Month 4, Day 30: Cape Fear

Ken Salazar approved the long-awaited Cape Wind project today. While there are a number of issues that have to be resolved over siting and environmental impact, this is good news; I expect that the 130 wind turbines in the middle of Nantucket Sound will turn into a tourist attraction. Massachusetts’ junior senator, of course, was upset.

“With unemployment hovering near 10 percent in Massachusetts, the Cape Wind project will jeopardize industries that are vital to the Cape’s economy, such as tourism and fishing, and will also impact aviation safety and the rights of the Native American tribes in the area. I am also skeptical about the cost-savings and job number predictions we have heard from proponents of the project.

Not, of course, because he really cares about any of that stuff, but because he’s a Republican, and that’s what Republicans do. Meanwhile, A Siegel gave us a good report on a recent study that puts the lie to Republican objections to meaningful climate action.

So I jammed all that stuff into a long letter to Senator Brown. Perhaps one of his staffers will read it to him.

Dear Senator Brown —

I was interested to read of your opposition to the Cape Wind project. While you cite some reasonable concerns about the offshore wind turbine installation, one quote stood out for me. You said, “Instead of forging a coalition and building consensus, this administration has created a deep division that will lead to fewer Massachusetts jobs and more expensive court battles.”

Actually, this administration has been striving since Day one to build consensus and forge coalitions. Any suggestion to the contrary is disingenuous at best and more simply an outright lie. You and your Republican colleagues in the Senate have been remarkably unified in blocking Democratic initiatives — even those (like financial reform) that are obviously to the benefit of your constituents.

You say you support “the concept of wind power as an alternative source of energy.” Does your readiness to “support the concept” mean you’ll vote for the Kerry/Lieberman/Graham climate/energy bill? Or will you vote in Republican lockstep as usual?

Here are some facts that could change your mind.

A newly released study from the Center for Climate Strategies shows that that household wealth and jobs will grow faster in a green economy, and that many previous economic analyses by federal agencies and industry groups are wrong. The CCS study shows conclusively that strong climate mitigation efforts should be considered “investments” leading to significant benefits, rather than as “costs.”

The study further shows that the more aggressive the action, the greater the economic benefits. Now it’s important to recognize, Senator Brown, that when it’s time to analyze the costs and benefits of acting to mitigate climate change, the interests fighting against meaningful climate action have over and over shown themselves ready to lie, to spread misinformation, to use fear tactics, to foster falsehoods about how much it’ll cost. And those who are working for meaningful climate action almost without exception remain overly cautious, understating the benefits of their recommendations.

The record shows vividly that those fighting against environmental protections have exaggerated their cost estimates, and that supporters have understated the benefits. Two examples of this pattern are The Clean Air Act (CAA) and action to protect the Ozone Layer (reducing CFCs). Your colleague Senator Merkley put it nicely when he said:

“…every single time in this nation, when we have confronted great damage to our air or to our water, it is always the same mantra: ‘it will kill jobs’. And every single time when we look back 10 years later, 20 years later, we’re so thankful that we actually created jobs by cleaning up our waterways, we created jobs by cleaning up our air, and we’re going to create jobs by cleaning up carbon dioxide pollution as well.”

This CCS report makes it clear that acting to mitigate climate change will benefit the U.S. economy significantly, and that the more aggressive the action, the better the economy will do. Incidentally, the study doesn’t even include the most important value of action: reducing the impact of catastrophic climate chaos will save us a lot of money, jobs and lives.

And who are the people standing against climate action? Who are the people who are happy to spout falsehoods or scatter irrelevancies when it’s time to talk about meaningful responses to the greatest threat humanity has ever faced? Your Republican colleagues, Senator. As the CCS study shows, the Republican objections to climate legislation (even legislation as drastically weakened as the KLG bill) are unfounded and insincere.

Kind of like your objections to Cape Wind.

Yours Sincerely,

Warren Senders

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