Clever Kennedy con Kills Energy Alternative

Savvy insiders know that if you want to kill a project, you first call for a study. In the risk-averse world of regulation, a study will always find a hazard to frighten the timorous and incite the litigators In order to kill the Cape Cod wind farm near his home, Kennedy (and others) inserted a harmless looking study into the 2006 Defense Authorization Bill. It has now come around to smash wind farms all over the U.S.

Midwestern windfarmers already received "proposed hazard" letters from the FAA saying that they must halt work pending the results of this study.

This is how we stop progress. There are lots of potential problems with anything. Lawsuits are already being filed to stop wind farms because they may kills bats (I thought bats were supposed to be able to navigate so well with their radar) or birds. One more entrepreneurial lawyer filed a suit alleging the moving shadow might give people who watched them too long motion sickness.

It is good we started to use electricity a while ago. You know that in today precautionary and litigious climate, we could never approve it. Think of the dangers. Who knows what could happen?

So I guess we will go with the safe and sure oil and gas. Maybe we can denude Alberta of its tar sands to supply what we need. Obviously the wind is just too risky a proposition for us timid, precautionary and selfish people. Or what this really will do is drive out small operators or those not politically connected. A big firm can hire lawyers to deal the regulations and wait. A farmer who hoped to make a couple thousand dollars replacing a small amount of fossil fuels is out of luck.

This is how regulations work, friends. They seem harmless. But in the end they protect the status quo and crush the small innovators. I guess we should have just let Kennedy kill that Cape Cod project and protect the view his family pays so much to get. We should not have forced him to take the whole thing down.

Maybe not. Wind energy makes sense. Let’ do it and do to Kennedy what he has done to so many others.


Posted by Jack at June 10, 2006 1:04 PM
Comments
Comment #156283

Jack, I don’t think you understand the enviromental and economic impact of healthy bat and bird populations. They are vital to agriculture and human comfort. Bats keep mosquito populations in check and other damaging insects to crops. Most birds as well are farmer’s best friends.

If wind generators are a potential threat to bird populations then a study should be done to measure the impact to see if it will be significant. And if it is, then some other measure must be researched to insure their protection. This is the hard part of altering environments. Doing so without creating more problems than you solve is only the course to take and that requires extra expense, time, and study to get it right BEFORE you screw everything up and make twice the amount of problem you just fixed.

Posted by: David R. Remer at June 10, 2006 1:59 PM
Comment #156288

David

I understand that the bird and bat issue is mostly a red herring. Windmills are operating all over the place.. Some bird and bats die, but not that many and I suppose after a while they will learn what not to do. I also agree that we should always study and improve. But there is also a cost to waiting. Each day we don’t do these things is a day where we burn more coal.

You also know that the bird and bat lovers will not be satisifed if even a few are killed. They will find a locally rare species and claim it will be wiped out and we will be in the courts for many years.

Any method of producing energy carries cost. Wind is one of the most environmentally benign. We don’t get a zero option.

Posted by: Jack at June 10, 2006 2:52 PM
Comment #156290

Jack:

When they started building those Dams in the Northwest, were you one of the people who thought the migrating fish population would be safe?

You were, weren’t you? No doubt its your contention that fish stocks are not falling and its all a natural occurance.

Posted by: Aldous at June 10, 2006 3:09 PM
Comment #156296

Jack, the bigger the capital investment, the greater the need to insure it is right the first time. A couple trillion have been wasted by our government precisely for allocating the funds first and building and doing the research afterward.

Do New Orleans Levees ring a bell? It is almost always cheaper to do it right the first time - ESPECIALLY when the government is involved.

Posted by: David R. Remer at June 10, 2006 3:39 PM
Comment #156297

Jack,

It just makes no sense does it?

We are told we must turn to alternative energy because Big Oil is destroying the planet, but given the option to do so we are then told that there are even more mitigating factors to overcome.

