As the 38th annual Earth Day approached on April 22, many who care about both the poor and the environment were listening to calls for radical measures. The fear is that flooding in coastal regions could displace millions, mostly the poor; heat waves could kill many who are elderly or diseased; and decreased crop yields could lead to starvation in developing nations.
So does compassion require the federal government to require immediate and drastic cuts in CO2 emissions? Enter Bjørn Lomborg, a Danish academic, author, and founder of the Copenhagen Consensus, a group devoted to economic analysis of policy proposals to solve the world's toughest problems. Lomborg's congressional testimony last month systematically deconstructed the much-hyped testimony by former vice president Al Gore.
Lomborg argued that the high economic costs of emissions-cutting proposals would deliver meager global benefits compared to what such funds could accomplish elsewhere. He cited his organization's global priority list, a ranking of the world's most cost-effective opportunities to improve the human situation. A panel of top-tier economists, including four Nobel Laureates, constructed the table in 2004 based on their analysis of areas where the most good could result from the least economic harm.
The panel ranked various measures to control the spread of disease and alleviate food and water shortages as top priorities. Climate-change solutions, such as carbon taxes or the Kyoto Protocol, scored at the very bottom, delivering minimal gains relative to their costs.
Click here to read the full report published in last week's issue of WORLD Magazine.
Hans Daatselaar has written a moving open letter in this week's Valley News that merits the full read of a wider audience. As he starts out
The Statue of Liberty represents the triumph of democratic society over tyranny and corruption. As a New York Harbor tugboat pilot I am almost always in the presence of this great American symbol of freedom and democracy. But lately it's the site of this beautiful statue that reminds me of the failed democratic system of government in my hometown and the distressing divisions among residents of this community 300 miles away.Click here to read the entire letter.
Senate Bill S4608
On April 19, 2007, Senator Jim Alesi introduced legislation in the New York Senate, cosponsored by 7 other senators, that "establishes the New York state task force on wind generating facilities siting and permitting policies to study the need to implement a uniform statewide policy regarding the siting and permitting of wind energy production facilities; further establishes an 18-month moratorium upon the siting and permitting of wind energy production facilities; repeals such provisions effective December 31, 2008."
Recently there has been renewed interest in wind energy development in New York. Although the recent growth of the wind industry is welcomed by many in New York, local authorities and residents in wind-rich counties are concerned about their ability to address existing or anticipated proposals from wind energy developers interested in installing projects within their jurisdiction. With modem wind turbines standing between 200-400 feet tall, wind energy projects can have a major impact on the surrounding area. These wind energy production facilities have the potential of causing a significant negative impact on the scenic and historic character of our highways and byways. Furthermore, wind energy facilities could have a negative impact upon residential areas and adjacent communities.
Wind energy is an important renewable energy source, however, it is very important to have a comprehensive plan for siting these high-tech wind facilities across New York in order to avoid any negative impacts upon the surrounding areas. This legislation seeks to study the need for a statewide comprehensive plan for siting wind facilities and places an 18 month moratorium on any new construction or issuing of new permits for the construction of wind energy facilities so the task force can complete its study and make recommendations.
Click here to read the Sponsors' Memo and Full Text of the legislation.
Coalition of Citizens File Antitrust Complaint with the Department of Justice Against the Wind Energy Industry
Naples NY, April 25, 2007
A grass roots coalition of nearly 100 citizens from New York, Vermont, and other states have filed a federal Antitrust Complaint alleging that an international cartel comprised of foreign and domestic business entities have conspired to eliminate competition in the newly emerging U.S. wind energy sector.
This Complaint, filed today with the Department of Justice Antitrust Division, maintains that windfarm developers, suppliers, consultants, investors, and in some cases public officials have engaged in illegal geographic Market Allocation, Price Fixing and Bid Rigging in direct violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act.
As a result of this illegal conspiracy thousands of landowners and hundreds of municipalities have been denied substantial monetary gains that otherwise would be available in a free and competitive market.
The 94 citizen Complainants expect that the Department of Justice will act quickly to assign appropriate resources necessary to investigate and prosecute these allegations and to punish any and all criminal wrongdoing to the full extent of the law. The Complainants also expect that the Department will take appropriate measures to ensure that the members of this international cartel are prevented from retaliating against any of the listed Complainants.
