Clean Power: Lead or Get Out of the Way

I've long been irked by the moves taken by supposedly progressive lawmakers to block the installation of wind turbines for aesthetic reasons. It really does not get any more hypocritical than people claiming to want to fight global warming fighting even harder against wind power that might obstruct the scenic views of their constituents. It's perfectly reasonable for an elected representative of the people to stand up for the wishes of the people. However, the potential benefits of sustainable energy far outweigh the personal interests of a relatively small group of constituents.

It should be obvious to many readers that I am referring pretty specifically to Senator Ted Kennedy. As far back as 2003, Kennedy has publicly opposed a plan to install wind turbines off of Cape Cod in Nantucket Sound. The plan's opponents, like legendary journalist Walter Cronkite, talk a lot about making "natural treasures" like Nantucket Sound "off limits to industrialization." But personally, I think it's pretty crass to call a project like this "industrialization." After all, wind power is more about reversing the impact of twentieth century industrialization than furthering it.

The Wall Street Journal's Washington Wire blog has the details on a move by Kennedy to scuttle the plans for this proposed wind farm.

Sen. Ted Kennedy and other rich land owners on Cape Cod continue their attacks on a proposed wind turbine power plant on Nantucket Sound. Aides to Sen. Ted Stevens (R., Alaska), chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, say Kennedy suggested an amendment, now tucked in the Coast Guard's annual authorization bill, that gives Gov. Mitt Romney, a Republican foe of the project, a veto even though it would be located on a federally owned part of the Sound. Two Democrats on the panel, Senators Maria Cantwell and Frank R. Lautenberg, objected. A third Democrat, Sen. Jeff Bingaman, has issued a statement complaining that the move makes a "mockery" of efforts by Congress to increase clean domestic energy supplies.

I'd like to say that we should take this story with a grain of salt as it comes from aides to a Republican Senator. After all, when news of the Romney veto came to light, it was Stevens and fellow Alaska Republican Don Young who took the heat. But unfortunately, given Kennedy's opposition to this plan, it seems to me that news of his involvement is most likely accurate. After all, why should Stevens take a hit for Kennedy?

The right loves this story. And love it they should. It's a clear cut case of liberal hypocrisy. Here's a leading member of the party that claims to be pro-environment trying to shut down an environmentally responsible project because it would take away from his scenic views. It's classic NIMBYism. John Stossel couldn't make up a better narrative if he tried.

There have been some attempts by Cape Cod environmentalists to downplay the potential benefits from the project. Senator Kennedy's nephew, Robert Kennedy Jr, has been one of the project's most outspoken critics. Initially, that gave me some pause as to the true environmental responsibility of the project. But at best, it seems that his judgement is likely clouded on this particular subject. Here's how the Natural Resources Defense Council characterizes the project:

As the first offshore wind energy undertaking in the nation, Cape Wind would set a precedent for similar facilities that could improve air quality, public health and global warming emissions. The Cape Wind project would provide 420 megawatts of electricity from 130 emissions-free turbines. That is enough to supply 75 percent of power needed on Cape Cod, Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard.

By using clean energy instead of fossil fuel electricity generation, the Cape Wind project will eliminate approximately 360 tons of particulate matter, 2,400 tons of sulfur oxides, 800 tons of nitrogen oxides, and 1,000,000 tons of carbon dioxide for every year of operation. That will reduce respiratory problems and other pollution-related health effects, as well as reducing the carbon pollution that causes global warming.

I have a great deal of respect for Senator Kennedy. But on this issue, he needs to either lead or get out of the way. This isn't about the views from Cape Cod. This is about the future of our planet.

Tags: Democrats, energy policy, Environment, Global Warming, Ted Kennedy, Wind Energy (all tags)

Comments

30 Comments

Re: Clean Power: Lead or Get Out of the Way

The Massachusetts Audubon Society has given the wind farm a positive review, which just points out how much Kennedy and (to a lesser extent) Kerry have been playing the rich liberal NIMBY.  As someone who sweats each month opening the electric bill, I don't give a rat's ass about how the view from some multi-million dollar estates is affected (answer: not much).

http://www.boston.com/news/local/massach usetts/articles/2006/03/29/audubon_revie w_supports_wind_farm/

by JeffGilson 2006-04-16 09:14AM | 0 recs
Switchgrass!

