May I suggest that the plans for deepwater wind farms 20 miles out to sea in the Gulf of Maine be scuttled before the North Atlantic scuttles the floating turbines?.
"...it will help train public-health professionals and community leaders to prepare their communities for the health consequences of climate change" And just what do you think are the health consequences of climate change?
"...Administration will convene representatives from the insurance industry and other stakeholders
to explore best practices for private and public insurers to manage their own processes and investments to account for climate change risks and incentivize policy holders to take steps to reduce their exposure to these risks." How about putting an end to government subsidized flood insurance? Sorry George.
"...and manage our public lands and natural systems to store more carbon." Well as someone who is a big climate skeptic (call me a denier if you feel the need), it's a bit hypocritical for me to posit any idea that tacitly lend credibility to something I don't take seriously. But with that caveat, if there's a painless way for Mother Nature to help your cause as in storing more carbon, in a way that costs me less money, then I'd be interested in hearing what it is. How about every home in America starts a permanent wood collection. Heavy furniture perhaps, but basically just very large blocks of wood, polyurethaned so there's no leaching of the dreaded CO2. Over the millennia such giant carbon lockups would eventually disintegrate or catch fire and release the dreaded CO2. But such mass scale storage, with everyone pitching in, would slow the CO2 emissions down and after all, the entire concept of emissions versus sequestration is one of time scale.I'll personally donate a tree to some do-gooder in a Manhattan studio apartment.It won't feel any more crowded than the battery in his hybrid car's trunk and he'll get to be warden of his own CO2 prison. I'll even sign and date it.
"...the Department of Agriculture is creating seven new Regional Climate Hubs to deliver tailored, science-based knowledge to farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners. These hubs will work with universities..." Yet more layers of government. How about a law that says for every new layer added, one must be subtracted - and it can't be the military because after all, that's actually one of the legitimate reasons for government. Don't forget, just as CO2 can increase temperatures by a degree or two, a hydrogen bomb from the enemy can make temperatures similar to the surface of the sun. So let's not forget how that pesky military budget fights its own type of potential pesky climate change and the money it needs to stay strong. My comment on the hubs per se is how they'll be working with universities. Since academia grades K-12 but particularly universities are integral purveyors of climate doom and gloom, it is absolutely essential that we keep them allegiant as such via the carrots known as grants. Here in Maine we've seen Dr. Habib Dagher take in huge sums of grant money allowing him to float prototype wind turbines first in a pool at the University of Maine and now in the ocean on his way to eventually hopefully floating supposedly thousands of these monstrosities directly above Davy Jones' locker in the pesky North Atlantic, that place where George Clooney did that swordfishing movie that didn't turn out so well.
So the feds dangle the grants, the universities go bowling for grant dollars, the carrots are dispensed and much of the university world just keeps chicken little crying about falling skies, ice core samples, hockey stick graphs and how what used to be called severe thunderstorms are now signs of the climatological apocalypse.The universities play a vital role in the climate science ecosystem supplying the academic seal of approval and authenticity. Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain stuffing grant money in his pocket. They're just one leg of the stool and equally fierce mercenaries can be found in other areas such as the sock puppets at the environmental groups who I am convinced will say just about anything. We know they get donations from climate change beneficiaries like the wind developers and the their law firms. We also know that some have gotten very large amounts of mitigation money to do their special projects like a land acquisition. The mitigation is because some wind farm 50 miles away will create all kinds of havoc and by giving the enviro group the half million dollars in mitigation funds, they atone for their sins and the enviros get funding for their pet land acquisition. It's like a trooper pulls me over for throwing a bag of garbage out my car's window on the highway but he lets me go after I show him my certificate for an acre of land I preserved somewhere in Costa Rica by giving money to The Nature Conservancy. It's like when George Clooney flies his friends across the country in a 747 and they buy carbon offsets.
