand - for electricity is effectively infinite. The more that is produced, the more that will be consumed, as our technological and innovative (and somewhat hedonistic) society creates more electronic gadgets. ...

There is, of course, another way to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases produced by power generation: use less power. That does not require slower economic growth, as demonstrated in one state - this one.

--Jon Margolis, "The wind and the warmth", Vermont New Guy, Apr 2, 2009

wind power, wind energy, environment, environmentalism, Vermont

October 1, 2007

Non Aux Eoliennes!

Demonstration this Friday, October 6, in front of the Environment Ministry in Paris at 2:00 in the afternoon

Community and environmental groups from all over France will be demonstrating against the madness of industrial wind turbine development. They will be demanding that the Environment Ministry protect the environment instead of wreck it.

For details, go to the Collectif 6 Octobre web site.

wind power, wind energy, wind farms, wind turbines, environment, environmentalism, human rights, animal rights

April 19, 2007

Maori landscape saved from industrial wind development

Press Release from The Maori Party (New Zealand), via National Wind Watch (also see related news story):

The Maori Party has today welcomed the findings of the Environment Court in ruling against the erection of 37 turbines along Te Waka Range skyline on the Napier-Taupo Road.

“The site of the Te Waka –Titiohanga-Maungaharuru range is a distinctive feature of the Hawkes Bay” said Maori Party Co-leader, Dr Pita Sharples. “It creates an unique skyline which has great value as a landform, as a recreation resource, and a milestone landmark”.

“I am sure that the Prime Minister, as Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage would appreciate how landscapes of such exquisite beauty, feed the soul and nourish the spirit” said Dr Sharples.

“Importantly, it is also of great significance to the peoples of Ngati Tukuru of Ngati Kahungunu” said Dr Sharples. “The Maungahururu Ridge recalls the journey of the Takitimu Canoe, is a navigation aid, and a traditional source of kereru (wood pigeon).

“The naming of ‘Te Waka’ reflects its appearance as the shape of the waka on the skyline” added Dr Sharples. “There are values and stories associated with this landscape which our people hold great meaning by”.

“The land is also of special value to the Hineuru people of Tuwharetoa, the descendants of whom still occupy this land” said Dr Sharples.

“We are pleased that the relationship Ngati Kahungunu and Tuwharetoa have with their ancestral lands, waahi tapu and other taonga has been acknowledged in this decision”

The Maori Party is also pleased that the Environment Court has recognised the national importance of protecting outstanding natural features and landscapes (as required by Section 6 of the Resource Management Act 1991).

“Judge Thompson has carefully considered the adverse effects of the visual pollution that would dominate the Te Waka landscape and balanced this, and the important ancestral beliefs of mana whenua, alongside the benefits of establishing alternative energy sources” said Dr Sharples.

“These landscapes are of importance to all New Zealanders” said Dr Sharples.

“While we must all do what we can to look at renewable energy resources, the Environment Court has, on balance, respected the views of Ngati Kahungunu and Tuwharetoa, the advice of landscape specialists, and the local Hawkes Bay community in reaching their decision”.

Dr Pita Sharples, Co-leader, Maori Party

wind power, wind energy, environment, environmentalism, human rights

July 5, 2006

Statement from Protect the Flint Hills, Kansas

From Protect the Flint Hills:

PPM Energy [a subsidiary of Scottish Power] has fragmented and damaged 8,000 acres of the endangered Flint Hills Tallgrass Prairie ecosystem with the Elk River industrial wind complex.

They pay no state or local taxes, but will donate $150,000 per year to Butler County in hopes that we will overlook the fact that foreign and out-of-state investors transformed pristine virgin prairie into a "government subsidy farm."

It's time for the public to recognize that wind energy developers are not as concerned about the environment as they are about making large amounts of money. If developers really cared about the environment, they would not target ecologically sensitive areas. They would pursue wind leases in locations that are suitable for industrial development.