According to the Department of Justice, price fixing, bid rigging, and market allocation by individuals or companies are felonies currently punishable by maximum individual fines of $1 million, maximum corporate fines of $100 million, and maximum jail terms of 10 years.
Citizens from the following locales in New York are participating: Naples, Cohocton, Wayland, Cape Vincent, Lowville, Stamford, Malone, Wyoming, Cherry Valley, Addison, Canisteo, Allegany, Rochester, North Bangor, Little Falls, Hornell, Fairport, Webster, and Prattsburgh. Citizens from the following locales in Vermont are participating: Sheffield, East Burke, Sutton, and Peacham.
Questions regarding this Complaint (available in PDF form here) may be directed to:
Bradley E. Jones
3996 Donley Road
Naples NY 14512
585-374-2627 (H), 585-233-8539 (M)
UPC Wind’s industrial bandwagon seems to be rolling along in Cohocton with its faithful crew of paid supporters, hired studies, legal counselors and compliant local officials. Reams of factual material about the project’s negligible effect on greenhouse gases, negative impact on adjacent properties, and fraudulently underestimated noise has fallen on deaf ears. After a brief series of pro-forma “hearings” our Planning Board seems poised to rubber stamp Special Use Permits for 52 giant turbines in our Town submitted by UPC in two segmented applications, as if they really have two projects in town, not one.
Who are they fooling, and what can you do about it? First, be sure you attend the Planning Board meeting this Thursday evening, 4/26, at 7 pm in the Cohocton Elementary School. In the meantime, please read our article in this week's Valley News for some other ideas and references. Thanks!
(excerpted from a UPC Wind* handout)
I heard there were some sound issues with the Mars Hill wind farm. What is this about?
>Several households in Mars Hill have expressed concern over sound levels at certain times and in different weather conditions.
How is UPC Wind responding?
>UPC Wind cares about neighbors' perceptions of sound at the Mars Hill wind farm and is taking their concerns seriously. In response, UPC Wind has retained RSE, an independent engineering consulting firm, to perform field measurements for sound in Mars Hill. In addition, UPC Wind senior managers plan to meet with individual households involved to better understand their concerns.
How and when will the testing be done?
>The goal of the testing is to confirm that the wind farm does not have an unreasonable impact on protected locations [italics added] in accordance with the permit issued by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) in June 2004. This process is expected to take several weeks.
Where will the sound be measured?
>Sound measurements will be documented at several field locations around Mars Hill and at the turbines.
Why can't the sound be measured at individual residences during the process?
>We have targeted specific locations that will give us the best overall measurement of the sound level. The locations selected are nearby residential properties without being intrusive to landowners, and will minimize the influence of noise that can occur from ordinary residential activities.
Where can I get more specific information?
>If you have specific questions regarding sound issues at Mars Hill, please feel free to contact Michael Alvarez, UPC Wind Executive Vice President & Chief Executive Officer.
* A boast from the Mars Hill Wind website: "UPC Wind is a U.S. wind power leader, developing, owning and operating successful wind farms across America... "
4/5 - Bill, they honestly do not care. Mr. Alvarez gave a smart aleck, attorney like, answer to an elderly gentleman who asked why the wind mills are so close to people's homes. This elderly gentleman's lower lip was quivering, and Mr. Alvarez had the nerve to answer him, "Close is a matter of perspective." I wish we had tar and feathers at this meeting. Good luck in fighting these people. By the way, Wells Fargo and JP Morgan somehow became part of the Mars Hill wind mill project. We are up against a brick wall and you probably are too. But we will not go down without a fight. Mr. Alvarez mentioned that they had a site in New York already, but it was on an "ugly" steel mill. What site was he talking about?
4/23 - Please keep the people living around Mars Hill Mountain in your prayers. We hired an attorney, a good attorney, in an attempt to make UPC address the noise issue. Our attorney asked UPC to pay for an independent sound analysis on behalf of Mars Hill residents; UPC flatly turned this down. We are stuck with the windmills that we supposedly would never hear, but today it sounds like Bradley Airport in CT. There is no letup on the noise. Now we are going to try to rattle UPC's cage via the media. There is a gentleman coming from Vermont to do a documentary. I don't think much will be done, but I will certainly write editorials to certain papers about Mr. Alvarez's total disregard for residents' issues at that meeting.
