Wednesday, October 23, 2013


Today the EPA held Listening Sessions here in Manhattan.  Members of the public were invited to express their thoughts and concerns regarding regulations on existing coal-fired power plant emissions the EPA is going to propose in June of 2014.

You had to sign up to speak, and they gave you three minutes.

My say so went something like this:
We are revelers out at a fine restaurant, enjoying every delicacy of nature, but when the bill arrives, each of us turns and looks the other way.  We don't want to pick up our tab.

We're happily determined to use as much energy as we can to satiate, enrich and insulate ourselves from the rigors of nature, as long as we can ignore the cost.  The Obama Administration's pollution standards for existing power plants are inadequate.  And it is no longer reasonable for people to tolerate the large scale burning of coal and other fossil fuels for any purpose.

We need a big carbon tax.  
As long as we don't see the gutted mountain ranges, the smothered valleys and toxic streams and rivers, we play on in our dream of profit and prosperity.
As long as we don't see or smell the billowing smoke, the declining species of birds and wildlife, the climate devastation of drought and forest fire--as long as we don't see the cancer and asthma--we can turn on our electronic entertainment, our computers, our air conditioners with a carefree push on the on/off button.

I've grown up in a society believing progress is any and all economic growth, and cheap energy consumption fuels this delusion of progress.  But this concept is fatally flawed.  We are not only committing mass suicide, but we're perpetrating a mass extinction upon this entire planet right now.  We've burned a trillion tons of coal out of the ground, and we've put so much CO2 into the atmosphere,  the world is saturated.

Forty years ago we knew it was time to scale down our energy consumption and taper off of fossil fuels.  Remember?

What happened in the interim?  The fossil fuel industrialists hijacked our government, including our energy policy, and subordinated everything on earth underneath the economic principles of unrestrained growth and unlimited consumption.  And this is the end.  It's too late for coal now.

This August it rained three days in a row in Ulster county, and on the fourth day the ground in my yard was so hard and dry, it seemed like a place where it hadn't rained in weeks.  We passed 400 parts per million CO2 this summer.  The hell with money and energy, as human beings our first responsibility is to safeguard this planet, or do we think some other species is going to do that for us?

The increasing desperation of wildlife facing extinction far outweighs the cost to humans of energy conservation.

Please exercise common sense restraint and get us off coal now.  The cost to the environment is the bill we must pay, and it's already much higher than we can afford.  Conserve.  Conserve energy.   A future is now the price of coal and fossil fuel generated electricity.
About 50 people spoke.  The Administrators were very receptive to the audience and really extended the sense of inclusion in the policy formation process.

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