Tag Archives: green

Green from the Grassroots —Elinor Ostrom

On the day she died, Nobel Prize-winning economist Elinor Ostrom published her last article, in Project Syndicate, 12 June 2012, Green from the Grassroots,

This grassroots diversity in “green policymaking” makes economic sense. “Sustainable cities” attract the creative, educated people who want to live in a pollution-free, modern urban environment that suits their lifestyles. This is where future growth lies. Like upgrading a mobile phone, when people see the benefits, they will discard old models in a flash.

Of course, true sustainability goes further than pollution control. City planners must look beyond municipal limits and analyze flows of resources — energy, food, water, and people into and out of their cities.

Worldwide, we are seeing a heterogeneous collection of cities interacting in a way that could have far-reaching influence on how Earth's entire life-support system evolves. These cities are learning from one another, building on good ideas and jettisoning poorer ones. Los Angeles took decades to implement pollution controls, but other cities, like Beijing, converted rapidly when they saw the benefits. In the coming decades, we may see a global system of interconnected sustainable cities emerging. If successful, everyone will want to join the club.

And counties, and regions, and watersheds, of course. As Mayor Julian Castro of San Antonio said, there is a "nexus between sustainability and job creation." We don't have to wait for San Antonio or Los Angeles or Beijing or Atlanta to lead the way: we can get on with it right here where we are.

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India baseload power grid failure

Last month the U.S. grid failed due to heat wave demand, this month, it’s India’s grid. There are several common features: coal, baseload, outdated grid, and distributed renewable energy through a smart grid as the solution.

SFGate quoting NY Times, yesterday, India grid failure causes power blackout,

The Ministry of Power was investigating the cause, but officials suggested that part of the problem was probably excessive demand during the torrid summer.

Same as in the U.S. grid failure. Except India did it bigger, according to the Economic Times of India today,

The blackout which has left 600 million people without electricity in one of the world’s most widespread power failures.

Yet officials are in denial, according to the SFGate story:

“This is a one-off situation,” said Ajai Nirula, the chief operating officer of North Delhi Power Limited, which distributes power to nearly 1.2 million people in the region. “Everyone was surprised.”

Well, they shouldn’t be, if they were watching what happened in the U.S. And India gets most of its electricity from coal, whose CO2 emissions contribute to climate change, producing ever-hotter summers. Just like in the U.S.

The story includes a clue to the solution:

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“Using words like green, renewable, etc. does not magically make it so.” –Russ Anderson

Following up on his previous correspondence. -jsq

From: Russ Anderson
Date: Mon, 31 Jan 2011 16:20:24 -0500
Subject: Re: Attn: Clarifications on my comments
To: blofton@industrialauthority.com, info@sterlingplanet.com, bmaddox@sterlingplanet.com

Brad,

I’m not saying the project is good, responsible, that it will actually happen, and def. not that you are in any way right in your opinions of “green” and “renewable”.

Furthermore, I really wish you could get beyond the talking point of “the agencies and groups endorsing similar projects”, because again that is a highly contestable and skewed figure as many local, regional, and national agencies, groups, and networks still voice heavy opposition to this issue and biomass incineration.

Using words like green, renewable, etc. does not magically make it so. I know all about framing language and tactics of those wishing to line their pockets and exploit subsidy and tax loopholes. The simple fact that you are so set in your opinion and mentality is quite alarming..

For example, I am more than willing to embrace control technologies and

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Videos of pro and con biomass speakers at VBOE

Karen Noll took these videos at the 29 September 2010 meeting of the Valdosta Board of Education (VBOE). Much more about that meeting here.

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Dr. Gretchen Bielmyer speaking against the biomass plant.
Dr. Brad Bergstrom speaking against the biomass plant.
Brad Lofton and Allan Ricketts speaking for the Valdosta-Lowndes County Industrial Authority (VLCIA) and the biomass plant.

Michael Noll: “enough is enough”

Here is a followup to the VDT story in the previous post.

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Dear Lowndes County Commissioners.

My sincere thanks for letting me present my concerns at yesterday’s meeting. It is very much appreciated.

Please understand that what I presented is based on facts. I have worked for ten years at VSU as an educator, and my students and colleagues know me as a straightforward person. I may ruffle some feathers at times, but I clearly was brought up in a no-nonsense household.

If Mr. Lofton would not continue to ignore our concerns (as he again did at the BOE meeting), to misrepresent organizations such as the Sierra Club (an organization I happen to support), or to keep bringing up names of those who endorse the biomass plant (yet conveniently overlooks a conflict of interest), I  probably would have never brought this up. However, during these past couple weeks, and particularly with his behavior at the BOE meeting, Mr. Lofton has added insult to injury, and enough is enough.

To substantiate the comments I made yesterday,

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Biomass Rezoning Minutes, County Commission, 9 June 2009

In the message from Prof. Manning, he says
I did address the county commission on this topic over a year ago – in a public forum at a scheduled meeting.
He provided no date nor link, but since this is the only Commission meeting minutes for which I can find his name, I’m guessing this is the one he meant. I’ve quoted here the relevant item, and I’ve added paragraph breaks to it to make finding individual speakers’ names easier. See also the VDT writeup. I would like to ask people, especially academics, who want to cite sources to actually cite them, not allude to them by some vague description.