This problem is not unique to the Kansas Flint Hills. Throughout the world wind developers are attempting to build facilities in unspoiled natural places. Rather than focus on finding appropriate locations for wind turbines and protecting the environment, they focus on the corporate bottom line.

For more information on inappropriate wind turbine siting, go to the Protect the Flint Hills web site at protecttheflinthills.org

wind power, wind energy, wind farms, environment, environmentalism, animal rights

June 28, 2006

Scudder Parker running for wind turbine salesman

Scudder Parker for Governor:
My Vision for Vermont's Energy Future

[excerpts]

Just as healthcare is a right, not a privilege, I believe that all Vermonters have shared, basic rights concerning energy.

Vermont Energy Empowerment Principles
  • Reliability: All Vermonters should have access to secure and reliable heat, electricity and transportation, even in the face of external problems such as market changes, supply disruptions or political instability abroad.

  • Security: All Vermonters (individuals, communities and businesses) should be able to stay warm, keep the lights on, and get from one place to another without having to sacrifice other basic needs.

  • Responsibility: Vermonters have the right to an energy supply that reflects concern for economic strength, the environment and their communities.

  • Leadership ...
Energy problems facing Vermont have been left unaddressed:
  • Rising energy costs and price volatility.

  • Higher demand, fewer traditional resources, looming threat of Peak Oil.

  • End of contracts with Hydro-Québec and Vermont Yankee.

  • Negative effects of global warming theaten Vermont's economy (i.e.: ski industry, maple trees, agriculture).

  • Unreliable and strained electric grid.
... [T]he Douglas administration has proposed wind-siting regulations that are the most sweeping and complex of any regulations in the history of the state.

... In my first year in office, I will help businesses stabilize energy costs and create jobs by implementing the following: ... A plan to promote -- not discourage -- renewable energy, including wind, thus creating more jobs and protecting our environment.
Most of what Parker says and proposes is spot on (about health care, too). But his "leadership" on wind power has obviously been hijacked by the industry. Tom Gray of the American Wind Energy Association, after all, is a county chairman of the Vermont Democratic Party. The comments below pertain only to electricity and the push for big wind (Parker doesn't even mention home generation).

Reliability: Wind turbines generate only two-thirds of the time. They generate at or above their annual average (which is 21% of capacity at Searsburg) only one-third of the time. They respond to the minute-to-minute fluctuations of the wind, not to user demand.

Security: Not only will industrial wind facilities not "keep the lights on" (see Reliability, above), their erection requires many Vermonters to "sacrifice other basic needs," such as health, wildness, and rural tranquility.

Responsibility: Two-thirds or more of the cost of erecting industrial wind facilities is paid for by tax- and ratepayers to ensure handsome returns for private investors. Yet they do not add reliability or security to the electrical supply.

Rising and volatile prices: As they have discovered in Judith Gap, Montana, wind power on the grid has added substantial variability to the system which must be balanced by increased purchase of energy on the spot market.

Fewer resources: Vermont uses almost no fossil fuel for electricity. Even if we did, wind's intermittency and variability ensure that the use of other fuels is not reduced. Germany, with about a third of the world's installed wind capacity, is planning new coal plants as much as ever.

End of contract and license: The contract with Hydro-Québec will have to be renewed. How hard is that? And though it ought to be shut down, there's no sign that Vermont Yankee is going to be.

Global warming: In Vermont, our greenhouse gas emissions have almost nothing to do with electricity. They're from transport and heating, which Parker does address. In the realm of electricity, however, this issue requires a national and global effort to reduce consumption and clean up generation. New more sustainable sources of energy will be a part of that, but industrial wind power is a symbolic but ultimately meaningless and destructive sideshow.

Strained grid: See Reliability, above. Giant wind turbines will strain it even more, with huge surges and dips that are largely unpredictable.

