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This weekly newsletter, focused on environmental issues,
highlights relevant analysis done by the John Locke Foundation and other think
tanks, as well as items in the news.
1. Perdue pressures
utilities to buy wind power from Spanish company
The Civitas Institute features an excellent article today exposing an apparent
campaign by North Carolina's Governor Beverly Perdue to pressure Duke Power,
Dominion Power, and Progress Energy to
agree to buy wind-generated electricity that they have already determined
to be too expensive and turned down. The issue involves a proposed industrial
wind turbine power plant to be built by a Spanish company, Iberdrola
Renewables, near Elizabeth City. The company will be receiving $200 million in
federal subsidies plus additional subsidies from the state of North Carolina.
The only hitch is that the project needs customers, and Iberdrola won't start
the project unless the state utilities agree to buy their electricity. Since
North Carolina passed its renewable portfolio standard in 2007 (SB3), which
forces the utilities to provide 7.5 percent of their electricity from renewable
sources (and for electricity customers to pay for it), this deal should be a
slam dunk for Iberdrola. Apparently the prices Iberdrola wants to charge are
out of line with even the typically outrageous costs of wind power.
As Brian Balfour of Civitas explains:
... in order for the new Desert
Wind Power Project to be a "long-term success," Iberdrola is counting
on a $200 million federal subsidy to help finance the $600 million project. In
order to be eligible for this handout, Iberdrola needs to begin work on the
project before the end of this calendar year. Without an agreement from a large
utility company to purchase the energy generated by the wind farm, however,
Iberdrola will not proceed with construction.
When the state's utilities turned down their offer as being
too expensive, Gov. Perdue inserted herself into the process -- not on the side
of lower rates and North Carolina's utility customers, but on the side of the
Spanish corporation (the one percent, if you will). In a letter to the utilities,
Perdue states "I urge you to give serious consideration to partnering with
Iberdrola Renewables to make the Project a reality."
Apparently, there has not been a similar letter sent to Iberdrola suggesting
that they charge the utilities a more reasonable rate for their electricity in
order to strike an agreement.
For more details on the inefficiencies and environmental harms associated with
wind power, be sure to watch this
video of the wind power workshop sponsored by the John Locke Foundation
earlier this month in Wilmington.
2. Kudos to Canada
Canada is the first country to kiss the Kyoto Protocol on climate change
goodbye. As noted
by India Today, Canada's
withdrawal "has happened within days of the world reaching an agreement at
the Durban climate conference on the extension of the Kyoto Protocol,"
which has "dealt a blow to the Durban deal."
Peter Kent, the Canadian environmental minister, stated that "it's now
clear that Kyoto is not the path forward to a global solution to climate
change. If anything it's an impediment." One of the reasons Kent cited is
that neither the U.S. nor China is part of the agreement. The United State's
involvement in the treaty was squelched back in 1997, when the U.S. Senate
voted almost unanimously to reject the treaty.
3. Has the EPA rigged
a "fracking" study to show dangers where none exist?
Such is the claim in a Fiscal
... the EPA says tests
it conducted in Pavillion, Wyoming "indicate that ground water in the
aquifer contains compounds likely associated with gas production practices,
including hydraulic fracturing." However, it turns out that the EPA
drilled two monitoring wells to some 900 feet -- much deeper than water wells
which are usually at about 300 feet -- and indeed found hydrocarbons. In short,
they drilled into the natural gas reservoir.
This will be an important story to follow given that North
Carolina is considering the possibility of allowing the drilling for natural
gas using the "fracking" technique.
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