Abortion ban has deeper meaning
The judicial decision of the Supreme Court on the issue of partial birth abortion needs to be considered from every angle.
First of all, it is not an infringement on women’s rights. It is a clarification on the rights of a woman’s child to live.
When the Supreme Court made a very questionable decision to allow abortion on the legal basis of “privacy,” it opened a door that should never have been opened in a nation like America. It twisted the meaning of the Constitution to mean that it was OK to kill a life to ensure the privacy of the person responsible for that life, the mother. She was given the right to kill it for any reason she chose.
That was a stretch of legal discernment when the Constitution exactly opposed such a thing. It openly and explicitly guaranteed life; it did not say anywhere in the Constitution or the Bill of Rights that although they guaranteed life they also allowed death to occur anywhere in their founding documents or even in their personal writings.
In other words, the basic premise of abortion is blatantly false, and from that basic false premise other false legal foundations have been built.
Here, we will examine only those dealing with abortion and other deprivations of life.
Forget your predisposition to the partial birth abortion (PBA) decision and with an open mind consider this: would you approve the killing of a little girl 1-year-old, if you do it in private?
That is merely a time extension of the same child that previously could be killed at moment of birth by PBA.
That idea is horrible to you, yet that law would have allowed it at birth only a year before on the same child. And there were corrupt federal judges who would say that it was OK even if a whole state had voted a ban on it Are you getting the picture?
A few Supreme Court judges and individual federal judges were opposing the majority of people in the United States on the entire issue of abortion and its awful follow-up consequences. The few were leading the majority into a really cruel path.
On that same path, consider the concept of embryonic stem cell research now currently being debated. Honestly, is there any difference between the darling 1-year-old child and the same child eights months before birth? The same embryo that produced the darling child is the same one that would never get to PBA because it was killed eight months sooner. Yet, there can be no argument that it is not the same darling child.
The only thing that separates these things is a few months between those stages of a child’s life.
And, if it is OK to kill the darling child at birth by PBA, what is the difference if we decide to kill her at age 75 if she is in pain and you want to relieve it by suicide, or at age 80 by a law that says seniors are too big a burden on the nation’s budget, so we put them all away at age 80.
It you think that is a crazy idea, think again; the idea has been under consideration by the same minds that thought that abortion was a “right,” the first attack on the concept of human life.
The important thing to keep in mind, brought there by the refreshingly honest decision of the Supreme Court, is that at last we are starting to get decisions that agree with almost every right-minded person today (who escaped embryonic, PBA, and abortion, assisted suicide, and euthanasia) that life is something no person is allowed to take away under the Constitution.
We have laws that allow death penalties for crime, but that is another situation, not based on a false idea of a woman’s rights to kill her child, her parent, her friend, or just anybody.
Whenever we see or read of abortion or embryo destruction, if you are a parent or a relative of a baby or young child, get that child’s face in your mind and ask yourself if your life would have been better if it had been killed. Ask yourself if you would not miss the love and sweetness of that child’s life in your heart and memory. Tell yourself that this darling child means nothing to you.
If the answer is “yes,” check into the nearest psychiatric clinic.
Look around you. What is more uplifting and heart-warming than watching a child laugh and play? What is more soul-satisfying than to watch one grow and develop into a good, useful and kind adult? What is more prideful than to see one go through life and making a clean path through the humanity of its peers?
For it is those children that are the renewal generation of citizens born and bred under our Constitution that will lead the world in matters of honor and decency, no matter what the rest of the world does. Then think back and consider what the world would have been if that embryo had been killed, that child stabbed and dismembered for parts at PBA. That precious and unique life would have never been known to you.
On this occasion of the permanent ban on PBA, let us look back and examine how we got to that point — and consider if we want to remain there. It is not a matter of removing a woman’s rights; it is a matter of whether we had the right to consider abortion anybody’s right. That right exists in no way in our Constitution or in our Bill of Rights. It only existed in the minds of the ACLU and others who are seemingly dedicated to removal of right to life from a valid standpoint.