Regulations: Vermont's environmental law, Act 250, effectively prevents development of the upper elevations and ridgelines of our mountains. Many towns have zoning laws further protecting such areas. But those are precisely the locations targeted by wind developers. In the Section 248 guidelines for public utilities, there was no mention of the special circumstances of large-scale wind plant siting. The state Agency of Natural Resources (ANR) determined that industrial wind was incompatible with its mission to preserve state lands for the benefit of all Vermonters. They also emphasize the unique ecosystems of higher elevations and the importance of keeping them undeveloped. As for the public service board, the "sweeping and complex" changes essentially require better public notification and allow a greater area for intervenors, since the sites would be prominent and the machines are so large (and, day and night, move and are lit), and specify that the ANR is an automatic intervenor.

Naturally, the industry does not want a fair process. They want one that they control, like they apparently control Scudder Parker's thinking about big wind. They want us to swallow their pablum about energy costs, jobs, and the environment and not have to show any evidence to back up their claims. They want to industrialize Vermont's mountaintops and don't want any one questioning the usefulness, much less the wisdom, of it.

wind power, wind energy, environment, environmentalism, Vermont, animal rights

June 22, 2009

Statement on Wind Power Generation in the Adirondack Park

By John Davis, Adirondack land conservationist:

The development of alternatives to traditional forms of electric generation is important to help minimize any future damage that the Adirondack Park may suffer from acid rain and climate change. However, there remain many concerns about negative impacts from some of those alternatives. In the case of wind generation, those concerns include both ecological effects and visual intrusion, particularly in a park setting. Energy conservation and efficiency, and reuse and recycling, are the surest ways to abate pollution problems.

The increased demand for wind energy development in New York State and within the Adirondack Park has been spurred, in part, by federal tax credits along with former Governor Pataki’s call for a retail renewable resource portfolio standard (RPS). The RPS calls for 24 percent of the State’s power to come from renewable sources by 2013.

We are adamantly opposed to the development of any towers on the Forest Preserve, including wind power turbines. Any proposal for towers on the Forest Preserve would be a violation of Article XIV of the State Constitution, the “Forever Wild” clause. We are also concerned with visual impacts of projects proposed on private lands that can be seen from Forest Preserve lands.

Although there are locations throughout the North Country where wind is sufficient to accommodate wind power generation, commercial wind facilities are also inappropriate on private lands within the Adirondack Park. Given the land use policies in the Adirondack Park Agency Act, the Adirondack Park Agency’s Policy on Agency Review of Proposals for New Telecommunications Towers and other Tall Structures in the Adirondack Park (APA’s Towers Policy), Adirondack Park Agency Rules and Regulations, the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan, the purposes for which the Park was created, and the Park’s critical importance to regional wildlife habitat integrity and connectivity, commercial wind tower facilities should not be permitted within the Blue Line.

We have learned from working on the re-licensing of hydro-electric facilities throughout the Park, that energy projects have significant adverse impacts on the environment. Ostensibly clean power, in the form of hydro-electric dams, has drastically altered the ecosystems of many of the Park’s main waterways and surrounding lands. Water bypasses, dams, turbines, and fluctuating impoundments have all harmed fish, amphibians, waterfowl and riverine habitat. An Act of Congress in the early 1990’s recognized the negative effects hydro-facilities have on the environment by requiring that natural resource and recreational impacts be considered and mitigated as much as possible when hydro-facilities are re-licensed. While some improvements have been made, once these facilities are in place, it is difficult to remove them.

Vistas and the Park’s other aesthetic resources should remain open and free from development and visual intrusion. This is essential to maintaining the wild character of the Park that generations of visitors and residents alike have cherished. Where development does occur, the visual impacts should be minimized and mitigated so as to make the development blend in with the surrounding landscape. Commercial wind towers, which can rise to over 400 feet and are equipped with Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) required blinking red lights, would have negative visual impacts and would not be easily integrated into their surroundings. It is unlikely that commercial wind facilities will be able to fulfill the mandate to be “substantially invisible” found in the APA’s Towers Policy.

