Environmental Groups Strongly Endorse “None Of The Above” Energy Plans
By Larry Bell
President Obama’s obsession with transitioning from fossil-fueled energy use to so-called “clean renewables” is being thwarted by unlikely adversaries. A 2011 U.S. Chamber of Commerce report titled “Project/No Project” found 140 renewable projects that had stalled, stopped, or been outright killed due to “Not in My Back Yard” (NIMBY) environmental activism and a system that allows limitless challenges by opponents. The study concluded that it is just as difficult to build a wind farm in the U.S. as it is to build a coal-fired plant, with about 45% of all challenged projects being “renewable energy”. This is accomplished by a variety of strategies, including organizing local opposition, changing zoning laws, preventing permits, filing lawsuits, and using other long delay mechanisms, effectively bleeding projects dry of their financing.
The study also confirmed that there were very few “shovel ready” renewable energy projects that were truly qualified for support under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (stimulus funding). And according to the U.S. Department of Energy, even if all renewable sources (including hydro) which now provide about 10% of American energy were to grow at three times the pace of all others, they would still make up just 16% of all domestic supplies by 2035.
Absolutely no energy options are immune from environmental challenges. No, it’s certainly not just “dirty” coal, oil and natural gas, that are being challenged…or those “hazardous” nuclear plants. Hydroelectric dams are under assault for killing fish, biomass burning produces greenhouse gases just as fossils do, and geothermal power releases toxic ground and water contaminates. Wind turbines slaughter birds and bats, solar power disrupts fragile desert ecosystems.
Wind and solar power also require huge amounts of land and expansive transmission lines to deliver electricity from remote sites. For example, an 85-mile Green Path North Transmission Line planned to carry green power to Los Angeles was cancelled in 2010 due to environmental opposition. As Mike Garland, CEO of Pattern Energy Group, a wind farm developer observed, “We are starting to see all renewable energy projects, no matter how well planned, are being questioned.”
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