Partial birth abortion is not an issue for dispassionate thought. Face it: it was the killing of a child at moment of birth by a fiend who deliberately killed the squirming child and then tore it to pieces. You notice that the liberal media would never allow a video of a partial birth abortion to be shown — because they wanted us all to delude ourselves that it was really nothing much. Can any rational person think that is a legal “right”?
In closing, if you are bothered by other perverted ideas of “rights” like that of illegal aliens being allowed amnesty, place the blame where it belongs — the Supreme Court. It was those judges who voted to legalize abortion who are directly responsible for the illegal alien invasion. The aliens invaded our borders only to fill the huge 45 million hole in our population which is the number of babies aborted since the inception of Roe vs. Wade.
Put the blame where it belongs — on them and on the very people who now are upset by the ban on partial birth abortion.
Charles N. Valenti
Many are to be thanked for farmers market
I would like to express my appreciation to the many individuals and organizations that have been instrumental in the development of this summer’s first Bethany Beach Farmers Market. The market will open July 1 in the Mercantile Peninsula Bank parking lot at the corner of Garfield Parkway and Pennsylvania Avenue. Hours of operation will be from 8 a.m. to noon for eight consecutive Sundays this season.
Such an endeavor would not have been possible without assistance and support from the following organizations: Bethany Beach Landowners Association, Women’s Civic Club of Bethany Beach, Bethany Beach Volunteer Fire Company, the mayor and town manager of Bethany Beach, as well as the entire Bethany Beach Town Council and the Delaware Department of Agriculture.
Interested parties from many directions have stepped up to help make this wholesome, healthy opportunity to “buy locally” a reality for the citizens and visitors of Bethany Beach. As a participating grower, I am pleased and excited about this new venture.
Anyone interested in volunteering at the Farmers Market or becoming involved as a grower/vendor may contact me at (302) 732-3358.
Atkins should get support as write-in
In American politics, we have seen numerous violations of trust. But in most cases, if that trust does not reach felony status, there is nothing done about it.
In John Atkins’ case, I feel all of the issues boil down to a dispute between him and his wife that caused everything else to happen and poor decisions to be made. I also feel that OCPD was the first responder and made the call. From there, politics and eager reporters took what was a personal “none of our business” family issue and made it a scandalous, poorly handled assassination of a good public servant.
The OCPD police officer — trainer — a skilled professional, made a decision for which they still stand and politicians miles and days away know more than the professional officer trained to serve the people of O.C.?
This is still up for debate and everyone has their opinion. We do not have to ask what the definition of sex is in this case, but has he done his job for you?
In the “thank you” letter John wrote in this past week’s Coastal Point, we see a list of items and well over a million dollars he has delivered to the 41st District. This list, I know for a fact, is incomplete. Private citizens have asked and received, when possible, any favor John could do for them. These are not promises but facts.
I only wish I lived in the 41st so I could write in “John Atkins” on Saturday, May 5, and show the upstate political machine that when Sussex Countians put their choice in office and he stands up and gets the things we deserve, we intend to see him stay there. I like John Atkins — he is a good man — I would vote for him if I could but I am a registered Democrat in the 38th District.
John R. Townsend Jr.
CAP gains support, contacts governor
Editor’s note: The following letter was addressed to Gov. Ruth Ann Minner, copied to the state Attorney General’s Office, the Delaware Public Service Commission, and all members of the Delaware House and Senate. It was forwarded to the Coastal Point for publication.
I am writing on behalf of a citizens’ group called Consumers for Alternate Power (CAP) to request a review/oversight of our electricity rates and to establish a “credit back” when rates go beyond what is reasonable compared to other states in the region.
Let me introduce our group: We began exactly one year ago, in April 2006, to look at the co-op concept and establish one. I spoke at more than a dozen home owner associations in Sussex County who had invited me to explain what our group was doing.