On another level it just highlights the complete hypocrisy of democrats like the Kennedys.

Posted by: esimonson at June 10, 2006 3:48 PM
Comment #156299

Aldous

We are always talking about alternatives. That is what I keep on saying and what so many people refuse to understand. The alternative to wind power is not nothing. It is oil, coal, nuclear etc. Which do you prefer?

Some birds and bats will die. Existing wind power is not destroying their populations. The populations of hawks, eagles and other big birds like these are strong and growing. Nature tends to be profligate.

It is interesting that so many people do not want solutions to global warming. They prefer the issue. They talk about how bad Bush is for not signing onto Kyoto. The news you have to understand is that signing papers doesn’t create energy.

Wind is probably the most benign form of energy generation possible. If you reject wind power, you are rejecting all solutions.

It is really ironic that I am arguming FOR wind power against people who claim to be liberals. It just confirms my belief that liberals talk about solutions and conservatives find them. I would add a corollary. After conservatives provide solutions, liberals say they could have done better.

I have worked for a cleaner environment all my life. Not talked, done. Whenever I get onto this issue, all I get is complaining from people who CLAIM to be concerned about it.

David

The New Orleans levies were studied to death. Anybody who watches Discovery Channel knew they were no good. It was an example of big government failure. It did the wrong thing AND it did it wrong.

Wind power is small scale and not capital intensive. All the government needs to is allow people to experiment and risk their own money. In fact, I am sure that is one reason a fat cat rich liberal like Kennedy is against it. It is not centrally controlled. It will help free people from his big government regulations and control.

Posted by: Jack at June 10, 2006 4:35 PM
Comment #156303

No esimonson, what it does is highlight the difficulty many Republicans have in grasping and dealing with complex situations and managing them.

Energy is a highly complex subject, like Iraq. So its no wonder the current government is having such trouble. If it can’t be broke down to black or white, this OR that, many Republicans and followers on the right can’t grasp it. The left has its share too! But, they ain’t calling the shots. Your guys are.

Posted by: David R. Remer at June 10, 2006 4:37 PM
Comment #156315

Is Kennedy’s hypocrisy different from Delay’s, Frist’s, Hastert’s, or Bush’s? Seems pretty much the same to me.

Posted by: gergle at June 10, 2006 5:27 PM
Comment #156317

David

You’re absolutely right. Environmental engineers have stated that the levees in NO should never have been built and that by preventing little floods they contributed to the massive flooding we witnessed last year.

Posted by: Keith at June 10, 2006 5:35 PM
Comment #156318

David R.

Your concern for the health and welfare of birds and bats is admirable.

But, I’m curious. What if, hypothetically speaking of course, Senator Frist had slipped such a provision into the Defense Authorization Bill?

I wonder what your response would have looked like?

Would your love of birds and bats have been expressed so eloquently?

Posted by: ulysses at June 10, 2006 5:39 PM
Comment #156347

Gergle

The Kennedy connection is just my hook. Republicans were involved too. The real problem is the method of regulating something to death. Even something that everyone agrees is a good thing, is easily squashed by study and regulation.

My other point is the shortsightedness of those who cry loudest about the environment. They stream that Bush didn’t agree to Kyoto (Clinton never did either BTW), but they forget Kyoto meant some changes. When things LIKE Kyoto, such as higher prices or wind come on, they don’t want them. That is real pernicious hypocrisy.

Posted by: Jack at June 10, 2006 8:06 PM
Comment #156348

Thanks for akcnowledging your attacks on Kennedy were specious.

I know you’ll dispute it, that’s my hook.

Truthiness is fun.

Posted by: gergle at June 10, 2006 8:10 PM
Comment #156349

My attack on Kennedy was justified. He is the worst offender. But I could as easily picked on lots of other people. Kennedy is a big target, however.

But I don’t want to lose the point. We have to be very careful not to let regulations and powerful policial interests destroy a good prospect for our future energy portfolio.