We are even more concerned about the effect wind towers could have on wildlife, particularly resident and neotropical migratory bird species and bat species. The Adirondack Park contains the largest remaining habitat for some state and federally listed bird species, and many high altitude areas designated as Bird Conservation Areas could be optimal for wind generation. Construction of wind turbines in these areas would significantly and adversely affect bird habitat. Additional damage to the habitat and biota may also result from the construction of the infrastructure associated with wind towers, including roads and power lines and necessary clearing of the footprint to assemble the structures on site. Each tower needs at least one acre cleared for turbine and blade assembly. In addition, 300 tons or more of concrete are needed to build each foundation.

We are also concerned about the possible ringing of the Park by wind power facilities. Scores of giant wind turbines already pierce the sky above the eastern Tughill Plateau, and hundreds more are proposed for the St. Lawrence Valley just north of the Park. Thorough ecological studies and strict siting criteria must precede new development. Siting criteria should include those appended below.

We expect that individuals will pursue residential wind power generation in the Adirondack Park. These projects will be on a much smaller scale than a commercial wind tower. Thus, they will generally have less dramatic and intrusive impacts on the Park’s ecological, scenic and aesthetic resources. We anticipate fewer problems associated with these mini-tower projects, as long as they are kept out of ecologically critical or sensitive sites and meet the “substantial invisibility” criteria of the APA’s Towers Policy.

The Adirondack Park has already sacrificed some of its natural resources for clean power, through the many hydro-electric dams that impede its rivers. The Park’s natural hydrology has been vastly altered by these facilities. The Park has been producing renewable energy for generations. Instead of once again disrupting the Park’s environment for the installation of “new” energy sources, commercial wind power generation should be pursued in areas that can sustain its development without harming fragile ecosystems or the long-protected wild character of the Adirondack Park. While we would not advocate for any particular location, we recognize that the agricultural lands of New York’s great valleys have been identified as candidates for such development.

Inappropriate areas for commercial wind facilities:
• Designated Parks
• Roadless areas
• Original ecosystems, such as old-growth forests
• Wetlands
• Lands or waters with sensitive or imperiled species
• Wildlife corridors

wind power, wind energy, wind turbines, environment, environmentalism, animal rights

March 20, 2013

Wind industry fears real scrutiny

To the Editor, Valley News:

What is the real threat of Vermont Senate Bill 30 (Dori Wolfe: “Don't Reject Wind Energy in Vermont,” letter, March 17)? Now stripped of the 3-year moratorium provision, it only requires the Section 248 permitting process to abide by rather than merely consider Act 250 criteria.

It is ironic that business people like Wolfe, while in one breath urging us to save the environment by buying their products and services, in the next express alarm that environmental scrutiny “would severely damage the wind industry.”

But on the latter point she is right: These projects, especially on otherwise fiercely protected ridgelines, are not green. The environmental (not to mention financial) costs far outweigh the necessarily minuscule benefit from a diffuse, intermittent, and highly variable source.

To avoid that conclusion, Wolfe raises the specter of oil and gasoline, which fuel our cars, heat our homes, and power our factories but provide almost none of our electricity. In fact, more wind requires building more natural gas– and even diesel-powered plants just for backup. She notes that housecats kill more birds, as if that absolves the additional deaths caused by wind turbines, and disregards wind energy’s unique toll on raptors (eagles, owls, and the like) and bats, the latter already decimated by white nose syndrome.

Wolfe also touts the latest poll showing continuing support for industrial wind energy (ignoring the broad dissatisfaction everywhere they are actually erected or even proposed). If industrial wind is as popular as the polls indicate, then the greater local involvement enabled by Act 250 would be a boon, not a threat.

But S.30 would make it harder for developers to divide communities and to pit town against town, because Act 250 puts the region’s interests before those of industry lobbyists in Montpelier.

If industrial-scale wind (and solar) are indeed beneficial to the environment and communities, locally as well as globally, then its marketers have nothing to fear from a more democratic and environmentally rigorous permitting process. If they do indeed have reason to fear, that’s precisely why we need to say yes to S.30.

Eric Rosenbloom
Hartland

[Note:  The letter as reproduced here reflects minor editing by the author.]

[Click here to read about Jeff Wolfe's threats regarding S.30.]

wind power, wind energy, environment, environmentalism, human rights, Vermont

November 25, 2012

For Lou, from Miriam

Miriam Jones of VINE Sanctuary writes:

[Factory “farmers”] are honest enough to own their desires, and so they don’t have to create elaborate mental mazes to contain them. They want a paycheck – they want to grill something out in their backyards and it ain’t tofu – and they don’t give a shit about the environment or global climate change or sustainability.

They want what they want, and they’re honest about it. ...

While some of us recognize this destructive phenomenon for what it is, and seek to correct it, happy meat “farmers” deny they’re human supremacists. They like to say they honor and respect all of life while they trample upon it. Because they can’t bear to give up those tasty little morsels of flesh in their mouths – or because they can’t bear to find another job – these “farmers” talk a good talk about holding to a level of environmentalism that exceeds everyone else’s. They claim to love life on the one hand while they bring it to an end on the other. They profess that there exists such a thing as humane murder.

In short, they’re liars. They lie to themselves and they lie to everyone else. ...

Factory “farmers” tend to be more honest about their motivations for doing the things they do than happy meat “farmers,” even though they all do the same thing: use and murder animals.

Because they are lying to themselves, these small producers need to include you in that same lie. They need you to believe that you’re doing something good. You are righteous, you are smart, you are helping the environment. You are better than those (poor, unethical, working class) people who eat factory farmed flesh. You are actively helping the planet by eating flesh, eggs and milk from small-scale animal “production.”

They tell you these things and they need you to believe them. But they are lies.

Click here to read the complete essay.
Click here to read “For Lou, from pattrice”


Lou, who never knew how it feels to be free
Lou, who never knew how it feels to be free

environment, environmentalism, animal rights, vegetarianism, Vermont, anarchism, ecoanarchism

August 1, 2012

USDA advocates, then denounces, vegetarian diet

As Mark Bittman reports in the New York Times, an internal newsletter at the USDA (“Greening Headquarters Update”, July 23, 2012) promoted not only “meatless Mondays” but even vegetarianism:
One simple way to reduce your environmental impact while dining at our cafeterias is to participate in the “Meatless Monday” initiative http://www.meatlessmonday.com/. This international effort, as the name implies, encourages people not to eat meat on Mondays. Meatless Monday is an initiative of The Monday Campaign Inc. in association with the John Hopkins School of Public Health.

How will going meatless one day of the week help the environment? The production of meat, especially beef (and dairy as well), has a large environmental impact. According to the U.N., animal agriculture is a major source of greenhouse gases and climate change. It also wastes resources. It takes 7,000 kg of grain to make 1,000 kg of beef. In addition, beef production requires a lot of water, fertilizer, fossil fuels, and pesticides. In addition there are many health concerns related to the excessive consumption of meat. While a vegetarian diet could have a beneficial impact on a person’s health and the environment, many people are not ready to make that commitment. Because Meatless Monday involves only one day a week, it is a small change that could produce big results.
Cowed by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, the USDA has renounced those facts and suppressed the newsletter. The NCBA complained that the USDA “does not understand the efforts being made in rural America to produce food and fiber for a growing global population in a very sustainable way”. Bittman notes
that meat is not fiber, that its industrial-style production is not sustainable by any normal definition, and that “agriculture” produces the food “Meatless Monday” advocates eat, too.
The only possible good that might come of the USDA's brief airing of the truth, if not their subsequent caving to corporatist pressure, is that reactionaries like Senator Charles Grassley and Representative Steve King, both of Iowa, have promised to hasten their own demises by doubling down on their corpse consumption every Monday.

environment, environmentalism, human rights, animal rights, vegetarianism, anarchism, ecoanarchism

July 7, 2012

Low Benefit — Huge Negative Impact

Industrial wind promoters claim their machines produce on average 30–40% of their rated capacity. For example, a 400-ft-high 2-megawatt (2,000-kilowatt) turbine assembly would produce an average of 600–800 kilowatts over a year.

The actual experience of industrial wind power in the U.S., however, as reported to the federal Energy Information Agency, is that it produces at only about 25% of its capacity, or 500 kilowatts.

It will produce at or above that average rate only two-fifths (40%) of the time. It will generate nothing at all (yet draw power from the grid) a third of the time.

Because the output is highly variable and rarely correlates with demand, other sources of energy cannot be taken off line. With the extra burden of balancing the wind energy, those sources may even use more fuel (just as cars use more gas in stop-and-go city driving than in more steady highway driving).

The industry is unable to show any evidence that wind power on the grid reduces the use of other fuels.

Denmark, despite claims that wind turbines produce 20% of its electricity, has not reduced its use of other fuels because of them.

Large-scale wind power does not reduce our dependence on other fuels, does not stabilize prices, does not reduce emissions or pollution, and does not mitigate global warming.

Instead, each turbine assembly requires dozens of acres of clearance and dominates the typically rural or wild landscape where it is sited. Its extreme height, turning rotor blades, unavoidable noise and vibration, and strobe lighting night and day ensure an intrusiveness far out of proportion to its elusive contribution.

Each facility requires new transmission infrastructure and new or upgraded (strengthened, widened, and straightened) roads, further degrading the environment and fragmenting habitats.

Why do utilities support them?

Given a choice, most utilities choose to avoid such an unreliable nondispatchable source. In many states, they are required to get a certain percentage of their energy from renewable sources. In other states, they anticipate being required to do so in the near future. These requirements do not require utilities to show any benefit (e.g., in terms of emissions) from using renewables—they just need to have them on line.

In Japan, many utilities limit the amount of wind power that they will accept. In Germany, the grid managers frequently shut down the wind turbines to keep the system stable. In Denmark, most of the energy from wind turbines has to be shunted to pumped hydro facilities in Norway and Sweden.

Yet wind energy is profitable. Taxpayers cover two-thirds to three-fourths of the cost of erecting giant wind turbines. Governments require utilities to buy the energy, even though it does not effectively displace other sources.

In addition, wind companies can sell “renewable energy credits,” or “green tags,” an invention of Enron. They are thus able to sell the same energy twice.

The companies generally cut the local utilities in on some of the easy profits.

Why do communities support them?

Developers typically target poor commu­nities and make deals with individual landowners and the town boards (which are very often the same people) long before anything is made public.

With the prospect of adding substantially to the tax rolls and/or hundreds of thousands of dollars in payoffs each year, it is understandable that a lot of people are reluctant to consider the negative impacts. They are willing to ignore the effects of such large machines on themselves and their neighbors. Excited by the financial promises of the wind companies, they forget that their giant machines will destroy precisely what makes their community livable.

As people find out more, support for this harmful boondoggle evaporates.

—from “SAY NO! to destroying the environment and our communities”, brochure by National Wind Watch

wind power, wind energy, wind turbines, wind farms, environment, environmentalism, human rights, animal rights, Vermont

August 23, 2010

Gubernatorial misconceptions regarding wind

On July 27, the Burlington Free Press printed replies on Vermont's energy future from the five Democratic (primary) and one Republican candidate for governor. Here are their statements regarding wind, with commentary following in italics. Dunne and Bartlett did not mention wind.

Dubie: Last November, Bolton Valley became the nation's second ski area, and Vermont's first, to install its own wind turbine -- a 121-foot-tall Northwind 100, manufactured by Vermonters at Northern Power in Barre. It will produce 300,000 kw annually.

As of 10:11 a.m., August 23, 2010, the Bolton Valley wind turbine had produced 125,809 kWh since October 2009. So, apart from confusing kilowatts (rate of production) with kilowatt-hours (energy produced), Dubie is basing his claim on a projection that almost one year later can be shown to be wrong. In its first year of operation, the Bolton Valley wind turbine is likely to produce less than half of the energy predicted (yet still claimed).