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LOWNDES COUNTY BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS
MINUTES
Regular Session
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
COMMISSIONERS PRESENT
Chairman Ashley Paulk
Vice Chairperson Joyce E. Evans
Commissioner Richard C. Lee
Commissioner G. Robert Carter
Chairman Paulk called the meeting to order at 5:30 p.m.

[…]

REZ-2009-05 Wiregrass Power, LLC, 2637 Old Statenville Hwy, 0164 025. 22.1 ac., E-A to I-S,

County Planner, Jason Davenport, presented the item, stating that both the Planning Commission and TRC recommended approval with conditions.

Chairman Paulk asked those in attendance to be patient with the Commission as the item was considered, since it was an issue that many in attendance may want to speak.

Dr. Michael Noll, 2305 Glynndale Drive, spoke against the request and presented the Commission with a list of questions prepared by himself, Dr. Brad Bergstrom and Mr. Seth Gunning.

Mr. Fred Deloach III, 1411 New Statenville Highway, addressed the Commission requesting that tires and coal be added to the list of prohibited fuel items.

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Thomas J. Manning Responds

Brad Lofton sent me this today.

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From: “Brad Lofton”
Date: Thu, 30 Sep 2010 11:54:58 -0400

John:

Thank you for providing my correspondence on your blog. Here is an e-mail below from VSU professor Tom Manning who has experience in biomass research and instruction. He has supported our project enthusiastically from the beginning. I would appreciate you including this as well.

Regards,

BL

From: Thomas J Manning [mailto:tmanning@valdosta.edu]
Sent: Thursday, September 30, 2010 11:37 AM
To: ‘Bradley J Bergstrom’
Cc: ‘ReplyTo:’; ‘Cc: Allan Ricketts’
Subject: FW: Thank you to the Valdosta Board of Education

Dr. Bergstrom,

I believe you are playing a game of semantics with your disparaging argument concerning my qualifications (quote below). Some key points:

1. I did address the county commission on this topic over a year ago – in a public forum at a scheduled meeting.
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Joy Towles Ezell: Florida Sierra Club biomass policy

A Sierra Club reply to Brad Lofton, copied to the Valdosta Board of Education and others.

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From: Joy Towles Ezell
Date: Wed, 29 Sep 2010 20:27:54 -0700 (PDT)

As the former Conservation Chair and the former Energy Chair of the Florida Chapter of the Sierra Club, and as the former Energy Chair of the Big Bend Group of the Florida Chapter, I must “set the record straight”. Today’s National Sierra Club policy is not as strong as the Florida Chapter’s policy was against burning biomass. I can speak only to Florida’s SC policy, so I submit to you the policies of the Florida Chapter and the Big Bend Group concerning the burning of biomass during my tenure, with our press release concerning the now defeated biomass plant in Tallahassee:

The < ?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Florida Chapter Policies were also published, in part, in The Pelican, Spring 2004, the official Florida Chapter newsletter.< ?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />

Here is the Chapter policy on ‘biomass.’

Florida Chapter Sierra Club policy opposes biomass production:

“We continue to oppose the development of biomass production as an
alternative to solar and wind power. Biomass production depletes the
environment by decreasing topsoil, using more water, fertilizer and
diesel fuel than it is worth and creates more pollution.”
Page 8. http://florida.sierraclub.org/Pelican/spring04.pdf


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Brad Bergstrom: “unnecessary and very sad”

A reply to Brad Lofton and Michael Noll, copied to the Valdosta Board of Education and others.

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Date: Wed, 29 Sep 2010 21:25:37 -0400

As Dr. Noll said, you do indeed have a reading comprehension problem, Mr. Lofton.  I most decidedly did not "discredit" my colleague; I said his opinion was just as valid as mine.  I discredited you, sir!  I replied to your, frankly, absurb misstatements with some documented facts, even the statistics made publicly available by the EPD.  And once again you respond with nothing but more unsubstantiated assertions.

As to your insinuations of my alleged "unilateral" opposition to some unnamed industry, I have no idea what you're talking about.  I think you are grasping at straws.  Your unsubstantiated assertions have now strayed into personal accusations and rumor mongering.  That’s completely unnecessary and very sad.

Brad Bergstrom

Michael Noll: “from the Sierra Club directly”

This message from Michael Noll was sent to the Valdosta Board of Education, among others. The interjections in square brackets [] where there when I received it.

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Date: Wed, 29 Sep 2010 20:41:26 -0400

Mr. Lofton.

Although your email seems to be addressed to Dr. Bergstrom, the nonsense in it warrants a short reply, before I will go home and enjoy an evening meal:

1) I am not sure how you did in terms of reading comprehension in school, but the fact is Dr. Bergstrom wrote:

"… even those groups that jumped on the biomass bandwagon early–like Sierra Club–are having serious second thoughts."
To further elaborate, let me share some comments I got from the Sierra Club directly in response to an email I sent to inquire about their position on biomass:
"The [Sierra] Club absolutely opposes all combustion of Municipal Waste, sorted or not [referring to the burning of sewage sludge in the proposed biomass incinerator] …. We believe that biomass projects can be sustainable, but that many biomass projects are not. We are not confident that massive new biomass energy resources are available without risking soil and forest health, given the lack of commitment by governments and industry to preservation, restoration, and conservation of natural resources …. Biomass incineration advocates [like yourself Mr. Lofton] have been misrepresenting the [Sierra] Club for a long time on this." (Ned Ford, Sierra Club, Chair of the Energy Technical Advisory Committee, August 18, 2010.
In other words, your project does NOT have the (automatic) support

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