But what if the enviro group had been saving for that $500,000 target land acquisition and then suddenly the protection money, err, mitigation money is dropped in their lap. Do they all get fat bonuses at the end of the year? I don't know. But I do know they're all business these days and here in Maine they now condone wind projects destroying land they used to fight for. Something's changed. The change happened concurrent with the growth of the global warming movement and it sure smells like money. When Audubon, named after ornithologist John Jacob Audubon is now in the business of rationalizing eagle deaths at wind farms, we know something has changed. Perhaps money changing hands.There are of course many good staffers and volunteers who believe in what they are doing. But I'm not so sure about the management and their ties to other organizations. There is quite the web of organizations and funders and layers of funders. It's near impossible to follow the money. For a small taste, spend some time at http://www.discoverthenetworks.org/
By the way, it could be my imagination, but has anybody else noticed how many folks seemingly involved with the climate change enviro-academic renewable energy etc. complex seem to have connections with places like Harvard and Yale? Is it that they are simply smarter than us and are intuitively more cognizant of the impending planetary crisis? Or is it that they all meet up there like recidivists in prison who meet up with their future partners in crime? Harvard vs. prison yard: How different? Being in America's elite circles puts them closer to those running things and that would include the latest greatest paths to easy money. Up here in Maine the lead wind company, First Wind is co-owned by D.E. Shaw and Madison Dearborn, both outfits heavily stocked with ivy grads. In fact former Harvard president Larry Summers had an incredibly lucrative part time job at D.E. Shaw which he left to become director of President Obama's national economic council, not long after which the near bankrupt First Wind was given a $115 million GRANT for wind projects in Maine and NY. The other owner, Madison Dearborn was singled out by Rahm Emanuel as a good friend. Then there's Dartmouth grad and now U.S. Senator Angus King who has tortured Mainers with two wind projects, one that was built with a $102 million federal loan guarantee called Record Hill and another that's still being fought called Highland Wind, well in view of the Bigelow Preserve protected for posterity with public funds while King was Governor. King's supposedly out of the wind business now, but who knows what kind of deal he might have structured.
By the way, his money partner was a mysterious shell company called Bayroot, which happens to be the name of a college drinking game. Some here in Maine claim their clear cuts have been devastating and assumed that was one of the reasons for hiding behind the shell. Well guess what, when the $102 million loan guarantee came through they got their cover blown. Bayroot, alleged clear cutter that left behind moonscapes was none other than the Yale University Endowment. Funny how Yale prides itself as one of the planet's foremost environmental stewards but somehow desecration of the almost holy places in the magnificent Maine mountains is quite alright. After all, they're keeping the planet cooler and that trumps all. It's matter of degrees. Maybe even 1 degree Farenheit and near anything goes. Bird based Audubon won't stay eagle executions. John Muir's Sierra testifies on behalf of wind projects in arguably world class Maine sporstmen's meccas. NRCM when confronted by us with facts questioning their wind support using their own CO2 numbers can only answer "your generation ruined the planet so we've got to do something". The Conservation Law Foundation testifies for wind farms but disowns the fact that their sister organization, CLF Ventures works for wind developers.
Back to John Muir. I just recalled a photo of him and great American conservationist Teddy Roosevelt in I believe Yosemite. Well when young TR was about 20, he made three annual trips to Island Falls, Maine where he explored the local woods including northwoods gem Lake Mattawamkeag. He prayed there daily and a plaque honors his visits at his place of prayer. Now it;s back to asthma. TR had asthma. But miraculously, he was cured of the debilitating affliction by his Maine guide, William Sewall. Sewall had learned cures from the Native Americans and TR was cured in his home now called Sewall House and actually owned and occupied by his great grand daughter, Donna Davidge Sewall. Interestingly enough, Donna carries on the Sewall healing tradition with a yoga studio she operates in the very home TR was cured. It's quite a piece of American history and a most interesting story as Donna has kept the healing ways alive and even teaches classes on the lakeshore of Roosevelt's beloved Mattawamkeag. Rather idyllic and what's wonderful is the lake was preserved several years ago with public funds.