I know we're talking about wind here, but as the overall goal is renewable, clean energy, switchgrass hardly seems too far off topic. I live in VA-05, a district with a flailing and failing industrial and agricultural economy, craving some sort of injection of well-paying, long-lasting jobs. The south side of the district is perfect for growing switchgrass (some have already started) and yet two of our three congressional candidates still don't have a clue.

A couple years ago, Al Weed started a group called Public Policy Virginia to research switchgrass and its applications in rural Virginia. He's been talking about it for years now, and even after the president mentioned it in the SotU, he's still the only one who thinks it's a worthwhile endeavor. The other Democrat running for the nomination says it's not practical, not worthwhile, and the Republican incumbent (Virgil "MZM-Scandal" Goode, a.k.a. "Representative A") released an "comprehensive energy plan" with absolutely no mention of switchgrass.

It's so frustrating to see what is obviously a win-win, politically and economically, get ignored and passed over time and time again. We are supporting terrorism with every gallon of gas we buy and I'm tired of it. We could take our $50B oil deficit and inject it right back into our own agricultural communities. It'd be like the new New Deal, and we could rid ourselves of our dependence on foreign energy. Al wants to lead, the other two should get the hell out of the way.

by msnook 2006-04-16 09:29AM | 0 recs
Re: Switchgrass!

sell it as an alternative to growing tobacco--make it out to be a win/win between the anti-tobacco lobby and the tobacco farmer's association.  That would seem to be a way to get people on board for funding.

by Valatan 2006-04-16 10:48AM | 0 recs
Switching Back to Wind

I have a hard time understanding the NIMBY backlash here.  The turbines will be 13 miles offshore at their closest point to land.  They are 20 feet in diameter.  It takes a pretty clear day, and pretty keen eyesight to see a 20 foot object at 13 miles.  The moving blades would be invisible from that distance.  Heck, the curvature of the earth is going to hide a good percentage of the base anyway...

by Edwin 2006-04-16 09:39AM | 0 recs
Re: Switching Back to Wind

please review your facts. the truth is that these 130 towers are each taller than Statue of Liberty, and their three-bladed turbines have 161-foot blades which in a normal wind will spin at 16 revolutions per minute, for a tip velocity of over 200 mph

by dansignman 2006-04-16 10:29AM | 0 recs
Re: Switching Back to Wind

There were photos of the view from land posted on this site about a year ago.  I can't seem to be able to find them using the search funciton, but if those pictures are anything close to the reality, there is really little to complain about.  Taller than the statue of liberty or no, 13 miles out is a really long way.  And this should be seen from a cost/benefit anyway.

If this proposal was to build turbines off the coast of rural south carolina, far from the homes of the rich, we woudln't be having this debate at all.  

by Valatan 2006-04-16 10:57AM | 0 recs
Re: Somerset, Pa

There are about 6 giant wind turbines set up on a ridge near Somerset, Pa. You can see them from the turnpike. I don't know if I'd want one 300' from my house, but out in open space, they have their own kind of beauty and it's very calming looking at the turbine blades rotating, often slowly, in the wind.

by phillydem 2006-04-16 12:08PM | 0 recs
Re: Clean Power: Lead or Get Out of the Way

the windfarm is a burn for the residents here. let's put in the grand canyon, why not? they have lots of wind there, too. while it seems like a 'no-brainer' to some, others look a little deeper. why should we industrialize nantucket sound for such a marginal gain? the main reason they're for it is that it turns the millionaire backers into mega-millionaires overnight, but the rest of us have to have the commons converted into moneymaking for the already rich. let's put them on the top of the great smoky mountains, why not? there's wind there too.or how about putting them in central park? just jack them up high enough to catch the wind. i suppose conservation is out of the question? no, we need more and more power so we can keep our lights on all night. don't be jumping to conclusions that just because this is posited as an 'alternative' project that anybody who is opposed to it is a hypocrite

by dansignman 2006-04-16 10:17AM | 0 recs
Re: Clean Power: Lead or Get Out of the Way

Great post. However, let me correct the record a little bit, as you give the NIMBY's too much credit. First, Walter Cronkite originally opposed the project, but very publically changed his position after he learned more about it. And, opponents are not the Cape's environmentalists, as far as I can see (and I'm one mile from Nantucket Sound), but a cabal of very wealthy individuals who have ponied up millions of dollars for lobbying fees. Environmentalists -- and I count myself as one -- are pretty much in favor of the Cape Wind project.