An umbrella group called ACTION, representing 12 HOA’s, or about 2,500 residents, authorized us to act on their behalf soliciting bids from third party suppliers. Alas, we found that the co-op idea was not viable because we needed to pay for a consultant for their expertise on the wholesale market. Then, we fell back to what is called an “affinity group,” which some suppliers would recognize as a much smaller group to bargain for rates.
The legislature had contemplated when they passed “deregulation” in 1999, that it would create competition in Delaware and that customers would have a choice of third-party suppliers. As an affinity group, we sent bidding letters to all of the third-party suppliers certified by the Public Service Commission to do business in Delaware. Again, this idea proved not to be viable because we received no bids.
I must add that it is a different story for commercial and industrial customers because they were able to form co-ops, with their high usage and money, to get access to the wholesale market. Residential consumers really don’t have this ability unless they pay for a consultant. The consultant fees are so high that it becomes a self defeating purpose.
Not many would have exercised their initiative to find lower rates, as we tried, but we were shocked and disappointed when we found that there was no competition in Delaware in 2006. I have letters and e-mails from third-party suppliers certified by the PSC who told me that they were not entering the Delaware market for residential supply. This is not the competition that was promised.
Delmarva Power and Light (DPL) also operates in Virginia and Maryland and raised its rates in these states, but at much lower percentage than Delaware’s average of 59 percent. Why is it that you cross a state border to Delaware, and percentage increase is 21.2 percent more? The electricity comes from the same Mid-Atlantic grid (PJM) wholesale prices. DPL’s percentage increase in Virginia was the lowest among the three states it services.
Could it be that Virginia has a credit-back mechanism established by their Attorney General and their Virginia State Corporation Commission on how much DPL can earn on their investment? Oversight hearings may shed some light on these and other issues. We ask that the Attorney General join with the PSC and establish such a mechanism for Delaware, if the legislature will not act.
In January 2007, our board met with out local representative and senator to get their views on the electricity rates. In March, we contacted the House legislative members addressing the issues of the 59 percent increase, exercising our First Amendment right to petition our government.
We want our public officials to know that many here in Sussex County, while conserving electricity, find the 59 percent rates oppressive and unreasonable. Your constituents are being used like pawns in this game of “deregulation.” When the state makes public policy, it should serve the interests of the majority and not special interests.
The issue of DPL’s finances was raised in January 2006 legislative meeting cited above. We did some research and found that the overall financial health of PEPCO Holdings, the parent company of DPL, reflected excellent growth in 2006, presumably from the 59 percent increase of DPL’s rates and recent sales of its generating assets and properties.
Why was DPL allowed to sell its generating assets? Its projected growth for 2007 and 2008 will exceed the sector, industry and S&P 500 estimated growth. (From financial data of Yahoo, March 2007)
Additionally, we checked the 10K statement of PEPCO Holdings filed with the SEC on December 31, 2006, and found that is was not close to bankruptcy, as previously stated by our representative. We find that “deregulation” by and large has been good to the big power companies, but at the expense of your constituents.
In light of the growth expected from deregulation, CAP also believes that a “credit back” to consumers should be established in Delaware to protect us against excessive rates. Virginia has already established one and it works like this:
“The ROE to be allowed by the VSCC will be set within a range, the lower of which is essentially the average of vertically integrated investor-owned electric utilities in the southeast with an upper point that is 300 basis points above that average. The VSCC has authority to set rates higher or lower to allow DPL to maintain the opportunity to earn the determined ROE and to credit back to customers, in whole or in part, earnings that were 50 basis points or more in excess of the determined ROE.” — from PEPCO Holdings statement filed with the SEC for year ending 2006.
Gov. Minner, we are asking you to ask the legislature to hold oversight hearings on the financial status of DPL and its parent company, PEPCO Holdings. We have been under these rates for one year now and it is time for some responsible oversight.
