Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Pig Poo in Carolina: Nothing Finer?

New legislation passed in North Carolina doesn't totally seem to pass the smell test, according to an article in the Asheville Citizen-Times (excerpted here), which quotes North Carolina Interfaith Power and Light Regional Director Richard Fireman.
A law signed Monday by Gov. Mike Easley requires electric utilities to use renewable energy sources like sunlight, wind and even swine waste to meet the state’s growing power demand and cut down on greenhouse-gas emissions.
Now that North Carolina has joined in, exactly half of the states have such laws. Congress is mulling a similar measure.
“We’re seeing a dramatic upswing in the interest in renewable energy from the general public,” said Dave Hollister, co-founder of Sundance Power Systems in Mars Hill, “and ultimately what’s going to happen is, if the utilities don’t do it, the people are going to do it anyway, and the utilities are going to be left on the sideline.”
But states’ success in meeting their goals and the cost to consumers remains to be seen.
And lawmakers stand to lose political support from environmentalists, as North Carolina’s did, by trying to satisfy industry.
Environmentalists like Richard Fireman, western region director for N.C. Interfaith Power and Light, are skeptical of using such untested fuels derived from animal waste, and they wrinkle their noses even more at lawmakers’ concessions to power companies.
The same law that encourages alternative fuels also clears the way for new coal and nuclear plants.
Helping utilities build traditional plants only worsens global warming, Fireman said.
“We’re under a time constraint here before we pass several tipping points that are going to prevent us from really mitigating climate change,” said Fireman, who powers his Mars Hill home in part with solar panels.
Interfaith Power and Light is a religious response to global warming with chapters in 22 states (including the great state of North Carolina) and Greater Washington, D.C. Find a link to your local chapter at

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