Cape Wind Associates' plan to build a big wind-power farm off the coast of Cape Cod has been dividing enviros for years, but the disagreement got a lot more heated last month when Robert F. Kennedy Jr. ran a high-profile op-ed railing against the project in The New York Times. An excerpt: These turbines are less than six miles from shore and would be seen from Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket. Hundreds of flashing lights to warn airplanes away from the turbines will steal the stars and nighttime views. The noise of the turbines will be audible onshore. A transformer substation rising 100 feet above the sound would house giant helicopter pads and 40,000 gallons of potentially hazardous oil. According to the Massachusetts Historical Commission, the project will damage the views from 16 historic sites and lighthouses on the cape and nearby islands. The Humane Society estimates the whirling turbines could every year kill thousands of migrating songbirds and sea ducks. That didn't sit so well with many enviros who see climate change as the big environmental issue and therefore think renewable-energy projects should be welcomed in all our backyards. More than 150 green leaders and activists this week sent a letter to Kennedy asking him to reconsider. Word is Kennedy said he'll meet with them to discuss. We'll keep you posted. Meantime, here's the letter:
Early this morning, the House passed a highly contentious budget reconciliation bill; it remained stripped of provisions that would allow drilling in the Arctic Refuge and new oil exploration in offshore areas, but it still contained the much-fretted-over "mining reform" provision that would sell off millions of acres of public land at fire-sale prices, as described in detail by Amanda Griscom Little yesterday. The Senate passed its version of the bill earlier this month -- it does call for drilling the refuge and offshore areas, but doesn't call for a sell-off of mining lands. Now we'll have to wait and see how a compromise version shakes out during negotiations in House-Senate conference committee. Bets, anyone?
So go recycle something.
From Tim Iacono, some delightful on-the-ground investigative blogging about a Hummer dealership in Southern California trying to hide massive amounts of overstock. Tim and his pals got a tip about a nervous dealer who "had begun storing his Hummer inventory at an undisclosed location, far from the dealer showroom so as not to spook jittery, prospective buyers with the mounting number of unsold H2s and H3s." They started snooping around and ended up snapping photos of row upon row upon row of unwanted gas-guzzling Dweeb-mobiles. Quite amusing.
Plans to drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge were dropped from the House budget reconcilation bill tonight. Credit goes to GOP Rep. Charles Bass of New Hampshire and 24 fellow Republicans who threatened to vote against the bill unless the drilling provisions was dropped. It's not the end of the battle -- efforts are surely underway already to get the language back in -- but it's a surprising show of strength by refuge defenders. And yet another blow to poor, beleaguered Bush.
Or so argues a new book by Stephenie Hendricks -- Divine Destruction: Wise Use, Dominion Theology, and the Making of American Environmental Policy, excerpted in the latest Seattle Weekly. Nut 'graph from the excerpt: [T]he widespread acceptance of anti-environmental thinking in the guise of Wise Use is made more troubling in that there are increasingly close ties between those who subscribe to the ideas of Wise Use and members of fundamentalist Christian churches and organizations. The Wise Use movement's influence over religious conservatives thus mirrors the traditional relationship between religious and political conservatives in that Wise Use advocates are increasingly adapting their own agenda to include the concerns of religious voters. In so doing, they have gained an army of God to promote their own agenda.
The Senate today voted to allow oil exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. (Yes, yes, we know you've heard that before, but this vote means drilling really is closer to reality than ever before. Really.) Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell of Washington state led the fight to protect the refuge, offering an amendment that would have stripped from a budget bill a provision that calls for drilling. Her amendment was voted down, 48 to 51. See how your senator voted. (A "Yea" vote is a vote to protect the Arctic Refuge.)
Power players in the U.S. are finally sitting up and taking note of climate change. But don't get hopeful just yet. They're not leaping to figure out how to retool our industrial system and stave off disaster. Rather, they're calculating which islands will make the best vacation getaways for the rich and famous in a globally warmed world. Yes, The Wall Street Journal has helpfully published "The Global Climate-Change Island Guide" [subscribers only, alas], informed by the new "Dow Jones Island Index" [PDF; should work even for non-subscribers], which analyzes "12 factors that reflect a range of environmental risks that islands and island tourists face." Of 40 islands examined, the top ranked for your continued vacation pleasure is Prince Edward Island off Canada's east coast. Of course, the average temperature in December is 24 degrees Fahrenheit, but maybe a little more warming will nudge that number up to a more comfortable range. Elites will be more happy to see that Martha's Vineyard ranks second on the list. Also scoring reasonably well: the Florida Keys, Grand Cayman Island, and Crete. Steer clear of Sri Lanka, though, which bottoms out the list. Other islands you might want to avoid: the Dominican Republic, Cuba, and Fiji. Book those plane tickets and buy those third homes now, folks, before the plebs get ahold of this valuable data!
Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper has gone one better than those governors who've been feeling so smug about giving up their SUVs. He's tooling around town on a Vespa.