Gov. Minner, we are asking you to take a personal interest in this matter. We believe that your office represents all Delawareans and believe that you can provide leadership and action to move other state agencies to implement the remedies we outlined above.
Perry J. Mitchell, President, Consumers for Alternate Power; Joe McCourt, Vice President, CAP; Joan McCourt; Carole Fein Sutton; William F. Sutton; Ronald P. Liberto, President of Providence Home Owners Association; John and Anna Cloonan; Martin Kristula; Rhonda Kristula; Bob White; Eleanor Mullen; D.O. Neidigh; Joseph and Nancy Re; John Meehan; Barbara Zimmerman; Mr. and Mrs. Russell J. Zuback Sr.; Karen Lee Gabor; Paul Keller; Thomas Wallace; Leslie Sullivan; Nellie V. Hart; John Ray; Edward J. Orzechowski; Richard Nippes; Eileen Phillips; Nicolas Bova; Joan F. Springer; Howard and Carlotta Mannheim; Roxanne G. Sebastian; Dick Long; Donna Gibbler; Edgar Thielker; Joyce Thielker; Alice Jones; Felice M. Arnold; Harold Bogie; Arline Bogie; Edward Shegogue; Betty Shegogue; Kathy Vengazo; Charles Chilton; Marcia Chilton; Ray Silieo; Clair Sileo; Blair Guerin; Phil and Debi Plack; Robert and Georgie Smith
Whole community suffers loss of one
On Monday, April 9, 2007, the Town of Bethany Beach and the surrounding areas lost an ambassador of good will with the passing of Christianne Baker. Chris was the always cheerful and upbeat person who was at the cash register at Rhodes 5 & 10 for 23 years. She knew most of her customers and inquired about the health and well-being of those she saw. Dogs who passed her storefront often got a special treat.
Those of us who saw her daily — the morning boardwalk crowd — want her husband and daughter to know she will be sorely missed. We offer our heartfelt condolences to them.
Alzheimer’s fundraiser hugely successful
On April 22, the Outback Steakhouse in Rehoboth Beach held a fundraiser for the Alzheimer’s Association, Delaware Valley Chapter. On behalf of Chief Kenneth McLaughlin, OVPD, and the Citizen’s Auxiliary Patrol, we wish to send out a huge thank you.
Outback Steakhouse donated all of the monies back to the Alzheimer’s Association and, in turn, the Alzheimer’s Association will credit our team CAPs & Roses with an hearty $920. This is a wonderful way to start our campaign for Memory Walk 2007. This was a concerted effort.
Special love and thanks to all of the spectacular servers who gave of their time to come and work for no pay — what an asset to our community. These workers voluntarily signed up and we applaud them.
Lower Slower comes through again. The heart of our communities and several churches also participated. Ocean View Presbyterian Church, Bethel’s Mariner, High Tide and St. Ann’s were represented by Deacon Dennis Hayden and the following friends and relatives: Chief and Mrs. Kenneth LcLaughlin, OVPD; Amy Peoples; Rep. Gerald Hocker and his lovely wife, Emily; Rebecca Stancliff; Darin McCann, Coastal Point; Joseph & Mary Martinez, Awesome Cheesecake; Rodney & Laura Hufford; Lauretta Alberti; Mary Spicer; Richard Birkmeyer; Fay Marsh; Kenny and Joan Dodson; Roberta Collins; Norman Amendt; Pamela Walpole; RuthAnn Marvel and family; Rich and Sandy McKinley; Vincent and Annette Bertone; Vinnie and Maureen Esposito; Donna Richardson; David Colella; Miranda Altice; Joseph Rainaldi; Connie Kelly; amazing Grace Wolfe; Denise Hayden; Carol Bodine, and special love to Fran.
Dave and Nan Colella
Doctor leaves lasting impression on group
The South Bethany Women’s Club met at the South Coastal Library on April 19, 2007, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. We want to thank Emelou Sagaral, M,D., for a very informative talk on “Heart Attack — what every woman should know.”