The other story is that liberals can be very bad for the environment, even though they talk a good game. Even WHILE they are talking a good game.

Posted by: Jack at June 10, 2006 8:18 PM
Comment #156350

Ulysses, exactly the same, birds and bats are vital to agriculture, and in case you hadn’t noticed, agriculture is one of the few export industries our economy still has left. Think Ulysses, yes, I care about birds and bats, as a Buddhist, many of them are my cousins. But, as an American, its the economic benefit of birds and bats we need to be especially careful of.

Posted by: David R. Remer at June 10, 2006 8:19 PM
Comment #156351

Jack said: “Wind power is small scale and not capital intensive. “

I don’t think you researched the matter before making that abrutly incorrect statement. Harnessing wind power is very capital intensive. First there is the land, then the turbines, then the wiring (priced copper recently), and storage equipment and then the conversion and grid hook ups. What wind power isn’t is labor intensive.

Posted by: David R. Remer at June 10, 2006 8:22 PM
Comment #156352

Jack said: “The other story is that liberals can be very bad for the environment, even though they talk a good game. Even WHILE they are talking a good game.”

Finally, Jack, you said something I can agree with wholeheartedly in this thread. Liberals are all for the energy pork for their consitutents just like Republicans. No question about that. The record is in black and white.

Posted by: David R. Remer at June 10, 2006 8:24 PM
Comment #156357

David

The wind power will not kill off many birds or bats. Existing wind power generation has not. I suppose it depends on what you consider an acceptable attrition rate. That number is somewhere above zero and less than 100%. If you drive down the road, you see lots of dead possums, skunks and raccoons. Even deer are becoming common roadkill. I bet where you live you get armadillos. We have many miles of road. We are not running out of any of these varmints. I even TRY to run over woodchucks and there are still lot of them around.

Most wildlife populations are controlled by the presence of food and shelter. Fewer bats and bird will have more of those bugs to eat and have more successful offspring. Lots of them die each year w/o causing the population any harm at all. It may be a good thing.

If we allow experimentation, we may impact some local animal populations, but it is unlikely to be anything serious.

Posted by: Jack at June 10, 2006 8:32 PM
Comment #156359

David

Wind power is scalable. If you have a reasonably windy location, you can buy your own windpower. We have to rebuild the grid, but that is a more general infrastructure decision.

If we do larger wind farms, I expect we should study the local birds and bats. I would not build a big windfarm on a flyway, but a small turbine would not be so bad.

Posted by: Jack at June 10, 2006 8:40 PM
Comment #156370

Jack, you are probably right. But if we are talking large wind farms, I reiterate, it is best to study first, spend after, not the other way around as Congress is often want to do.

Now as for coastal wind farms, I don’t think there will be much of an impact on bird populations as they can self-regulate as you say in stable environments like coastal regions.

Interior large wind farms on the other hand, could be a very different matter especially in the corn and wheat belts where the environment is more prone to disruption by fires, tornadoes, droughts, and pests, as well as breeding habitat limitations.

As you and I both know, enviromental catastrophe’s of man’s making are often a result of human change factors in concert with natural ones. No one of which would have done much harm, but the combination of which, creates greater losses than the economic gains from the enviromental changes in the first place. The Great Lakes were/are a perfect example. Take the Chicago water contamination that killed residents due to their placing the waste duct too close to the shore catching the parallel shoreline currents and carrying the effluent straight down to the fresh water intakes. Had they done a study with dye of the coastal currents BEFORE establishing the distance from shore for the effluent discharge, millions of dollars and dozens of lives would have been saved.

Posted by: David R. Remer at June 10, 2006 9:15 PM
Comment #156379

David R.

Sorry. If I had known you were Buddhist, I would have rephrased the question.

But my point is that if a Republican had sneaked this study into legislation in an effort to sabotage wind power farms, I don’t think you’re response would hve been the same.

