ARE ENVIRONMENTALISTS KILLING THE ENVIRONMENT? How badly do we want to make progress on climate change? According to today's Boston Globe, the answer for some in New England is: not badly enough. Beth Daley writes about the "hard look" that proposed biomass facilities - and biomass technology itself - are getting from area environmentalists and regulators. Add that to the "hard look" many regulators, environmental groups and local NIMBY opponents are giving wind (especially commercial-scale) and transmission lines (needed to interconnect any new renewable capacity) and you are left with: business as usual. Now that is a goal Americans, our politicians and business interests can all get behind - just look at health care reform. On biomass, they don't like the traffic from wood fuel delivery and they don't like the emissions. There is also concern that the greenhouse gas benefits are elusive - or at least attenuated by the time it takes the trees to grow in again. With wind, its bird and bat kills; noise and visual pollution; even ice throw and aviation impact. Solar faces its own problems in the southwest, mostly from the space it demands and the wildlife that it might displace. And then there are the two great "green" demons: nuclear power and large-scale hydro. All worthy points and we DEFINITELY should take a look at the long-term impacts of all of these technologies, but why delay now? Whatever the relative merits and drawbacks of biomass are, they are preferable to continuing to mine and burn coal. Large-scale wind, solar and biomass are not the perfect long-term solutions that many envision broader use of distributed generation and demand-side management to be. But, the relevant comparison is not the ideal scenario; it is the business as usual scenario. Until we start to bring large-scale base loading renewable capacity online, we continue inexorably on the same BAU curve. I love birds and bats too, but there is no time to waste. Environmentalists need to let go of the process so that we can all get a hold of climate change. Source: controllingpollution.com
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