Sagaral is the lead physician at the new Peninsula Regional Medical Center Primary Care Network Ocean View Family Medicine office in Millville. Specializing in family medicine with special interest and training in cosmetic dermatology, Sagaral received her medical degree from the College of Medicine, Davao Medical School Foundation in the Philippines. She completed a post-graduate internship at Mary Johnson Hospital in Manila, Philippines, and was most recently the chief resident at Drexel University College of Medicine, Department of Family Practice in Warminster, Pa. Dr. Sagaral has also served on the clinical staff of Advanced Laser and Cosmetic Dermatology in Houston, Texas, under the direction of Seymour M. Weaver III, M.D.
Dr. Sagaral is accepting new patients, ages 2 and above, at the Ocean View Family Medicine office, 142 Atlantic Ave., in Millville. Her office may be reached by calling (302) 537-1457.
South Bethany Women’s Club
Nippes looks to bring town together
Editor’s note: The following letter was addressed to residents of Ocean View and forwarded to the Coastal Point for publication.
Thank you for the confidence you expressed in my abilities by electing me to the Town Council. I am just now realizing the awesome responsibility that is inherent in this office.
Many residents do not fully comprehend the impact that the Town Council has over its citizens. It was disappointing to all the candidates that only 45 percent of eligible voters took the time to vote. This sends the wrong message to your elected officials. The registration process needs to be revised and I can assure residents that it will be addressed before the next election.
During my campaign, I pledged to try to bring the subdivisions that comprise Ocean View together and create a cohesive community with a renewed spirit. There already exist a number of successful cultural events and activities that we can build upon.
Greater participation in the outstanding Concert in the Park program that the town sponsors needs to be fostered. I envision an Ocean View Recognition Day or Unity Day to complement our current programs. Our town has a rich historical and cultural heritage that needs to be promoted.
To accomplish this lofty vision, I need help from residents throughout the whole community. To accomplish this goal will require two areas of concentration. The first involves the revitalization of our historical committee. Interested historians must set out to conduct interviews and record the knowledge of our long-term residents. They are the primary source of information about Ocean View’s past history. Artifacts, pictures, writings, and other valuable sources of history must be gathered and preserved.
I assure all members that join this invaluable committee that your work will not end up in a drawer or be ignored. I will work with the Council to find a location where your efforts will be appropriately displayed for all residents to observe and reflect about the colorful past of Ocean View.
The second focus will concentrate on our cultural heritage. We need to build upon our current cultural programs and expand into new realms of possibility. Many of you have visions or ideas that could be nurtured to bring our community together. We all have talents and the greatest gift is sharing them with others in the community.
I would like to facilitate this sharing of ideas to promote our town and its unique character. I have reserved the night of Wednesday, May 2, at the town hall to begin the reflecting process. The brainstorming session will begin at 7 p.m. This meeting is for people who wish to reorganize the historical committee and those who desire to explore ways to unify the community.
I realize that many of you are busy people and may not be able to attend on May 2. If you cannot attend, but would like to be a part of this process, please call me at 539-8374 so that I can inform you of the next meeting date.
There is a tremendous amount of talent in this community and, if brought together and nurtured, the sky is the limit for Ocean View and its future image. There is more to living in a community than making sure it has a balanced budget. The heart of any vibrant community is its people.
I promise to use my position on the Town council to promote existing events and new proposals that emanate from the people. Public service through volunteerism is the life-blood of any forward-looking community. Generating a positive change for Ocean View rests with all of us. Attend on May 2 and be part of a reawakening for the Town of Ocean View.
Richard Nippes, Town Councilman
Magill wants to set financial record straight
Editor’s note: The following letter was addressed to the citizens of Ocean View and forwarded to the Coastal Point for publication.
Lest anyone believe they read “the rest of the story” on Ocean View finances in the manifesto by Bill Wichmann and Norman Amendt last week, I would like to highlight the factual errors and false statements contained therein.
