Home Current News News Archive Shop/Advertise Ridecamp Classified Events Learn/AERC
Endurance.Net Home Ridecamp Archives
[Archives Index]   [Date Index]   [Thread Index]   [Author Index]   [Subject Index]

[RC] re: Bryce, industry and greenies OT - Mary Krauss

Regarding the proposed coal plant, I'm confused.  Are they proposing a mine be created within the borders of a designated wilderness area?  If not, what exactly is the complaint?  Is the coal unnecessary?  Can it be produced elsewhere?  

I don't know the particulars of this regional argument, but I am bothered when the automatic assumption is that industry is bad and the rest of us are good.  Last I checked we all drive pretty big gas guzzlers, feed our horses foods grown by big companies, and use computers that contain about a zillion toxic chemicals.  Yet we probably feel pretty good about our personal efforts, whatever they may be, whether that be to avoid flying, buy less stuff, recycle what we can, carpool, cut down on herbicides and pesticides, whatever.  We tend to want to enjoy the fruits of big businesses while holding our noses at the idea of the actual plants and processes of production.

Again, I don't know the particulars, and I'd like to.  Is this a "good" company historically?  A history of operators breaking laws?  Has the company's proposal passed all the requisite environmental hurdles?  The message writer hints that they got away with something sneaky.  What did they sneak through?  If they followed all our rules, are they bad guys or just people trying to be productive in their business?  If they followed all our rules, why do we think we should be able to stop them?

This reminds me of when a particular group came up with the term "Plume Blight" to describe their objection to our lumber mill's planned cogen plant. (Cogen plants are generally much welcomed by environmental groups as they help with fuel reduction in the forests, dry lumber in a green way, and generate power that goes back to the grid--all with almost zero emissions. They occupy a happy intersection of environmental and industrial concerns. In fact, we received a federal environmental grant to help fund building ours. )  A few people came up with this term "plume blight" for the notion that the steam from the plant might be visible from a corner of the 180,000 acre Kalmiopsis Wilderness Area.  They also determined (somehow) that an enormous number of trucks would descend upon the local community in the process of bringing fuel to the plant, that these trips would wreak havoc on the beauty of the area and drive down tourism.  The list of horrors was almost comical in retrospect, though we took it awfully seriously at the time because it all sounded so ominous.

Here's what happened:  The plant runs, it's created another set of jobs ("green" jobs at that!), it produces energy, it eats up detritus of the sort that added to the horror of the 2002 Biscuit Fire that burned the entire wilderness area.  There's no pollution, no traffic jams, no "plume blight", nada.  All good. 

I'm still puzzling over the concept of "plume blight" by the way.  That's an impressive use of semantics.  Are clouds "plume blights"?  If so, I like 'em.  Oh, and now I'm being a bit cheeky, I can't help wondering if a little plume blight to lower the odds of burning down the entire wilderness area again might be worth it.  Turns out the cogen plant doesn't produce blights of any kind, and now, instead of "raping the forest floor" we're finding we can't burn enough fuel to keep up with the forests' production of biomass, the new term for stuff that falls to the ground and stays there to act as tinder.  Perhaps other industries will rise up in once-thriving timber towns as cogeneration becomes more readily available as an energy source.  Wouldn't THAT be a happy marriage of humanity and nature!

(Oh, to make this endurance related, the Limestone Challenge runs through some of our timberlands as well as lands owned by my uncle.  The wonderful people who put on that ride get HUGE kudos for all the clean-up they do.  The area is becoming more and more run down as the local social structure based on the lumber industry has been hard-hit by mill closures over the past decades.  I think the race organizers hauled out about 50 bags of trash--at least that's what it looks like in the photo.  A few more rides and the place will be looking permanently spiffy again!)

BACK TO COAL:  I don't know a thing about coal plants, particularly coal plants that use modern methods.  I don't know if their industry has come as far as ours in terms of mitigating their environmental damage.  I do know however that automatic assumptions that the whole place will go to hell if this plant is allowed might be bogus.  

CAVEAT:  if they wrested permission in some clearly unethical way I'd suddenly be in the camp of the angered.  The only way for business and industry to progress is through open and transparent processes.  Having said that, I can't see how they can get away with much with current environmental laws.  Didn't practically the whole state of Utah get turned into preserved land in Clinton's last days??? 

Mary K.