Hello! How are you? I grew up in Cohocton and graduated from Cohocton Central School in 1992 with 17 other kids, 9 of whom started kindergarten with me. Cohocton is a very special Lake Wobegon community. I have been in the U. S. Navy which has shown me the world, and I have traveled the United States and Canada on various hiking expeditions. There are very few places that have the charm that Cohocton does. I may or may not return to Cohocton, but most likely one day I will return to the Western New York area. I would like to pick your brain about the wind power issue that has taken a grip on Cohocton and the surrounding townships. May I?
First, let me introduce myself. My name is Gregory Hodges, and I am a senior at Old Dominion University studying electrical engineering, and I am a veteran of the U.S. Nuclear Power Naval Program where I was a nuclear reactor operator. Thus, I am familiar with electrical power generation concepts and theory. What I am not familiar with is the impact that the different forms of power generation impose on the communities that host its production. And this is where I hope we can have some dialogue.
I am sure you have heard that slogan, "Not in my backyard." No one (for the most part) wants a nuclear reactor, fossil fuel plant, and now a wind turbine in their backyard. But, if you had to have a choice between a nuclear reactor, a coal plant, a dam, or a wind turbine, which would you prefer? There are pros and cons for each one. But, what form of power generation would you be willing to accept in Cohocton?
My answer would be a hydro dam, but we both know that the Cohocton River is not quite large enough to facilitate something like what Nikola Tesla built with George Westinghouse at Niagara Falls. However, that would be my answer if it was possible. And, I am sure that would conjure up some debate over the breeding grounds of the trout, the impact on the agricultural quality of the valley floor, etc. I have an affinity for nuclear power too, but maybe because I am comfortable with it since I served on a submarine where I operated a reactor, and I live near Norfolk Naval Base which has about 20 to 30 nuclear reactors (on submarines and carriers) at any given time concentrated in about 5 square miles and in the vicinity of 2 million people that live within 45 miles radius. But, nuclear power is way more controversial than wind power (in my opinion).
I will conclude my letter with hopes you will get a chance to reply.
Click here to read my reply.
There's an old maxim that the end doesn't justify the means. In other words, no matter how admirable a goal may be, using improper means to attain it is never appropriate. This truth seems to be lost on ardent wind power supporters in Cohocton, including UPC Wind, its paid promoters and leaseholders, and our Town's elected and appointed officials, all of whom have taken the public posture that they are law-abiding, responsive to community concerns, and follow due process. But what does the record show? Read our article in this week's Valley News and then do whatever you can to become part of the solution.
Mark Densmore has posted a link on the Yes! website to what he calls an "Excellent Article on Wind Power" written by Charles Komanoff, a wind power activist, and published in the September/October 2006 issue of Orion Magazine. It's a pretty article and quite beguiling in its own way, but many of Orion's faithful readers took their favorite magazine to task for publishing it. As Dr. Dennis McNair writes:
Charles Komanoff’s article, “Whither Wind?” Orion 25(5), reveals him as a simplistic apologist for the wind industry. That such deliberate misdirection and propaganda were allowed to be published in your magazine is disappointing.
Eric Rosenbloom continues in a similar vein:
Komanoff's vision of the ways things ought to be is threatened by environmentalists who haven't swallowed the sales spiel and instead have determined that industrial wind turbines on rural and especially wild sites bring negative impacts that far outweigh the elusive benefits. He spent almost two months repeatedly pestering an environmental leader in western Massachusetts for opposing giant wind turbines in the Berkshires. Though Komanoff contacted her through a mutual friend, she quickly saw that he was not at all interested in discussion and she rightly ignored his continuing prods. He took this turning of the cheek as a sign of defeat and posted the "exchange" on his website as a trophy of victory. But if one does not deny the impacts nor the shortcomings of big wind on the grid, the only conclusion is that the benefits do not justify its industrialization of rural and wild areas. Komanoff and other pro-wind environmentalists are on the wrong side of this issue.