Posted by: ulysses at June 10, 2006 10:14 PM
Comment #156389

David

I am not advocating that congress spend a dime on wind power. There are plenty of people who are willing to risk their own money. If they choose well, they will do well. Otherwise they lose their money and we all learn the lesson.

Posted by: Jack at June 10, 2006 11:01 PM
Comment #156410


Jack: How many of the republicans voted for the harmless looking amendment that was so artfully slipped into the republican led Senate bill.

Posted by: jlw at June 11, 2006 12:54 AM
Comment #156431

Ulysses, that’s because you assume I am a Democrat or liberal as you assumed I was not a Buddhist. I am liberal on social issues by and large, and conservative on fiscal and foreign policy issues. Note that I used the words liberal and conservative, not Democrat and Republican. There is one helluva a huge difference.

Fact is both parties have engaged in this bullshit of slipping items into bills at the last moment in the hopes no one will notice. It is a practice that has soundly turned me into an anti-Democrat, anti-Republican, anti-incumbent voter and cause champion.

Posted by: David R. Remer at June 11, 2006 4:15 AM
Comment #156432

Jack said: “I am not advocating that congress spend a dime on wind power.”

Your Republican Congress persons are! More tax dollar transfers to the wealthy energy industry is exactly what they are proposing in the form of alternative energy incentives and subsidies. Which makes them indistinguishable from Democrats on this issue.

Also, you are not addressing the economics issue. Is the price of electricity production high enough now to provide market incentive for private industry to develop and invest in wind energy? I was under the impression we were still not even close. Is the cost of clean coal fired electricity production high enough to offer private industry incentives? I hear folks talk about unlimited supplies of domestic coal just the way they did about oil 10 years ago.

Posted by: David R. Remer at June 11, 2006 4:24 AM
Comment #156439

I’d be interested to know why this was done. But while we’re roasting Kennedy over the open fire on this, might we ask Cheney about who consulted on America’s energy policy, or the Republican majority members in both houses about their support for the big oil companies? Let’s not do this piecemeal and partisan, with one Democrat’s misguided votes given all the attention.

All too much, the strategy of Republicans has been to accuse Democrats (rightfully or not) of sharing a weakness, and then using that to distract from their own weakness. While this might resemble a certain kind of justice, and hypocrisy is of course undesireable (especially from my end of things), the weakness in the GOP that these charges distract from are still there, and still do their harm.

The protectiveness of the GOP for its own has allowed it to artificially extend its reign, but this has come at the price of debasing the party’s morality, even as regards its own principles, and of alienating folks from the party, which they view as being unwilling to fulfill its responsiblities.

I feel the Republican party would be healthier, were its voters to encourage their candidates to believe that their screw-ups and corruption would not be tolerated. Unfortunately, many Republicans are more worried about Democrats screwing it up, that they are about their own party doing the honors.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at June 11, 2006 7:22 AM
Comment #156484

jwl

Republicans were also involved. As I told Gergle, I pick on Kennedy because he is such a big and fun target.

My actual point is how regulations can be used to kill innovation and how it doesn’t matter what politcians say they believe, they will use regulation to protect the status quo. Dems do too.

David

Pork is part of government. That is why we need smaller government overall and why we citizens should ask for less from the Feds.

Re incentives, no matter what the theory of prices, the fact is many people are already investing in wind power and thousands of investors are applying for permits, which they ARE NOT getting because of this regulation. I am not asking to save the world in one shot, but just opening the gate would help. And all those talking about alternatives should advocated this simple step.

Stephen

As I said to David, just open this gate, take down this barrier.

There is the danger that we will go with the easy alternatives (which are still oil & gas).