Except one day a wind salesman showed up in the neighboring town of Oakfield. What Donna and the hundreds of campowners on Mattawakeag and nearby Pleasant Lake were never told was that First Wind's Oakfield project after approval was very quietly re-submitted with changes that would affect Donna and the lakeside campowners in Island Falls. I guess Oakfield figured they didn't need to inform the next town as all turbines would stand in Oakfield. And I guess First Wind didn't see any need to spread their usual joyous mantra of "Clean Energy, Made Here" - coming to a town near you, in fact on top of you.
The problem was that many of these Oakfield turbines would be distant from many of the Oakfield residents but they'd be very visible on the northwoods lakes. I believe 80% of Mattawmkeag's surface would look at turbines in their spinning and flashing glory. The Island Falls folks are fighting this injustice with all their hearts and there aren't too many hopes left. I believe it's still tied up in court so First Wind is likely growing quite impatient given the possibility the PTC could expire at year's end. There are eagles on the lakes so First Wind likely prays daily the birds will make a trip down to their Rollins wind project to get rotored.
Anyway, Bill Sewall and later President Teddy Roosevelt stayed great friends for life. I wonder what Teddy would have to say about the whole situation. And what he might say to his friend John Muir about the Sierra Club's conduct these days. I suppose the argument could be made that Teddy Roosevelt was one of the country's most important and influential conservationists. Of course what he did would not likely impress today's modern breed of enviro in Maine. For them it's all about carbon and planetary salvation, the national bird be damned.
So yes indeed. It seems that the universities and the environmental groups are part of the climate change industry that has mushroomed. And they seem a bit too far gone.
The media aren't always our friends either. On a national level there were obvious climate change/renewable energy cheerleaders like MSNBC. That didn't surprise us as they were owned by GE which had much to gain from climate change. We were a bit surprised that nothing changed there when Comcast assumed minority ownership, but maybe this was simply the niche they would continue to fill on the ideological spectrum of cable news. But we see media problems right here in Maine. Literally books could be written on the refusals to get the facts straight and some of the glaring omissions. Or the lack of priorities such as write ups for staged wind industry PR events but nary a peep when wind power causes transmission rates to leap by 20% overnight. Or when a major news organization in the state would not report on the PUC chairperson interviewing at a wind company and then getting stock options from that wind company before joining them as Director of Transmission. After the largest transmission project in state history was just worked on intensely by his PUC. Sorry, but it's stranger than fiction. One of the owners of that media company at the time had been the head of the 2008 Obama campaign in Maine. And to this day his personal website asks those looking for his investment capital to write him. And one of the images on that page is of wind turbines. Is he using the image to communicate that this might be an area he'd like to invest in? Impossible to know, but it sure seems possible.
The same paper now has new owners and I believe the majority owner is uber wealthy financier S. Donald Sussman who is married to a full 25% of Maine's congressional delegation in Washington, D.C., U.S. Representative Chellie Pingree. The Congresswoman is quite left of center and is clearly a strong supporter of wind power and of course she is entitled to her positions. And there's no law that says she can't be married to the owner of what is probably the state's largest media organization. So nothing wrong has been done. But when one follows an issue carefully and perceives a definite pro-wind power bias whether that be from omission or commission, it just doesn't feel right. We know the newspaper industry has lost readership and ad revenues and maybe we should be thanking our lucky stars that there are deep pockets like Sussman's willing to take a chance on the local newspaper business. At the same time one can't help but wonder whether the ability to affect public opinion in an entire state to very meaningful extent serves the people of Maine well when the owner's wife simultaneously wields such tremendous power in this small state of but two congressional districts.
Again, nothing illegal, but certainly a situation that I believe calls for special attention to being fair with reporting the news. But maybe I'm just frustrated four years into the wind battle with nary a real victory lined up against well resourced adversaries who get much of their resources via our tax dollars. When the Energy committee in the legislature kicks the can down the road, failing to even read expensive government wind reports they requested and whose members have received substantial household income from the wind industry but such seeming conflicts elicit no muckraking chase instinct from any of the major newspapers it gets to feel pretty damn unfair. But we somehow keep going. Which is one of the reasons we expect to ultimately prevail. The question is one of how much damage will continue to be done.