Their letter is an affront to two town managers, including Kathy Roth, who the county hired away as budget and cost manager last year, a retired owner of a $120 million business, a retired bank vice president, a real estate broker and two former comptrollers.
Those advisors spent countless hours on the town’s Long-Range Financial Planning Committee. Analyzing our financial situation, they have consistently concluded that the town’s reliance on the volatile transfer tax would require disciplined spending and careful use of reserves to avoid catastrophe.
But, Wichmann and Amendt, a self-proclaimed international businessman and a retired cable guy, stooped to false statements to try to impugn those advisors’ financial expertise.
Among other things, they falsely state that the “alleged shortages in the long-range plan were calculated without factoring in any revenues from transfer tax.” Wichmann knows this isn’t true as he actively participated in discussions that resulted in the $6.053 million in transfer taxes included in the plan.
Such false statements were designed to justify Wichmann’s vote against the budget this year, when in reality, his negative vote was little more than political grandstanding for his rumored mayoral campaign in 2008.
This year, he voted for the FY2008 budget in committee before voting against it on council, citing the 9 percent tax increase that was included in the same budget he had already voted for in committee.
The fact is, Wichmann wants to raise your taxes. In a meeting of the LRFP last year, he suggested a 50 percent tax increase, proclaiming “People didn’t move here to see how cheaply they could live.”
When councilman Roy Thomas offered a compromise of removing the tax increase if council cut expenses, Wichmann expressed no interest.
Wichmann wants to raise your taxes — just not until after the 2008 mayoral race.
Fiscal stability: Wichmann contends the town is financially sound even though he voted for a long-range plan that projects the town will burn through $3.3 million in cash to a negative $400,000 bank balance in two years. That includes the transfer taxes we expect to take in.
These deficits require the town to take money from reserves — money that also must cover capital projects — to cover the operating expenses they can be legally used for. Look at Route 26 and DelDOT’s $1.5 billion deficit for capital projects to see what happens when organizations operate this way.
The solution requires long-range planning, which Wichmann loathes because the numbers don’t support his desire to add $700,000 a year in more police officers, trash service and staff raises above the traditional 5 percent. That $700,000 would equate to a 75 percent tax increase.
When confronted with the long-range numbers, Wichmann has said he doesn’t care about the future because, “None of us will be here (on council).”
Water system: Wichmann/Amendt contend that fiscal mismanagement has caused water system delays that have cost the town $2 million that could have been used to pay off the police station — again, a false statement.
Both are fully aware that no town funds will be used in this project. Instead, USDA grants and loans will fund construction and be paid for solely by fees charged to the properties served. The USDA funds can not be used for any other purpose.
They are also aware that the delays were caused by the legal process of acquiring an extraordinary number of easements (nearly 130 – 10 times the easements in Dagsboro) and because the USDA couldn’t provide funding information for 14 months due to uncertainty in Washington, D.C.
During those delays, external events beyond the town’s control, such as the jump in construction costs following Hurricane Katrina, caused increases in the system’s cost well above the rate of inflation.
Secret trust funds: Wichmann/Amendt contend that $1.425 million was “secreted” into emergency reserve and capital replacement funds. The funds, endorsed by the town’s auditors and new town manager, were voted on in public by council after an introduction and two hearings.
If Wichmann/Amendt so strongly opposed locking this money up, they should have voted against both funds. Instead, they voted against the smaller fund — $425,000 for capital replacement — but for the larger fund — $1 million for the emergency reserve.
Alternate revenue sources: Wichmann-Amendt say the town should explore all revenue sources before increasing property taxes, yet when the LRFP recommended a rental tax as a new revenue source, Wichmann voted against it.
