Clean energy and the current older stuff have a common foe: NIMBY (not in my back yard) and you have to wonder how it all plays out as the U.S. tries to diversify its power sources.
You can make the green tech energy argument all day yet it's unclear whether people want a solar grid, wind farm or nuclear plant in their back yards.
Let's connect a few green dots:
- Federal regulators in April approved the first offshore wind farm off the coast of Cape Cod, Mass. However, there was an intense fight against it. Why? It mars the natural beauty of the coast and some residents didn't want a bunch of wind turbines screwing up the view.
- President Obama talked up nuclear power in February. We asked whether a building boom was on the horizon. One of the biggest hurdles here: NIMBY. If there was a nuclear plant proposed near you what would your reaction be?
Other clean technologies can also become a NIMBY issue. It's not hard to see backlash against many projects ranging from solar to wind to whatever. One person's clean energy is another guy's eye sore.
And now let's look at the current energy needs. President Obama leaned a bit toward offshore drilling in April. And then there was the BP-Transocean Deepwater oil rig disaster, which is still filling the Gulf of Mexico up with oil. BusinessWeek looked at the issue this week and wondered if offshore drilling was worth it.
From the BusinessWeek report:
Until now, Gulf oil production has been not just expanding but reasonably clean, with serious spills so rare that industry and regulator alike behaved as if they were scarcely possible. Catastrophic accidents, it seemed, had been relegated to history by such high-tech gear as "blowout preventers" designed to shut off wells when pressures get out of control. These valves and shears were the last line of defense, a supposedly impenetrable Maginot Line that made other fail-safes unnecessary.
And now? Good luck building an offshore rig in the near future.
When you ask around, you could probably build NIMBY opposition to any energy plan---smart, clean, or not-so-clean. So if no one allows these energy plans---wind farms and natural gas plants in the Midwest---to carry on in their back yards how exactly are we going to meet our needs?
Unfortunately, I don't have the answers, but I'd love to hear a few smart suggestions.