Racine: There are locations throughout the northeast that make sense for solar, wind, biomass, and hydro, and if we take a regional approach, we can site these power sources with the least impact possible.

This assumes that these projects must be built. As for wind, its poor production of almost no value to the grid does not justify its erection anywhere. The least impact possible is to forget about it.

Markowitz: I am a strong supporter of community wind projects, hydropower, solar, biomass and geothermal energy production. As governor, I will review our regulatory process to ensure that renewable energy projects get a fair hearing and fast results.

Since energy projects are developed by well capitalized corporations and inordinately affect host communities and environments, the concern should be that those who are adversely affected or who advocate for the environment are able to get a fair hearing.

Shumlin: To meet our electricity needs we will need power delivered from small community-based solar projects to utility scale wind farms and everything in between. As outlined in a Vision for Vermont, I will work with the Treasurer's office to leverage the state's ability to borrow money at affordable rates and issue a series of Vermont renewable energy bonds so that every Vermonter who wants to can literally invest in our energy future. The revenue generated through these projects, guaranteed through electricity sales to the utilities, will help pay the bonds off.

The "everything is needed" approach as presented by Shumlin lacks any sign of rational evaluation of costs and benefits. The only people who would benefit from this circular funding model are the manufacturers and installers — it is a job creation program, but without regard to its effect on the environment and hosting communities, or to its actual contributions to a reliable electricity supply.

wind power, wind energy, environment, environmentalism, human rights, Vermont

July 22, 2009

Missing the point about wind energy development

Bradford Plumer writes in The New Republic's environment and energy blog about the action in North Carolina to ban structures taller than 100 feet from the state's mountaintops, which would effectively ban industrial wind energy turbines. His analysis consists only of showing a picture of mountaintop-removal coal mining and asking whether in comparison wind turbines can still be called "unsightly".

If mountaintop-removal is the issue, then the blog should ask why it is allowed.

If coal in general is the issue, then the blog should ask just how much coal would be saved by adding wind turbines to the grid. (The answer is: none.)

Having learned that wind energy does not reduce coal use, then the blog should ask if industrial wind's own adverse environmental impacts, including not just aesthetic but also on birds, bats, hydrology, and wildlife habitat, can be justified by other benefits. (The answer is: hardly. Wind is a highly variable, intermittent, and diffuse resource that only adds to the grid's burden of supplying steady energy in response to demand.)

Instead, the false and unexamined premise that wind turbines on the grid provide substantial useful energy, leading to the next false and unexamined premise that nondispatchable, unpredictable, and variable wind energy displaces coal -- generally a baseload supplier (wind preferentially displaces first hydro, second open-cycle natural gas [at a loss of efficiency]), leads to Plumer simply ignoring the actual debate about industrial wind energy development on the wild mountains of North Carolina.

What is gained and what is lost? Very little, if anything, is gained, and very much is lost. That is not to deny the horrors of mountaintop-removal mining or the pollution from coal burning. Those are irrelevant to the debate about wind. Adding industrial wind development will not reduce them in the least. Wind only adds a new insult to the environment.

So to Plumer's challenge, "There's nothing wrong with finding wind turbines unsightly, but the relevant question here is: Compared to what?"

Compared to a wild mountaintop teeming with flora and fauna -- without heavy-duty cut-and-filled roads, blasted-in turbine platforms, 400-ft-high machines grinding around day or night, flashing lights, acres of tree clearance, miles of new transmission lines, substations, etc. Duh.

wind power, wind energy, environment, environmentalism, animal rights, human rights

January 23, 2009

It's not destruction if it's "green"?

Robert Redford writes at Huffington Post ("Utah Lands Win a Reprieve at the Dawn of a Cleaner, Greener Future") that "a federal court acted last weekend to protect more than 110,000 acres of stunning Utah wilderness that otherwise would have been sold by the outgoing Bush administration to the dirty fuels industry."

