Has it only been a couple of years since environmental groups wrestled states and public utilities into making commitments to significant boosts in renewable power?
When notoriously conservative utilities said yes, it was largely because their experts were telling them that wind-energy was becoming viable and cost-competitive. Now, the environmental community is very excited about wind power projects — excited about killing them off, I mean.
From Anne Applebaum's column in Wednesday's Washington Post:
Already, activists and real estate developers have stalled projects across Pennsylvania, West Virginia and New York. In Western Maryland, a proposal to build wind turbines alongside a coal mine, on a heavily logged mountaintop next to a transmission line, has just been nixed by state officials who called it too environmentally damaging. Along the coast of Nantucket, Mass. — the only sufficiently shallow spot on the New England coast — a coalition of anti-wind groups and summer homeowners, among them the Kennedy family, also seems set to block Cape Wind, a planned offshore wind farm. Their well-funded lobbying last month won them the attentions of Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska), who, though normally an advocate of a state's right to its own resources, has made an exception for Massachusetts and helped pass an amendment designed to kill the project altogether.
The brand-name environmental groups seem fearful of taking on well-funded local anti-wind energy organizations that are systematically destroying the potential of an energy source that is the very definition of renewable. The environmental community needs to change course. Their credibility is at stake. The environmental community earned its way to the adults' table in making energy policy, but there's still a high-chair open at the baby table; and that's where they're headed if this nonsense doesn't stop.
Capturing energy from renewable sources will be land-intensive. There are a limited number of suitable areas. Wind power needs to be harvested where it's windy. Solar power needs access to the sun. Geothermal power is here and there, but not everywhere. To secure and distribute enough of this energy to replace fossil fuels at the percentages contemplated in Renewable Portfolio Standards will require building structures that most would deem less attractive than, say, a rustic old bridge or a weeping willow tree.
But if you want to seriously tackle the oil economy and make a dent in global warming — get over it, and let them build windmills.