Leonardo"s Notebook by Mattheus Mei

I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

I'm not the only one upset

with the lack of political vision and innovation with my home state..... full text of an opinion piece from today's The State.

Lacking vision on energy
By ELLIE VENO - Guest columnist
Our publicly owned utility, Santee Cooper, is proposing to build a 1,320-megawatt pulverized coal plant in rural Florence County on the banks of the Great Pee Dee River. In exchange for having thousands of tons of toxic pollutants pumped into their air and water every year, citizens in this poor, rural area will supply cheap electricity to coastal properties in Horry and Georgetown counties.

The worst part is, we do not need this plant. By investing in efficiency and conservation we can meet growing demand. Our state’s lack of vision on energy, whether at the federal, state or local level, is a grim reminder that South Carolina is still wandering lost in the energy dark ages.

Sixteen states have passed legislation promoting renewable electricity, including two in the South. In 1999, Texas mandated that 2,000 megawatts of new capacity come from renewable resources by 2009. And last year North Carolina required that its utilities get 12.5 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2021.

Where is South Carolina in the new energy future?

At the federal level, when senators sought to amend the most recent Senate energy bill to require utilities to get 15 percent of their energy from renewable resources by the year 2020, Southern senators, including our own Lindsey Graham and Jim DeMint, made up half of the “no” votes, thereby killing the effort.

The House energy bill does include a Renewable Electricity Standard of 15 percent by 2020, which originally appeared as an amendment by Rep. Mark Udall. While Reps. James Clyburn, Bob Inglis and John Spratt did vote in favor of the final bill, how did they and the rest of the South Carolina delegation, Gresham Barrett, Henry Brown and Joe Wilson, vote on the Udall amendment? The vote was unanimous: all against it.
I’m thankful the measure passed despite their opposition.

Caving to pressure from utility companies, they and others argued that the South is not a favorable location for renewable energy on the grounds that solar and wind power are more advantageous in the West.
Science says otherwise. Several studies show that South Carolina has great potential in biomass, offshore wind energy and solar power. The problem is that South Carolina has become dependent on dirty coal, which we import from other states in exchange for our ratepayer dollars. South Carolina politicians, in turn, have become dependent on campaign contributions from utilities and the coal industry.

It is worth noting that to date, neither state Sen. Hugh Leatherman (R) nor any of the House members representing Florence County — Terry Alexander (D), Lester Branham (D), Kris Krawford (R), Philip Lowe (R) or Robert Williams (D) — have asked questions publicly about Santee Cooper’s proposal, much less opposed it. Indeed, none of them attended the Army Corps of Engineer “scooping” meetings held recently in Florence and Conway.

On an issue that is central to the future of the region they represent, their absence showed a disappointing lack of leadership.

It seems neither state politicians nor their industry supporters have an interest in phasing out this 19th century energy source, even when promoting conservation, efficiency and renewables would boost our local, homegrown energy producers and be better for our public health.

And to find gubernatorial leadership on efficiency and conservation anywhere in the Southeast, one must look to faraway Florida. Florida Gov. Charlie Crist recently helped block a proposed coal plant in that state and is promoting efficiency and conservation to meet his state’s energy needs.

Will Gov. Mark Sanford weigh in on the Kingsburg plant? Considering our governor’s public statements about climate change and the need to preserve South Carolina’s natural heritage, he has a clear duty to.

Ms. Veno is an intern with the Conservation Voters of South Carolina and lives in Charleston.

Sphere: Related Content

No comments: