Letters - February 23, 2007

Legislators need to step up on power issues

Editor’s note: The following letter was addressed to “Delaware decision makers” and forwarded to the Coastal Point for publication.

While the public has largely made up its mind that renewable energy is best for Delaware’s future, some of our elected officials have engaged in what can only be described as fence-sitting or outright denial of the harmful effects that the use of coal inflicts on the people of Delaware.

Harmful effects from coal-burning air pollution are obvious to anyone who looks around. The Delaware Public Health Department has been “missing in action” for years in exposing the hazards to public health from Delaware coal plants. People must demand protection, because special interests have held too much sway with our elected officials.

Some wrap themselves in the argument that we have coal, and should use it. Others say, “clean coal is an oxymoron.” Still others say, “...the most dangerous fuel widely used by humanity at present is not uranium, plutonium or thorium. The most dangerous fuel is coal. The details may vary, but the conclusion is overwhelmingly the same. Because the facts of the matter are so obvious, people who note there is still lots of coal left to burn and not much natural gas or oil, are trying to dress up the pig.” (NNadir, Daily Kos)

How do we protect ourselves? We must stay here and fight, or move to states where public health is more important than industry money and influence. I’m sure that’s what all the real estate developers want to hear. People are saying they don’t want to live here, because they are now aware of the hidden costs and effects of pollution that have been covered up for years.

Unknown to many potential home buyers, the American Lung Association rates the entire state of Delaware “F” for ozone, which produces inflammation in the lungs, and worsens asthma, pulmonary congestion and heart problems. High particulate levels increase risks of lung cancer, heart disease and asthma. As one new resident told Sen. McBride in January, “I am a 14-year ex-smoker. I watch my diet, exercise, and get regular check-ups. I didn’t move to Delaware to get lung cancer. And I can move out.”

How big are those hidden costs? It has been hard for citizens to get a handle on the costs, because of all the redacted information in the NRG proposal.

We are not the only ones pondering this question. The European Community has been much more engaged in the calculation of hidden environmental cost from competing power providers, be they nuclear, conventional coal, or IGCC (NRG’s proposed second plant). See the European Report on External Cost of Energy at www.externe.info/expoltec.pdf. Here are the results of the analysis:

According to the numbers, conventional coal burning (such as the current Indian River plant) costs 9.9 to 17.85 U.S. cents/kwh (kilowatt hour) for health and environmental destruction;
Coal IGCC: (such as the proposed second Indian River plant) without sequestration costs 3.2 to 3.9 U.S. cents/kwh in health and environmental destruction;
Gas CC: 1.31 U.S. cents/kwh (what Conectiv proposes);
Photovoltaic: 0.54 U.S. cents/kwh;
Wind, offshore: 0.16 U.S. cents/kwh (what Bluewater Wind proposes);
Wind, onshore: 0.12 U.S. cents/kwh;
Hydro costs 0.066 U.S. cents/kwh.
NRG proposes to sequester 65 percent of the carbon dioxide in a deep onsite injection well that would be drilled, or retrofitted. However, it has never been done before and their sequestration costs do not appear as part of the proposal.

The proposed 580MW IGCC plant, without sequestration, at 80 percent capacity would bring health and environmental destruction estimated at from $130 million to $158 million.

Offshore wind would be $6.5 million at most, using the same level of generation. Offshore wind offers a $123.5 million to $151.5 million per year savings over an IGCC. Put another way, a 1000 kwh per month home would spend between $364.80 and $448.80 more per year with the IGCC. “No deal.”

Your leadership and support are needed. Please support clean, renewable wind power now.

John Austin
Citizens for Clean Power

Classified diva gets her day in the sun
I have lived in Ocean View on a part-time basis for a little over one year. I took this time to thank you for the Coastal Point paper. I enjoy your articles and especially your Classified section. Being over 50 now — actually 58 years old as of January 2007 — I knew my chances of finding work in “Lower, Slower Delaware” would be tough.

You have saved me with your Classified sales section. I find it a simple way to be at the shore more by selling items in your Classifieds. Jane Johnson is a valued employee, who is friendly and familiar with my ad needs. She’s really easy to talk to and extremely efficient. I really also like the large print in your Classifieds so seniors can easily read ads and buy.

Bob Foster
Ocean View

Human beings are not at fault for climate
I read with some amusement the recent front page article by Jonathan Starkey regarding the pending doom of global warming. The article came out on one of the coldest days of the winter and I was reading while waiting for my pipes to thaw out.

It would appear that Mr. Starkey has been watching former Vice President Al Gore’s movie too many times. I wonder if he realizes there are many other scientists in the world who do not believe that global warming is man-made and is, indeed, a natural occurrence.

One particular scientist, named Nigel Calder (former editor of New Scientist), recently wrote, “Humility in the face of Nature’s marvel seems more appropriate than arrogant assertions that we can forecast and even control a climate ruled by the sun and stars.”

The current wiseman of all doomsayers is former VP Al Gore, who is the same Al Gore who spent eight long years as vice president of the United States, during which time I guess global warming wasn’t such a big deal because we hardly heard a word about it out of his mouth, although the senate during his reign did reject the Kyoto Accord by a vote of 09-0.

Of course, this was about six years ago and I realize these climate horrors happen quickly. In the early ’70s, when I was in high school, the major concern was the coming ice age (that’s 1970, not 1870).

The point is the current discussion has become a political battle aimed mostly as a reason to raise taxes so we can throw money at the problem and make it go away. But it is a one-sided discussion with only the believers of man-made global warming being heard.

Has it been that long ago that we looked at a picture of earth from outer space? Do you really think it’s possible that we can change the temperature?

Kevin Kleinstuber
Fenwick Island

Is the bid by ICGG an honest bid?
The IGCC bid is not complete and therefore not truthful. It conveniently does not include any mention of a carbon tax, which is inevitable, nor does it mention the price of capturing or sequestering the 600 metric tons of CO2, per hour. And that is if it can even be done; to date that has not been proven.

Proponents of the IGCC bid must realize that these costs are going to be placed on their bill. Why have these omissions been permitted? How can the public support something without all the facts? Or is that the idea?

If we are going to have a bidding system, at least let it be accurate, complete and honest.

Jan Clear

Family grateful for support of community
On New Year’s morning, our beloved daughter Katie Harris was suddenly taken from us. We’d like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has touched our hearts, just as Katie touched theirs.

To thank each and every one of you individually would take so long, yet our gratitude can never be measured and our heartfelt thanks go out to all of you. We would like to express our appreciation for all the kind words, sympathetic cards, donations, the over-abundance of food that was brought to our house, but most of all, the love and support that we have been so blessed to receive.

To all of you who were there for us, we thank you: the Millville Fire Department’s Medical Emergency Team for their quick response and compassion during this tragedy, the Emergency Room of Beebe Medical Center for their sincere efforts, Parcels Funeral Home, St. Martha’s Church (particularly Rev. Wickhan and Father Spicer); the Selbyville Police Department, as well as the town of Selbyville; employees of Century 21 Wilgus for their thoughts, prayers and support; Cpl. Lance Skinner of Troop 4, who was instrumental in getting financial support from fellow police officers in the way of donations; local businesses who brought food, made donations to the Kathryn Harris Memorial Fund and displayed road-side signs of sympathy; the community of Blackwater Village for their flowers, donations and food; Bayville Shores and Bethany Proper for their donations to the memorial fund; local police officers from Bethany, Ocean View, South Bethany, Milton, Millsboro, Selbyville, Seaford, Fenwick Island, Rehoboth, Georgetown, Laurel, Milford and the State Police for their unselfish efforts and going above and beyond what could ever be expected of these officers; the various police departments for escorting our family to St. Martha’s Church; and last, but certainly not least, our family and friends whose love and support have helped us to realize how very precious life is and how blessed we are to know so many wonderful people.

We have had the good fortune to be a part of so many lives and the genuine love and support that we have experienced through our tragic loss can only be a testimony to the remarkable town we live in. Again, we thank each and every one of you who helped lift our spirits and our faith through your kindness, compassion, thoughts and prayers. God bless,

Larry, Laura and Cody Harris

Wind power is our best alternative
Delaware is looking at bids to help supply our future energy needs. Why would we consider an unproven technology over one that is proven?

I am referring to the coal-gasification plant, IGCC. It is still unproven. There are only four plants in the world — none as large as the proposal for Delaware, and none capturing CO2. According to the Government Accountability Office, “…its (IGCC) development has been plagued by mismanagement, waste and failed programs.”

Wind is a proven technology, hundreds of years old and at least 15 in its current process. Wind will run just as efficiently as coal and both will go to the grid when the need exists. Long term, the wind supply is renewable at no future cost. Can the same be said of coal?

What about price inflation? What about the inevitable carbon tax? What about the cost of capture and sequestering? What about the cost of global warming if CO2 is not captured? Wind may cost more initially, but the future price stability cannot be matched by IGCC.

Let’s not be fooled by false promises. Let’s get smart and look at the long term reality. Wind power serves us best.

Karen McGinn