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Oversight is key to energy alternatives

Everybody knows we need to get off oil, especially foreign oil. Naturally, as oil and gasoline prices climb, there is that feeling of desperation about wind and gas drilling. Of course, what's lacking is an energy police with authoritative government planning _ just as what was missing on Wall Street were government oversight and regulation of loan practices and packaging. We can't just let some companies put a few windmills on that ridge, a few gas wells in that pasture and a couple of huge solar panels on that hillside. It is too haphazard. We need energy leadership before it is too late.

What people must think of us!

So many area residents are committed to limiting our need for fossil fuels but seem so opposed to the alternatives that rear their heads anywhere in the vicinity.

It certainly puts us into a difficult position: Yes, we want alternative and renewable energy, but, sorry, you'll have to get it _ wind, hydro or natural gas _ somewhere else. Is this just another case of NIMBY-ism, or is there more to it than that?

A few years ago, it looked as if the battle of the first decade of the 21st century was going to be fought over big-turbine windmills. One proposal after another was surfacing, primarily in Delaware County towns but also in northern Otsego County.

Today, not a one has been put up, though some proposals are still blowing around in a few towns. But now NYSEG's parent company is being sold to a Spanish firm, Iberdrola, which likes wind and is being encouraged to develop more wind power. So who knows?

And what's wrong with wind power? It sounds like a great idea when the politicians toss it out there as one way to trim our dependence on foreign oil. Maybe they figure it might appeal to our romantic notions of bucolic wooden blades slowly... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

What people must think of us!

So many area residents are committed to limiting our need for fossil fuels but seem so opposed to the alternatives that rear their heads anywhere in the vicinity.

It certainly puts us into a difficult position: Yes, we want alternative and renewable energy, but, sorry, you'll have to get it _ wind, hydro or natural gas _ somewhere else. Is this just another case of NIMBY-ism, or is there more to it than that?

A few years ago, it looked as if the battle of the first decade of the 21st century was going to be fought over big-turbine windmills. One proposal after another was surfacing, primarily in Delaware County towns but also in northern Otsego County.

Today, not a one has been put up, though some proposals are still blowing around in a few towns. But now NYSEG's parent company is being sold to a Spanish firm, Iberdrola, which likes wind and is being encouraged to develop more wind power. So who knows?

And what's wrong with wind power? It sounds like a great idea when the politicians toss it out there as one way to trim our dependence on foreign oil. Maybe they figure it might appeal to our romantic notions of bucolic wooden blades slowly turning in the Dutch breeze.

The technology has come a long way since we rejected R. Buckminster Fuller's far-out idea a half century ago of putting little windmills on top of all our utility poles. Now we have industrial wind turbines, which may look innocent enough from a distance but whose revolutions many people don't want swooshing on their nearby hills.

The solution, of course, is not to denigrate wind power, but to realize we have to set aside chunks of hilltop land away from people and build major windmill farms. That has occurred out West to some extent, and we need to do that in New York state.

Just when we thought the gale of windmill controversy would never stop whipping, a power line was proposed by the NYRI firm to slice through the western and southern parts of our region.

Of course, with that power line taking juice downstate and not dropping any renewable power off around here, it never had a chance. This plan is so unpopular that liberals and conservatives, hippies and businessmen, and Republicans and Democrats are in bed together opposing it.

It's likely, however, that even if this line were carrying only wind and hydro power and this area was benefiting from it, people living anywhere near the proposed route would be up in arms.

We already had to host the Marcy South line of 20 years ago; you know, that swath through the middle of Otsego and Delaware counties holding high-voltage lines for, what else, downstate.

We've already donated one swath. That's enough. End of argument.

So energy developers must be thinking: What's wrong with these people; they don't want any wind turbines; they don't want a power line; but wait, as their expressions brighten, there's plenty of natural gas down in that shale.

Over the last few years, gas company reps have traveled the area countryside seeking leases for drilling wells to tap into all that gas lying trapped in what's known as the Marcellus shale beds below central New York. And they've a lot of takers.

And why not? Farming in the region has been in decline for 25 years, and plenty of country folks could use the income from leasing for drilling. In fact, thousands have signed on, waiting now for the gas firms to complete the infrastructure necessary to carry the gas where it needs to go.

But wait. There are environmental issues here. Getting that gas out of the shale requires shooting high-pressure toxic water into the ground and then getting the water back out again.

The groundwater may be polluted and the recycled toxic water has to be disposed of somewhere. Many people and groups are pushing for a moratorium on drilling until state regulators can get with it on 21st-century drilling.

Most people probably wouldn't oppose drilling once they can be convinced it is not going to turn our water into toxic cesspools.

Everybody knows we need to get off oil, especially foreign oil. Naturally, as oil and gasoline prices climb, there is that feeling of desperation about wind and gas drilling.

Of course, what's lacking is an energy police with authoritative government planning _ just as what was missing on Wall Street were government oversight and regulation of loan practices and packaging.

We can't just let some companies put a few windmills on that ridge, a few gas wells in that pasture and a couple of huge solar panels on that hillside. It is too haphazard.

We need energy leadership before it is too late.


Source: http://www.thedailystar.com...

OCT 4 2008
https://www.windaction.org/posts/17354-oversight-is-key-to-energy-alternatives
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