by len stewart 2006-04-16 10:26AM | 0 recs
Re: Clean Power: Lead or Get Out of the Way

Is there a good environmental blog that deals with stuff like this?

by Matt Stoller 2006-04-16 10:58AM | 0 recs
Re: Clean Power: Lead or Get Out of the Way

Check out this site: http://www.ei2025.org/

by HCLiberal 2006-04-16 09:13PM | 0 recs
Re: blog for issue

Here's one, from an environmentalist leftist, apparently in Vermont: http://kirbymtn.blogspot.com.

by Ma 2006-04-28 05:51AM | 0 recs
Re: Clean Power: Lead or Get Out of the Way

Lot's of questions here about this project. That's as it should be. I personally favor wind power in general but don't know enough about this specific project to voice an opinion.

I do know one thing.

If you think the fat-assed, multi-millionaire Ted Kennedy is in any war, shape or form different from his ReThug colleagues in the Senate....you bin drinkin' the Kool-Aid and need to take the cure.

Until we rid ourselves of the parasite class of politicians who are always serving single-interest groups, such as the rich, we are not going to solve the problems we face as a nation.

Crash the Gate and get rid of Kennedy and his ilk.

by Pericles 2006-04-16 10:37AM | 0 recs
Re: Clean Power: Lead or Get Out of the Way

I am not sure I find this comment useful.

by illinois062006 2006-04-16 11:41AM | 0 recs
WTF is wrong with Kennedy?

Seriously. I've heard a lot of people say it, but I've never heard anything but guilt by association and too-liberal-to-be-true. I could be wrong about this, and my ears are open, but will someone please tell me what the fuck is wrong with Ted Kennedy?

Until I get an answer other than "He's trying to lead a dead crusade" and "He's been in Government too long to trust him" I will summarily ignore any argument that relies on Ted Kennedy being bad for the progressive movement. If you hate people who get elected why don't you just vote for the damn Green Party already.

P.S. I am not talking to/about any of you who have legitimate concerns with Kennedy's voting record, or substantive problems with his methods, just the knee-jerkers who refuse to back up claims with evidence.

by msnook 2006-04-16 05:27PM | 0 recs
Re: Clean Power: Lead or Get Out of the Way

I'd be a lot more enthused about parking wind turbines in scenic areas if we were doing everything else we could as a society to conserve energy.  But we are behaving like a bunch of drunken frat boys on Saturday night--  building massive McMansions which need to be heated and cooled, driving Hummers, and generally using fossil fuels like there is no tomorrow.  Although I'm enthusiastic about renewable energy sources like wind power,  we could save a lot more energy and do it a lot sooner by using less.  Approaching energy issues from the supply end is what we have always done, and therein lies the problem.

by global yokel 2006-04-16 11:23AM | 0 recs
Re: Clean Power: Lead or Get Out of the Way
Republican Senator Inhofe of Oklahoma has also proposed DRILLING in Massachusetts, and I believe this is retribution for decades of opposition to the energy policy of Stevens and his coterie.  While I am not opposed to the windfarm off of Nantucket Sound, I do believe the residents of that area, and especially those who own property in that beautiful area, have a right to voice concerns and complaints.  And Ted Kennedy has the right to lead by representing these constituents' concerns.  The Republicans always invoke Massachusetts and their opposition to the windfarm whenever their proposals are blocked.  They tried to do the same to Olympia Snowe when she and Susan Collins proposed their bill for subsidizing winter heating bills in Maine.  And in fact, Mary Landrieu asked Olympia Snowe during the debate if offshore drilling would alleviate the problem, tacitly asking Snowe to apologize for opposing that proposal in last year's Energy Bill.
The real culprit in wind energy legislation is Lamar Alexander and Lisa Murkowski, who lead opposition on the Senate floor last year to wind turbine installation.  They are the one's who claims it obstructs the environment by cluttering the horizon with metallic, geometric forms.  And if we are truly concerned with it, why not install large farms in North Dakota, which is the most windy state in the union.  Conrad and Dorgan have already stated their support for this project, as it would bring jobs to their state, and the residents of North Dakota are already enthusiastic about the two turbines already operating in their state.
Their are many rural areas in the Midwest, and in the Upper Midwest in particular, that could install such wind farms without affecting property rates.  Regarding Nantucket, this is expensive property, and the area is a national treasure.  I would rather have these farms installed in economically depressed states that can benefit from the surplus energy and from the jobs such windfarms would produce.  Why not focus on states that desire such farms?  Why not focus on North Dakota?  And why continue the battering of Kennedy?  Is it not clear that this is once again the oilmen's attempt to invalidate the innovative energy stance of the Northeast?  And is it not clear that it is the oil lobby and not necessarily the Republican party that is orchestrating this invalidation of Kennedy's stance?
by illinois062006 2006-04-16 11:41AM | 0 recs
Re: can't we use different building material

