There’s a recently posted article on the Washington Post about how $2 billion of the stimulus money the Obama Administration doled out avoided review under the National Environmental Policy Act, which basically means they avoided having to get a lengthy Environmental Impact Statement(EIS). Now, if this money was given out to projects with a net negative impact on pollution and the environment, I would join in on the criticism, but give me a break! Just looking at the examples the Washington Post uses makes it crystal clear to me why these projects received exemptions. They list a smart-grid update, a wind farm project, a biofuel from algae project. All are the kinds of projects we need to be investing in to reduce our impact on the environment. We need a trillion more dollars for projects like these, and we need them fast not just because of jobs, but because the world needs to deploy a massive amount of clean energy technology in order to avoid catastrophic global warming. The Obama Administration sums it up well…
“Administration officials say the exemptions were essential to accelerate more than $30 billion in stimulus-funded clean-energy projects through the Energy Department, which already have created 35,000 jobs. In the long run, they add, the exempted activities will boost energy efficiency and curb pollution.“
It makes complete sense to me that there should be different environmental standards for a wind farm than a coal plant.
The other minor-story the Post reports on is that some of the companies doing these green projects and received these exemptions aren’t exactly saints in the environmental arena. Now, if I were the guy in chance doling out grants for projects, I would choose a company with a clean record over one with a dirty one, but the unfortunate reality is that most of these companies have dirty records. Find me a green oil company that I can give an algae biofuel grant for. There are none! I should add that I ultimately want the dirty companies to start doing clean energy projects. That’s what environmental activists rightfully spend a lot of time doing, protesting dirty investments by corporations while pressuring them to make clean ones. So if Duke Energy has a history of building coal plants, and it decides it wants to build a wind farm, I’m not going to throw a fit! Heck, I’ll tell them to build two.
What we don’t need is more hyped up negative stories to the public about how clean energy projects are dodging environmental regulations intended for dirty ones.