Canal Landing: Wichmann/Amendt say the Canal Landing annexation will raise $7 million to $8 million in revenue over the next five years. The LRFP actually spreads those figures out over seven to 10 years with a net surplus after expenses of $5.1 million if council adds only 1.5 employees in that time frame and Canal Landing meets its sales goals. The LRFP also notes that the annexation could become a financial liability to the town after buildout.
Tax burden: Wichmann/Amendt say they do not want to burden current citizens with higher taxes so future citizens may have a lighter tax load, yet they expect current citizens to foot the entire bill for the $2.2 million police station to save on interest payments for future citizens. They also neglected to mention that the police station loan can be paid off early without penalty — perhaps from the Canal Landing annexation.
Monitoring your money: Wichmann/Amendt say they will continue to manage the town’s finances as they would their own, yet when the chief of police presented an obviously flawed manpower study in a LRFP meeting to justify an expansion of his department with three more officers, a receptionist and four seasonal officers, neither of them questioned it.
In that study, the chief compared Ocean View’s population and full-time officers to the same figures for surrounding towns. In the comparison, he used the 2005 U.S. Census for those towns, but used a population of 2,000 for Ocean View. He concluded that these figures clearly showed that the Ocean View Police Department is understaffed.
In fact, that same 2005 Census estimate showed Ocean View with a population of only 1,094, which indicated that the department is actually overstaffed. Had council expanded the police department based on this study, the mistake would have cost you nearly $400,000 per year or a 42 percent tax increase.
Rest of the story: As noted earlier, Wichmann/Amendt make false statements in accusing councilman Roy Thomas of presenting a “doom and gloom” financial forecast to justify the 9 percent tax increase. Again, Wichmann voted for a long-range plan that shows the town with negative $1.375 million in the bank in six years with no foreseeable solution.
They further suggest a 60 percent formula to forecast anticipated transfer tax revenues — “With that formula as a guide, our Town should realize monies that would be more than sufficient to supplement any cash deficiencies in our budget and maintain a reserve,” they write.
That formula would use 60 percent of the average of the three previous years’ transfer taxes to project future transfer taxes, but applying that formula, the town should expect only $4.684 million in transfer taxes through FY13 instead of the $6.053 million anticipated in our current plan.
In that scenario, the town would spend $5.269 million more than it takes in during that period and have a negative $2.744 million in the bank in FY2013 — hardly conducive to covering the town’s cash deficiencies and maintaining its reserves.
In closing, although I am no longer on council, I intend to follow these and other town issues. I invite you to follow along with me at my new blog, www.oceanviewblog.com.
Wind power — a healthy option
Before Delaware grants permission for construction of another coal-burning power plant, state decision-makers would be wise to read Jeff Goodell’s book, “Big Coal,” that exposes the dirty secrets behind America’s energy future, and to view Jeff Barrie’s video, “Kilowatt Ours,” (available in Sussex County libraries) that documents the serious health problems caused by emissions from coal-burning power plants and the catastrophic environmental destruction inflicted by mountain-top mining, which has obliterated more than 400,000 acres of forest and destroyed more than 700 miles of streams in central Appalachia.
Goodell, who is not a member of any environmental organization, spent three years researching his 2006 book. He uses the phrase “Big Coal” as shorthand for the alliance of coal mining companies, coal-burning utilities, railroads, lobbying groups, and industry supporters that make the coal industry such a political force in America.
The epilogue of Goodell’s book speaks to basic energy issues now confronting Delaware. He writes, “The world faces two enormous challenges in the coming years: the end of cheap oil and the arrival of global warming. Both are profound threats to our comfortable notions of civilized life. We should be grateful for the vast reserves of coal we have left and use them wisely, but the hard truth is that our bounty of coal is not going to save us from anything. At best, exploiting our coal reserves will buy us a decade or two of time and come at enormous expense, both in terms of the environment and public health and in terms of the billions of dollars that will be spent remaking a nineteenth-century fuel for the twenty-first century.