Yen Chin carries the argument further and concludes:
Wind power has a place in a humane and sensible world, but that place cannot and should not be as prominent as Mr. Komanoff would have us believe.
Follow these links to read Dr. McNair's complete commentary, followed by Rosenbloom's critique of Komanoff's credentials as an environmentalist and Yen Chin's cogent thesis on the difference between energy conservation and energy efficiency. All of which demonstrates that a person can be very persuasive until other intelligent observers offer their well-reasoned rebuttals. Unfortunately, the arena where most of the struggle for truth is taking place in our country is in quiet places of beauty that we've taken for granted for too long.
Judging from the media in recent months, the debate over global warming is now over. There has been a net warming of the earth over the last century and a half, and our greenhouse gas emissions are contributing at some level. Both of these statements are almost certainly true. What of it? Recently many people have said that the earth is facing a crisis requiring urgent action. This statement has nothing to do with science. There is no compelling evidence that the warming trend we've seen will amount to anything close to catastrophe. What most commentators –and many scientists – seem to miss is that the only thing we can say with certainly about climate is that it changes. The earth is always warming or cooling by as much as a few tenths of a degree a year; periods of constant average temperatures are rare. Looking back on the earth's climate history, it's apparent that there's no such thing as an optimal temperature – a climate at which everything is just right. The current alarm rests on the false assumption not only that we live in a perfect world, temperaturewise, but also that our warming forecasts for the year 2040 are somehow more reliable than the weatherman's forecast for next week.
Click here to read a PDF version of the whole article by Richard S. Lindzen in this week's edition of Newsweek International. Dr. Lindzen is the Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Meteorology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His research has always been funded exclusively by the U.S. government. He receives no funding from any energy companies.
Labels: Global Warming
Perspectives on global warming: Regarding Kyoto, two international leaders have said it best. Margot Wallstrom, the EU's Environment Commisioner states that Kyoto is “about levelling the playing field for big businesses worldwide.” French President Jacques Chirac said during a speech at the Hague in November 2000 that Kyoto represents “the first component of authentic global governance.”
How certain can we be that the recently publicized findings of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Control (IPCC) are completely scientific and unbiased by political considerations?
“No matter if the science is all phony, there are collateral environmental benefits... climate change provides the greatest chance to bring about justice and equality in the world” Christine Stewart, former Canadian Environment Minister.
“Unless we announce disasters, no one will listen.” Sir John Houghton, first chairman of IPCC.
“Whether you believe the science [of global warming] or not is beside the point. Policy should be more about risk than proof.” Jon Anda, Morgan Stanley Vice Chairman.
“If the global warming virago collapses, there will be an awful lot of people out of jobs.” Philip Stott, Biogeographer, University of London.
“We have a vested interest in creating panic because money will then flow to climate scientists.” John Christy, IPCC contributor.
“So, we have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we might have.” Professor Stephen Schneider, global warming guru at Stanford University.
“We have to get rid of the Mediaeval Warm Period.” Confided to geophysicist David Deming by the IPCC (1995).
“The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.” H. L. Mencken.
“Fewer scientific problems are so often discussed, yet so rarely decided by proofs, as whether climatic relations have changed over time.” Joachim von Schouw, 1826.
“Skepticism is the first step toward truth.” Denis Diderot, philosopher.
“Global warming is a lovely hypothesis destroyed by an ugly fact.” Thomas Henry Huxley.
“The urge to save humanity is almost always only a false face for the urge to rule it.” H. L. Mencken.
“For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.” H. L. Mencken.
“Believe those who are seeking the truth; doubt those who find it.” Andre Gide, Nobel Prize winning novelist.
“Remember, all men would be tyrants if they could.” Daniel Defoe.
“...and I think future generations are not going to blame us for anything except for being silly, for letting a few tenths of a degree panic us.” Dr. Richard Lindzen, MIT meteorology professor and member of the National Academy of Sciences.
“Global warming, at least the modern nightmare version, is a myth. I am sure of it and so are a growing number of scientists. But what is really worrying is that the world's politicians and policy-makers are not.” Dr. Gareth Jones, climate researcher, Met Office, UK.