He says that "What inspired me most was when Judge Urbina wrote that the 'development of domestic energy resources ... is far outweighed by the public interest in avoiding irreparable damage to public lands and the environment.' Finally, the greater good has prevailed over the profit of the few."

Then it starts to fall apart:
Destroying our natural heritage will do nothing to solve our energy challenges for the long-term, which to me, is even more reason to act. I will continue to keep a vigilant watch over these lands, while working to build a cleaner, greener energy foundation for America. With endless untapped reserves of efficiency, solar, and wind power, we do not need to choose between affordable electricity and one-of-a-kind landscapes. We can have both.
Because meanwhile, the Bureau of Land Management plans to establish coordination offices to expedite the permitting of renewable energy projects and associated transmission facilities on BLM-managed lands. The Energy Policy Act of 2005 calls for the development of 10,000 MW of non-hydropower renewable energy projects on public lands by 2015.

How did Mr. Redford think those reserves of wind and solar would be tapped to a degree that would do something that might appear "to solve our energy challenges for the long-term"? How much of our natural heritage is he ready to see destroyed for large-scale solar and wind power development?

(10,000 MW of installed wind capacity requires at least 500,000 acres, or almost 800 square miles, plus heavy-duty roads (opening the land to more development and its flora and fauna to more abuse) and transmission infrastructure). 10,000 MW of actual production -- on average (wind turbines actually produce at or above their average rate, which is 20-30% of their installed capacity, only 40% of the time) -- would require 4 times that amount of land, to produce nominally only about 2% of the country's electricity, which 40,000 MW of wind would be nullified by 1 year of average growth in demand. Obviously, big wind is a dead end that could easily be obviated by the less photographically iconic options of efficiency and conservation.)

"The development of domestic energy resources ... is far outweighed by the public interest in avoiding irreparable damage to public lands and the environment."

wind power, wind energy, wind turbines, wind farms, environment, environmentalism, human rights, animal rights

October 8, 2007

NO industrial wind turbines in Vermont's Northeast Kingdom

Make sure the organizations listed below understand that they need to stand against industrial wind energy development in the Northeast Kingdom to protect the beauty and character of the area.

From "Vermont's Northeast Kingdom", National Geographic Geotourism Map Guide:

Also see travelthekingdom.com/geotourism.

Geotourism Travelers' Tips:

1. What is geotourism?

The formal definition is, "Tourism that sustains or enhances the geographical character of the place being visited -- its environment, culture, aesthetics, heritage, and the well-being of its residents." In other words, travel for people who like distinctive places and care about protecting them.

2. Who are geotravelers?

... they support local businesses and travel organizations that care about conservation, preservation, beautification, and benefits to local people.

3. How can I be a good geotraveler in the Northeast Kingdom?

The Kingdom got its name from its natural beauty. Residents are determined to retain that beauty. ...

9. What should I do, and not do, if I want to buy property or build a home in the Kingdom?

The Geotourism Alliance is committed to preserving sense of place in the Kingdom. If you decide to purchase a home or move to the area, please consider local values and the effect you and your house have on the landscape, culture, environment, and communities. ...

[Who makes up the Geotourism Alliance?]

National Geographic
Northeast Kingdom Travel and Tourism Association
Nulhegan Gateway Association
University of Vermont Tourism Data Center
Cabot Creamery
Connecticut River Byway
Fairbanks Museum and Planetarium
Kingdom Trails Association
Northeastern Vermont Development Association
Northeast Kingdom Collaborative
Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont
The Northern Forest Canoe Trail
NorthWoods Stewardship Center
Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge
USDA Rural Development
Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife
Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing
Vermont Fresh Network
Vermont Maple Foundation
Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund
Vermont WoodNet

wind power, wind energy, wind farms, wind turbines, environment, environmentalism, human rights, animal rights, Vermont