Can't we build these towers out of a material that possibly could be translucent or, if not, paint them, at least on the "scenic side" in colors that would blend into the surrounding environment? You could put the same kind of strobe light on top that's used for radio transmitter or radar towers, couldn't you?

by phillydem 2006-04-16 12:01PM | 0 recs
errr . . . .

. . . they're going to be in the middle of Nantucket Sound.  I'd think you'd want passing ships to be able to see them -- it's an active ferry route, let alone recreational craft.

As a part-time Cape resident (though nowhere near Nantucket), I'm opposed to the project.  Yes, there are wealthy residents who are opposed to the plan, but what about the wealthy corporations who'd profit off the development (and the federal/state subsidies for building the turbines)?  Everyone's got incentives here that have to do with something other than clean energy.

Here's a good nonpartisan resource.

by Adam B 2006-04-16 12:27PM | 0 recs
simulated photos
simulated photos. Go to bottom and you can see the view from 13 miles away. http://www.capewind.org/modules.php?op=m odload&name=Sections&file=index& amp;req=viewarticle&artid=9 As I commented before, not much to see from 13 miles away
by Edwin 2006-04-16 01:02PM | 0 recs
Re: simulated photos

Those pictures were created by the people who stand to profit if the project ever goes through.  Not exactly an unbiased source.

by Adam B 2006-04-16 01:05PM | 0 recs
Re: simulated photos
Not true, but that is irrelevent. It is very easy to figure out how big something appears at 13 miles distance. These towers will be very small lines on the horizon - from the islands.
by Edwin 2006-04-16 02:56PM | 0 recs
Re: simulated photos

What part of it isn't true?  They were hired by the folks who stand to make millions of the project.

And as you know, some parts of the project are 6 miles from shore.

by Adam B 2006-04-16 03:53PM | 0 recs
Re: Clean Power: Lead or Get Out of the Way

The real hypocrite is Bobby Kennedy Jr. who is an environmental lawyer after all.

The Scandinavians are having a good laugh at this story. They have many off shore windmills and the world didn't come to an end. (Neither did the scenic view).

by rdf 2006-04-16 02:39PM | 0 recs
Re: Clean Power: Lead or Get Out of the Way

I'm not convinced Robert Kennedy Jr is the hypocrit.  He has written eloquently about the poor initial siting of the windfarm and about privatizing (?) 24 sq miles of public lands, etc.  It is for those reasons he has opposed this particular windfarm.

by Dyana 2006-04-17 03:29AM | 0 recs
Re: Laughing Danes

Neither did their use of other fuels decline. Wind is indeed a big joke.

by Ma 2006-04-17 09:14AM | 0 recs
Re: Clean Power: Lead or Get Out of the Way

I agree that the opposition here is lamentable.  The Kennedys in particular need to get out of the way here.  This is the most absurd nimby action I have ever seen.

by calscientist 2006-04-16 10:32PM | 0 recs
Re: Clean Power: Lead or Get Out of the Way
Using the "it's an eyesore" arguement to deep six wind power in the cape area is almost as bad as the arguement from nature lovers that turbines kill birds. If gulls (i.e. flying sea rat) get chopped up, consider it an off-shore, bird-flavored fish feeder.
by Faustic 2006-04-17 01:55AM | 0 recs
Re: simulated photos

No, but it means you need to be skeptical about information that was created by biased sources.  Here, there and everywhere.

by Adam B 2006-04-17 10:02AM | 0 recs
by zorggie 2006-08-29 09:37AM | 0 recs

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