I know one thing. Books will be written and no, not by me. Rather by persons who are eminently more qualified and fully educated. With immaculate notes and documentation. And maps to where every body is buried. Unless of course they get droned. And these days, who knows. Droned out is the new drowned out. Let's hope not. Or at least let's hope the damn drone in this one case is using some inadequate biofuel.
"...in order to make natural areas and communities less vulnerable to catastrophic fire". Well how about rethinking the placement of 500' tall wind turbines on remote ridges in the heavily forested Maine woods. At 90% forest cover, we're number one in the nation and the wind industry fire policy that may work in the Iowa cornfields should not be applied to Maine a la one size fits all. These turbines catch fire and the wind industry's own safety manuals talk about very large fire safety radii. Yet here in Maine barely an acre or two of flammable forest is cleared beneath a turbine. It's an accident waiting to happen yet the industry is essentially not regulated in this regard. It's like waiting for the bad school bus accident before one figures out there should have been a seat belt law for school buses. An accident waiting to happen is an out of control turbine fire. There's a person among the Maine wind fighters named Clyde MacDonald who can speak volumes on this subject. He's a good man who has done his research carefully. He used to work for either Senator Muskie or Mitchell I believe. Ask Mr. MacDonald.
"...enhance climate preparedness through major international initiatives focused on spurring concrete action, including bilateral initiatives with China, India, and other major emitting countries." Hmm. Over the past few years we've heard the U.S. renewables industry and its legions of misguided supporters warn us that failure to act on things such as extending wind subsidies (20 years old now) will result in countries like China permanently cutting the U.S. out of this green growth industry of the future, we've paid attention to actions and not just words. Yes, we've seen China get very involved in things like the manufacture of solar panels. China we know manufactures and sells to the world. But at the same time, those paying attention know that China is building new coal plants like there is no tomorrow. China is number three in recoverable coal behind the U.S. and number two Russia. But they're using their coal. And importing coal. By burning coal, and constantly preparing to burn more coal, they are keeping their electricity costs down and their manufacturing edge. And serving the needs of their ever more power hungry population. In my opinion, China would like nothing more to see the U.S. not take advantage of its number one position in recoverable coal reserves and waste time, money and resources stalking the elusive unicorns of wind and solar power.
As a highly respected engineer at the University of Maine said a couple years back, nothing will make wind power an efficient energy source short of a change in the laws of physics. So while China will be involved in the manufacture of renewable panels and nacelles and while they will talk a great game, and while the U.S. wind energy will try and scare the public and Congress with China's inroads into wind and solar, don't take your eye off of what they do. And what they do is coal and what coal does is CO2 and other pollution. So the Obama administration will talk about the agreements we'll try and put in place with this increasingly power hungry giant but the trick is to watch what they DO. Unfortunately. the administration is locked in a game of checkers with China but as the saying goes, the Chinese are playing chess. This is what happens when a community organizer is almost overnight catapulted into the biggest job...on the planet.
Listen carefully to what people like Charles Krauthammer and John Bolton are observing. Whether you are to the left or the right, facts are stubborn things and you'll quickly see they have many facts and mature worldviews through which they're filtered. Listen carefully and put the $17 trillion deficit in the back of your mind. Think of a scary world, where enemies do in fact exist and where these enemies understand nothing but force. They'll certainly understand words, but not if the words are not backed by force. Words without backing force is like our currency without gold bullion but rather a printing press gone wild that nobody can figure out how to turn off.
What's this got to do with climate change? Everything. For when we obsess over climate change to the point we are about to explode our government into an even larger monster to plan for a climate apocalypse that is pure conjecture, and when we invariably spend huge sums of money on this while arrogantly bragging about suffocating the natural resource of coal where we rank #1 in the world at at a time that our economy is still extremely broken and the coal burning Chinese are our banker, something has to give.