Posted by: Jack at June 11, 2006 11:22 AM
Comment #156566

Jack,

I am surprised at your advocacy of wind power. Even today, it is well documented that wind power, capital intensive as it is, and which David Remer commented on already, cannot be put into operation without serious subsidies by local, state or Federal governments.
Wind power, in my opinion, is attractive only and mostly in theory, because it is a clean source of energy. But at the same time that energy source is frequently unpredictable as well as variable. The latter two aspects are not unimportant when creating a reliable energy source.
Finally, while I am all in favor of clean energy, wind farms, which you can see in various parts of the country are among the most ugly, hideous creations of mankind. It is even more galling that when you see these forests of hundreds of windmills that at least a third of them, sometimes more, aren’t working at all.
I’ll stick with nuclear, oil and clean coal of which we have hundreds of years of supplies. After that hydrogen, may be.?

Posted by: fred at June 11, 2006 3:57 PM
Comment #156593

Fred

Windpower will never make up the largest part of our energy portfolio, but it deserves to be part of the mix, expecially in places where it works well. I have been through N. Dakota. It is very windy in some places and there is not a lot out there. It seems like a really good idea to have wind farms in a place like that. In very sunny places you might have solar.

We will rely on nuclear power for most of our non CO2 energy. We have a small nuke contribution of only around 20%. The French manage nearly 80% of their electricity.

The point of this article is to show how regulation kills innovation even in something politicans and liberal pressure groups claim to love.

Posted by: Jack at June 11, 2006 5:29 PM
Comment #156599

To my fellow liberals and environmentalists. No one should defend the Kennedy’s regarding the wind project off of Cape Cod. It smacks of NIMBY elitism if there ever was one.

To Jack, picking on Kennedy’s hypocrisy instead of supposed conservative Republicans who voted for said amendment means what exactly? Shouldn’t you be more outraged over conservatives voting for more regulation in order to prevent environmental and energy solutions?

Posted by: Chris2x at June 11, 2006 5:56 PM
Comment #156608

Jack,
Thanks for your response.
I basically agree with you. Regulation does a job on innovation. No question. And indeed, in some out of the way places wind farming may well be inoffensive and worth the effort. My point was, that among the options at our disposal, we have wasted decades getting our nuclear power grid operational, like the French. I’m not a francophile but they did that one right. According to my information, clean coal technology has made, and is still making great strides to provide us with enormous amounts of basic energy, via powerplants for a very long time. That will wean most powerplants off oil based supplies over a period of time and leave transportation, freight and private vehicles as the primary users of oil based fuels. Heating and cooling homes and buildings will probably become more electricity driven, like it is already in Florida for instance.
Basically, having been trained in engineering, albeit 60 years ago, I have great confidence that we should rely more on private industry to solve these issues economically than rushing to Washington for help and money. It seems unfair to even expect them to be able to help in an intelligent manner. Maybe better if they are told, through the ballot box, to stay out of our way because we can really solve most problems better and cheaper without them as long as they don’t try to “regulate”. They should worry about defense and foreign relations. Any problem with that?

Posted by: fred at June 11, 2006 6:19 PM
Comment #156673

Jack,

The news you have to understand is that signing papers doesn’t create energy.

I’ll bet that even GW, while signing papers, actually create mechanical energy by moving his hand and fingers.
Otherwise, please someone should offer GW a self-winding wristwatch now, so he can start producing himself energy as soon as possible!

Posted by: Philippe Houdoin at June 12, 2006 9:20 AM
Comment #156676

(Back to topic…)

It’s great talking about new/alternative energy sources, but what about reducing also our energy *addiction* ?
Not only do we (the World, US are not alone doing it) consume energy in a ever and ever increased amount, but a part of it is plain wasted.
Why does cities streetlights are on 24/24!?!
Can’t we promote more efficient stand-by mode in all our energy drunk gadgets? Does someone have checked recently if the light still goes off when his frig’s door close?! ;-)

So; Is there a plan in US to lead the world on his detox from energy?

