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April 19, 2006
NIMBYs, BANANAs, And Applebaum

Anne Applebaum writes a must-read column in today's Washington Post about modern-day Luddites and the impact they have on energy production in the US. As gasoline nears $3 per gallon again just in time for the summer driving season, one would expect environmentalists and proponents of renewable energy to take advantage of the economics and push for new power production facilities to demonstrate their worth. However, as Applebaum notes, a more sinister force than NIMBYism has throttled the entire field for decades:

The problem plaguing new energy developments is no longer NIMBYism, the "Not-In-My-Back-Yard" movement. The problem now, as one wind-power executive puts it, is BANANAism: "Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anything." The anti-wind brigade, fierce though it is, pales beside the opposition to liquid natural gas terminals, and would fade entirely beside the mass movement that will oppose a new nuclear power plant. Indeed, the founders of Cape Wind say they embarked on the project in part because public antipathy prevents most other utility investments in New England.

Still, energy projects don't even have to be viable to spark opposition: Already, there are activists gearing up to fight the nascent biofuel industry, on the grounds that fields of switch grass or cornstalks needed to produce ethanol will replace rainforests and bucolic country landscapes. Soon the nonexistent "hydrogen economy" will doubtless be under attack as well. There's a lot of earnest, even bipartisan talk nowadays about the need for clean, emissions-free energy. But are we really ready, politically, to build any new energy sources at all?

Applebaum asks this question after a series of windmill projects have been torpedoed by the same environmental activists that decry carbon-based emissions, global warming, and the reliance on foreign oil. The Cape Windmill project, which would take advantage of the only possible area on the New England coastline for wind energy production, has come under attack from wealthy Nantucket residents and politicos such as Ted Kennedy. In West Virginia, activists saved a strip mine from being disfigured by the sight of windmills, a rare multilayered irony born of hypocrisy.

Applebaum has pegged the environmental lobby beautifully in the BANANA acronym. They have come up with excuses to throttle energy production for decades, and we now face an across-the-board energy crisis because of them. We have not built a new oil refinery in this nation in 30 years, relying on peak capacity at all existing refineries to keep up with demand. Katrina and Rita showed us the folly of that strategy, and the next refinery disaster might just bring on rationing instead of mere high prices. Nuclear energy has been mothballed since Three Mile Island. Even the supposedly environmentally safe methods will probably never see full-scale production while the EPA impact reports can get gamed by the environmental lobby and local real-estate interests.

If we want energy independence, then we need to have a system which allows for increased domestic production of all energy sources. It should start by removing the handcuffs from domestic oil production to lower the price of energy and to reduce our immediate dependence on foreign sources, along with increased refining capacity through federal licensing of a number of new refineries. The second phase should see the construction of renewable-energy production facilities, including windmill farms like Cape Wind. We have spent the last three decades in paralysis due to the attention paid to Luddites who have no interest in any kind of energy production. Let's stop this insanity and start focusing on providing for the energy resources we need.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at April 19, 2006 6:35 AM

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» The Perfect Swarm from Big Lizards
Captain Ed has up a fascinating post on an issue near and dear to our reptillian hearts: the future of energy production. The good captain quotes from an article by Anne Applebaum at the WaPo, as we in “the business”... [Read More]

Tracked on April 19, 2006 7:23 PM


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