And the administration has made it pretty clear that something is our military. I wish we'd mind our business across the world more than we have but I also know that weakness is provocative. The second the lone lion slows down and limps an opportunistic hyena will probe for weakness. This can be the beginning of the end and yes, hyenas will occasionally take down an adult lion. The world is filled with hyenas. As economically painful as it is to maintain an extraordinary U.S. military, it is an investment in safety. Strength and the willingness to use it is all that is respected, quite unfortunately.
But don't take my word for it. Take the word of former Maine state representative Alex Cornell du Houx. Alex, who served in the Marines and is in the U.S. Naval Reserves understands peace through strength. In fact, while in the legislature Alex worked for an organization called Operation Free which tied our national security to our energy security, specifically the lack thereof given our reliance on foreign oil. As much as I did not agree with many of Alex's views, I believe he made a valid point - that depending on oil, a portion of which comes from distant and dangerous parts of the world could end up thrusting the U.S. into dire straits if the supply were cut off. I was not quite as concerned as Alex, for I had more faith I suppose in our more proximate foreign suppliers, Canada and Mexico. But nevertheless his point was well taken. But where I differed from Alex was very clear. In fact it started with Operation Free's logo, a combination of military radar and a wind turbine. It turned out the whole thrust of Alex's energy security message was we needed to depend on domestic sources, in particular wind power. Rather interesting for we don't use oil to make electricity, which is what wind would provide. Nevertheless the entire organization was built on spreading the gospel of wind power as the answer to our energy security and thus our national security. It also put forth the idea that climate change would cause disruptions which in turn would make wars more likely. Do I think climate change (if I believed in it) could create conditions making wars more likely? Well, I guess anything is possible, but I'd rate it # 1 on a 1-10 scale. I'd rate a weakened U.S. military much higher up the scale.
But getting back to my agreement with Du Houx, reasonably maximizing energy independence is a good thing but it has to be accomplished with fuels we use and fuels that work. Three that come to mind are coal, gas and oil - and that's in alphabetical order. We have these resources. If we don't use them, some such as coal will get exported to countries that will. There's much more that can be developed and in fact there are many in the energy world who see North American energy independence within just a few year's reach. That's pretty good and worthy from both a security and economic perspective. And probably from an environmental perspective since our extraction processes may be more environmentally sound, e.g., methane. Not only do we no longer hear about Peak Oil (it's in a place where I think one day it will be joined by Global Warming), but there's talk that North America could be the new Middle East and the Middle East is likely to see its current leverage ebb. But not because of wind turbines, but rather good old American ingenuity, resilience and using what we were blessed with.
We're in the worst recession since the great depression perhaps in our country's history on the planet, we owe $17 trillion and we simply cannot purposely bankrupt our coal industry or unreasonably restrict oil and gas drilling. We need to get money flowing into the country not out of it. We jump start the process with an energy explosion, the attendant lower manufacturing costs and some energy exports. We start running a very tight ship and that includes getting rid of renewable energy subsidies. In fact, get rid of the subsidies to coal, gas and oil. Put some of that money into breakthrough energy research, not nonsense. The history of science teaches us that one day in the future our current use and understanding of energy will seem laughingly primitive. One day we'll likely see something replace electricity. Heresy. Burn me at the stake. But I base what I say not on a crystal ball but a look back in history. That's exactly the kind of thing that happens.
By the way, if you're curious about Alex Du Houx, here's a photo of him.
And if you read the caption, you are correct in surmising Alex was one of those three wind-industry Energy Committee members that stuffed all 12 citizen sponsored wind bills, like the ones about noise so little children could go to school on a full night's sleep. Yes, all 12 bills stuffed. OK, since you asked, mystery committee member # 2 was former Greenpeacer Jon Hinck whose wife is the leading wind industry attorney in the state. And mystery committee member # 3 was Stacey Fitts who worked as an engineer for a company involved with wind power that had the brass to boast on its website that one of their engineers was on the state's wind task force involved in shaping regulations. You can't make this stuff up. And we have the website screenshots.