Posted by: Philippe Houdoin at June 12, 2006 9:55 AM
Comment #156685

I want all the nuke fans out there to raise their hand and tell me how close you live to a plant? I live within 10 miles of one and getting the calendar with instructions on “what to do if” is pretty horrifying.Getting Iodine pills at the local pharmacy…collecting baby teeth to check levels of exposure AND Also reading in the paper that levels of radiation collected at the ELEMENTARY SCHOOL are a little high but “acceptable” would make me to a quick study on wind and push it though if at all possible. I’d create a bird/bat sanctuary in my back yard to make up for the loss! So until you live in the shadow of one of these things - I don’t want to hear from you.
I have to agree with the people that are talking about wind on a small scale. A farmer with a couple of these things or someone with one on their hill top property is great. That is how we’re going to solve our problems. Everyone doing their little part is what will make this happen, not having a giant wind farms where the coal mines use to be (so to speak). We need to change the Big business OR Big government will fix this mentality. Many small solutions are the only workable answer.
And for those bashing Kennedy - yeah he can be a schmoe just like any other politician. But living in an economically depressed area of MA I’d rather have him than a republican any day of the week. I need to feed/clothe/educate my kids NOW not in 10 years when the market for “x” or the economy at large improves.

Posted by: kp at June 12, 2006 10:38 AM
Comment #156686

Aldous —

If you would do a little research — no, make that some deep research — you would find that the migratory fish populations in the northwest are being depleted by our Native American population that, in the name of feeding themselves, remove all the fish they possibly can from the rivers and then sell them to the White folks. Then they demand that the White folks foot the bill for restocking their fished out rivers.

Posted by: Ray at June 12, 2006 10:43 AM
Comment #156700

Jack,

Thank you. You have opened my conservative eyes to new trends and needs.

Posted by: George Van Valkenburg at June 12, 2006 12:00 PM
Comment #156804

Philippe,
In my view you are right when you say that there is a lot of energy wasted. Just like a lot of water is wasted in California, primarily in the agri-business.
In both instances, energy like electricity, fuel for cars, water in California and probably some other places, the most economical and reliable method of curbing these excesses, in my experience is raising the price of the commodity to a level where the user realizes he is literally throwing his money away. For instance, do you always switch off the lights when you leave the room or the water in case you wash the car and are busy brushing it with soap, or something similar. If you do you are probably among the 1% of us who do that admirable thing. But most of us think that electricity doesn’t really cost all that much and in California and in Nevada, in the desert, (Las Vegas!!!) they really know how to waste the stuff, which BTW is all subsidized.
So let’s raise the price of the stuff over a period of time until everybody starts to scream but appreciates the fact that somebody is paying for their profligate habits. It seems to me that sometimes we appear to approach these things like juveniles instead of like grown-ups.
So I am very much in favor of your suggestion to curb the stuff by getting people who use it where it hurts, in their pocket books.

Posted by: fred at June 12, 2006 3:42 PM
Comment #156856

kp,
Who was there first, you or the Nuke plant? If it was you, then you have my sympathy for the agitation and problems you are undergoing. If the plant was there first, as often happens, and neighborhoods spring up around it, then no one in that neighborhood should complain about the plant.

We really should be discussing new alternatives for fueling our daily lives. The new design for nuclear plants is supposed to be far beyond anything ever seen in safety. However, the fear of Chernobyl and Three Mile Island will likely keep these safe new plants from ever being built.

So, now we have to implement energy ideas that have either unproven capabilities or have unfriendly opponents (Teddy the Swimmer). I have seen communities that utilized the wind farmed electricity. Key word there - communities. It is unlikely that large towns and small cities will find this alternative capably of supplying their needs, even if the towns were filled with energy contcious individuals such as Fred.

Not all regulation is bad. Regulation is a tool that if used properly saves lives, time, and dollars. However, just like guns, knives, hammers, and computers, in the hands of corrupt people, regulation can have evil reprecutions.

Posted by: political_sniper at June 12, 2006 5:39 PM
Post a comment