An interesting video documentary (viewable online through this link) was produced in the UK this March called “The Great Global Warming Swindle.” The film offers a suitable rebuttal to and is no more or less objective or politically motivated than Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth.” If you're going to see one, you should probably view the other one, too.
Regarding Kyoto, two international leaders have said it best. Margot Wallstrom, the EU's Environment Commisioner states that Kyoto is “about levelling the playing field for big businesses worldwide.” French President Jacques Chirac said during a speech at the Hague in November 2000 that Kyoto represents “the first component of authentic global governance.”
There may be a few letters published by the YES! group in this week’s issue of The Valley News that complain about how badly wind project critics have been behaving at the recent site review meetings being hosted by our Planning Board. They probably won’t tell you about their own misbehavior or why neighboring landowners might be upset. In fact, they may claim the whole thing is about rudeness, completely ignoring their own initiation of the confrontation. We think the problem, however, has more to do with disenfranchisement. Read our article and then let us know what you think.
For God-fearing people around the world, Passion Week and its Hebrew counterpart Passover, represent a time for both serious reflection, profound gratitude, and divine hope for the future. What we're experiencing in Cohocton this week instead, however, could be described as a kind of emotional, moral, and ethical melt-down, and I've begun to ponder what would happen if, instead of melting DOWN into anger and division and legalism, we melted UP into repentence, forgiveness, and joyful reconciliation. What could the God of the universe do with a community of broken and contrite hearts? Then I had a dream, like a daytime vision or imagination, that I'd like to share with you.
It was a sunny summer Sunday afternoon and three of us were walking along the hot dusty clay of Moore Road - George Buss, Gerald Moore, and me. Gerald was telling us about his childhood days growing up on the hill, and we were enjoying the scenery together. As we looked to the south an almost endless cornfield spread out before us, its stalks gently waving in the warm breeze. All was quiet except for an occasional bird call. The sky was blue with puffy clouds floating along, and there wasn't a sign of industry, not a single windmill in sight.
Our gaze drifted over to the north where we began to behold a wonderful vista sweeping down the hill and over Canandaigua Lake in the valley below. There, in the midst of it, was Jim and Judi Hall's Italianesque villa, surrounded by colorful gardens without a single pine tree to obscure the breathtaking view. As we approached their house, Jim and Judi came out with their big dog to greet us. We turned in through their gate and all spontaneously decided to stroll together down the hill to see the old place where Gerald had grown up. The memories flowed as we came back up the hill together and stayed to chat awhile over iced tea. No one even noticed that George's speech was flowing as clearly as the Conhocton in spring...
With a start, I came to my normal senses again. Could something like this ever really happen? It could, but it would be a miracle. I began to ask, how could we help bring something like this about, and this is the answer I received:
If each one of us, in the privacy of our own lives, would quietly take stock before our Maker and then respond as Zacchaeus did many long years ago. "Lord, have my family and I neglected You and your teachings? I'm sorry, please forgive me. Am I holding money in my hand or spending money in my mind that doesn't really belong to me? I'll let go and give it back. Have I offended my neighbor in any way? I'm going to go to him and make it right. What can I do next? When I wake up every morning I'm going to ask earnestly and then say YES! only to You."
May God bless you with His resurrection power this Easter!
When the Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthian Church millenia ago he compared and contrasted two approaches to life - trying to live according the letter of the law or seeking to follow after its spirit or intent. In Paul's estimation, the first way led to death while the second led to life. Of course he was referring to the Biblical law, which is righteous in both its letter and intent, not to many of our human laws which are corrupt in both.
What law do we say we are following in Cohocton? When it comes to windmills, the law cited is Local Law #2 (LL#2), enacted by our Town Board in late 2006. Serious questions have been raised about its "letter", which UPC Wind and its supporters are using as their guide. But what about the spirit or intent of this Law? According to a recent NY Department of State publication about the functions of a Zoning Board of Appeals,
A zoning law is a community's guide to its future development. That is its purpose. It is not meant to be just another governmental intrusion, another bit of red tape to be untangled before the property owner can go ahead with his plans. The protections afforded residents and property owners within the community from undesirable development come from the restrictiveness of zoning. Traditionally, zoning is characterized by pre-set regulations contained in the ordinance or local law, and applicable uniformly within each district. A landowner can look at the zoning map and regulations and know that if he follows them, he has a right to use his land in a certain way, and that neighboring property is subject to the same restrictions. But, because all land in the district is subject to the same rules, and because no two parcels of land are precisely the same, problems can arise.