When we discovered these connections we were understandably excited as we thought the story might elevate us a notch or two in the court of public opinion. But as they say in the news business, the story never gained any traction. This was just a bunch of cranky citizens opposed to things green who were crying about their views. Probably even some were that most repulsive Maine creature the "Outtastata". The reality is if they knew how many of us already had solar panels and even small wind turbines they'd have been shocked. Some of us even drove small fuel efficient cars and had energy efficient homes. Some of us heated with wood taken largely from the limbs that fall on the ground of our woodlots over the course of the year. I don't think any of us drove the Hummers that the wind company execs came to the public hearings in, those dashing veritable ecological super-heroes. It sure would have been nice to get the media on our side or at least neutral. But that just wasn't in the cards.
"To meet this challenge, the Obama Administration is working with partner countries to put in place the systems and institutions necessary to significantly reduce global land-use-related emissions, creating new models for rural development that generate climate benefits, while conserving biodiversity, protecting watersheds, and improving livelihoods." That's really great. I'm just not quite sure that the land of $17 trillion debt, terrible unemployment and underemployment and that currency printing press gone haywire should be stretched thin across the planet improving livelihoods of planetary citizens so far away when so many people I personally know can't find a job and have gone through most of their retirement savings to stay afloat, and of course pay the taxes which fund programs like the one just described. Maybe some of our problem is simply lack of focus. I didn't agree with much of what President Clinton stood for, but when he said he'd focus like a laser beam, I sort of believed him and I think he was able to get some things done. But with this administration? I think we're kind of all over the place. I mean, just read the attached document from start to finish with a counter in hand and give it a click every time a new goal or group or whatever is mentioned, give it a click and tell me what number you got up to. And this is all on an issue that ranks at the very bottom of Americans' concerns and one that a good portion of America doesn't think is real. Unlike the job they lost. Now that is real. Or the high price of gas. Now that is real. Or the incredible debt that is being handed down to our kids and maybe grand kids. Very real indeed. To say nothing of the fact that most Americans are worried sick about the fast approaching changes in health care. And then there are those pesky little things that really bothers some of us such as widespread domestic government spying on Joe Sixpack, the IRS going after political opponents, surveillance and criminalization of reporters for doing their jobs, the apparent obstruction of the Benghazi cover up investigation, the AP subpoenas, etc. All very real things that at least some Americans are concerned about. Very real things that we hope the administration understands it should be concerned about.
And despite all of these woes set to a backdrop of a dangerous world and a declining military, what seems most important is ensuring the livelihoods of some occupationally displaced people a world away who are quite possibly being displaced for not much more than pure conjecture - and perhaps making some more bets on more green companies.
"The Obama Administration has promoted the expansion of renewable, clean, and efficient energy sources and technologies worldwide through: • Financing and regulatory support for renewable and clean energy projects" Well it's worse than I would have imagined. Not only are we borrowing money and printing it and not only have we flushed billions down the renewable energy toilet but now we read that we're financing renewable energy worldwide. Since a number of renewable companies in the states have gone belly up, may I ask what we are doing to safeguard the money we presumably lend abroad. Are these folks better credit risks than the people mortgage lenders were in essence made to lend to?
"...the President calls for an end to U.S. government support for public financing of new coal plants overseas, except for (a) the most efficient coal technology available in the world’s poorest countries..." Here it seems we are seeing redistribution of wealth in kind. While we will oppose coal in the U.S. and in well to do nations, we'll let the poor nations avail themselves of this efficient fuel source. Perhaps it will be even more efficient if demand is artificially regulated downwards elsewhere. Interestingly, here we see the Democratic party, who likes to claim the mantle of best helping the poor, actually having no problem subjecting these poor nations to a fuel they vilify at home for health reasons. It's not unlike the renewable mandates in the U.S. which jack up electricity prices which has the greatest effect on the poor.
If I had an inexperienced and arrogant out of touch manager who handled projects lists and priorities like the way our administration does I'd have to fire him or her. Unfortunately many of us tried to do that with the Obama administration in November and we came up short.