“In many ways, the world’s coal reserves only make our energy problems worse, because they give us a false sense of security: if we run out of gas and oil, we can just switch over to coal; if we can figure out a way to ‘clean’ coal, we can have a cheap, plentiful source of energy. In reality, however, facing the twin challenges of the end of oil and the coming of global warming is going to require reinventing the infrastructure of modern life. The most dangerous thing about our continued dependence on coal is not what it does to our lungs, our mountains, or even our climate, but what it does to our minds: it preserves the illusion that we don’t have to change our thinking.
“We need to find ways to make the invisible visible. I mean this in the broadest possible sense. Big Coal has thrived largely because the costs of air pollution, miners’ safety, devastated mountains and global warming are invisible to us as consumers of electricity. There is no surtax on our electricity bills for charges related to increased asthma attacks in children or burial fees for victims of sudden heat waves related to global warming.
“If people could see behind their light switches, if they could trace the wires back to the power plant and the coal mine, if they could get an accurate accounting of what a kilowatt really costs us, would they still choose to burn coal? Some would, but some wouldn’t. Either way, it would be much harder to maintain the fiction that electric power flows down to us from a giant golden bucket in the sky.
“We need to grasp the urgent fact that every ton of CO2 that a big coal burner pumps into the air pushes our world — and our children’s world — that much closer to potential catastrophe. No one is arguing that coal plants should be shut down tomorrow, but we need to acknowledge that global warming is real and that we need to begin preparing for what’s ahead. It means finding a way to cut greenhouse gas emissions. The time to debate whether or not to act is over.
“Right now, the biggest impediment to change — and one that Big Coal does its best to encourage — is the idea that we are dependent on the very thing that is killing us.
We hear it all the time: if we pass laws that limit CO2 emissions, the price of electricity will skyrocket and the economy will collapse. If we clean up dirty coal plants, the price of electricity will skyrocket and the economy will collapse. If we restrict mountaintop removal mining, the price of electricity will skyrocket and the economy will collapse. These arguments amount to nothing less than blackmail.
“It’s important to acknowledge that Big Coal may in fact be right when it argues that reforming the industry will cause electricity prices to rise and the consumption of coal to fall. This could very well bring real economic hardship to some areas of the country, especially in regions where coal is mined. Even if those predictions turn out to be accurate, however, it still doesn’t justify the larger costs and consequences of our continued indulgence in cheap coal.
“But, the truth is, I believe the industry grossly exaggerates the hardships that await us if we dare to change our thinking. Maybe it’s just my entrepreneurial bias, but spending three years researching this book led me to feel in some ways more hopeful about the future, not less. I understand now that while the challenges the world faces in figuring out how to satisfy its thirst for energy without destroying itself in the process are immense, so are the opportunities.
“Old coal plants are more than just relics of an earlier era; they are giant bulwarks against change, mechanical beasts that are holding back a flood of ideas and innovation. When we muster up the courage to knock them down, the revolution will begin.
“It’s not that I have blind faith that technology will save us or that I think we can snap our fingers and replace all the coal plants in the world with wind turbines and solar panels; I simply believe that it’s within our grasp to figure out less destructive ways to create and consume the energy we need. Ultimately, the most valuable fuel for the future is not coal or oil, but imagination and ingenuity. We have reinvented our world before. Why can’t we do it again?”
The Sierra Club of Delaware believes that emphasis should be placed on conservation as a primary answer to addressing Delaware’s energy demands and that fossil fuel fired power plants — such as the one proposed by NRG at its Indian River site — are no longer acceptable options in the face of global warming and mercury-contaminated waterways. Therefore, with the stipulation of appropriate siting and implementation, the Sierra Club endorses the Bluewater Wind energy proposal.
The Public Service Commission is scheduled to select Delaware’s future power generating option on May 8. Precious little time remains to write, e-mail or call Gov. Minner (1-800-292-9570) and be heard on this extremely important issue. Don’t delay, act now.
Chairman, Energy Subcommittee,
Sierra Club, Southern Delaware Group