Can a landowner do anything they wish on their own land? Not if the very purpose of zoning is respected. Was LL#2 written with the proper intent in mind? Patently not. The clear purpose of LL#2 was to permit and promote a preconceived wind power project that was already nearly fully developed by UPC Wind well prior to the enactment of the law. Setting aside the provisions of Cohocton's master zoning plan, our Town leaders passed a law with setbacks that were obviously designed to accommodate the desires of a specific developer, not to protect the legitimate interests of surrounding landowners.
Thus, while following the letter of LL#2 will definitely lead to contention and loss of community life, even following the spirit of laws like this won't produce a good result. Want to drive one of your town's judges to curse his neighbors at a public meeting? Just pass an unrighteous law and then rile your community up by riding it into the ground. If you want to make sure you get bad results, mix in some political manipulation that actually twists and breaks other laws along the way and then challenge your fellow-citizens to bring you to court. Brothers and sisters, there must be a better way.
Last night the Cohocton Planning Board hosted its second public meeting to air community concerns about proposed turbine site placement, but this week their format was different. Held in the larger Hatch Fire Hall in Atlanta, comments were limited to 3 minutes per speaker, which caused a great deal of frustration on the part of effectively silenced neighboring landowners. In addition, leaseholders, who are obviously in total support of the project and had nothing new to add that the Planning Board had not already heard, were allowed to speak. The evening became contentious, but the Planning Board was able to wrap up their pro-forma deliberations in an hour, instead of the 2 hours that had been set aside for the meeting. This is apparently "public input" under UPC Wind's new Cohocton administration.
What became clear at this meeting is that leaseholders and their supporters don't care what their neighbors think or how they feel about the project: as Councilman Wayne Hunt explained, it's going full-speed ahead unless the Town Board receives a court injuction to stop it.
What became clear to me personally as a neighboring landowner is that UPC and its supporters are seriously planning to engage in corporate trespassing on an enormous scale. By siting their turbines within 1500 feet of non-project land they will be effectively spreading noise pollution over properties that people have purchased expressly for their peace and quiet. Similarly, by allowing the ill-conceived 1500-foot perimeter of Windmill Law #2 to overlap neighboring land, they are limiting the safe and undisturbed use that landowners in Cohocton should have guaranteed to them by proper zoning ordinances.
There are so many things wrong with the way this entire project is being handled that it should rightly be rejected on its demerits alone. Some day enough good people will come to their senses and recognize this, hopefully sooner rather than later.
Last week the public unveiling began. The Cohocton Planning Board hosted the first of several "Special Meetings" for the preliminary review of UPC Wind's site plans for its proposed turbine towers. UPC was there in force with its diagrams, legal counsel, public relations people, and local supporters in green YES! shirts. But neighbors whose property lines adjoin the 12 proposed tower sites being considered were there in large numbers also and had a lot to say.
What was the tenor and gist of the evening? Read our article in this week's Valley News, check our Community Calendar for dates, and then come out to some of Cohocton's public meetings and see for yourself what's happening.
SEEKING GOD …for Christ to visit our communities
We confess that we have pursued great projects, attempting grand plans which leave little place for Jesus. Like derelict buildings, abandoned though only partly complete, many of our greatest ambitions lie empty and unfinished. Endeavors which once aroused passion have slowly fizzled. We have become skeptics, quietly dismissing Your kingdom promises as impossible utopian fantasies.
And so it was on Palm Sunday. The people had almost given up. The best thing many could imagine was a regime change. How You surprised them. You did not repair the old or defend what had been downtrodden. You exalted the One who had been dismissed. The One who had been rejected, denied and overlooked - this is the One You brought back and put on display.
Some still refused Him, but no one ignored Him. And so we pray for our community. Bring a day when every eye beholds Him, even those who have overlooked or opposed Him.
Click here to read the entire Meditation. God bless you!