Ben Buchwalter


Ken Salazar’s Cape Wind Dilemma
February 17, 2010, 10:58 pm
Filed under: change.org, energy, Environment | Tags: , , , , ,

That’s some unique NIMBYism. The Cape Wind project, a proposed renewable energy facility off of Massachusetts’ Nantucket Sound, hit an unusual snag when the Mashpee and Wampanoag Native Americans opposed the site because it blocked their view of the sunrise, an important part of a daily ritual. The facility, which was also opposed by the late Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass) and the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, presents an important dilemma for Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. I summed up the dilemma for change.org.

Setting aside the merits and drawbacks of Cape Wind, killing the project would be a major victory for NIMBY politics over clean renewable energy sources like wind and solar. Sure, it’s easy to support renewable energy in the abstract. But when your sunrise or porch’s mountainous view is obstructed by a hulking white wind mill? Forget about it, some say. But spiking Cape Wind would not eliminate the NIMBY headache that has plagued the project since its inception. It would only add fire to anti-wind movements at other proposed locations.

Secretary Salazar has asked for a final round of public comments to help parse that complexity. But depending on what he decides in April, Cape Wind will either be a historic victory for wind power, or put wind in the sails of NIMBY-ists everywhere.



Will Brazil’s New Dam Displace Indigenous People?
February 17, 2010, 10:44 pm
Filed under: energy, Environment, Mother Jones | Tags: , ,

Earlier this month, the Brazilian government announced that it would move forward with the controversial Belo Monte hydroelectric dam in the Amazon. Current estimates indicate that the dam will flood 100 square miles of Brazil’s rain forest and cost $17 billion. But critics, including pop star Sting, have warned that the dam could have an even larger negative impact on the area:

Some anti-dam activists have worried that, in addition to harming their forests, the project could displace indigenous populations. Minc rejects these concerns. “Not a single Indian will be displaced,” he said. “They will be indirectly affected, but they will not have to leave indigenous lands.”

The claim sounds reassuring, but it’s difficult to take at face value since the Brazilian government has made a practice of moving indigenous people off their land in the name of conservation. As Mark Schapiro reports for Mother Jones, the Brazilian “green police” is feared for displacing the Guarani Indians as part of their conservation strategy in the Guaraquecaba Environmental Protection Area, a 50,000 acre rain forest funded by General Motors, Chevron, and American Electric Power.