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Category — North Carolina

Fighting AGW Religion in North Carolina (sea-level-rise debate gets political)

What’s been happening recently in North Carolina (NC) is a microcosm of the anthropogenic global warming (AGW) story: politics versus science, ad-hominems versus journalism, evangelists versus pragmatists, etc.

The contentiousness is over one of the main AGW battlefields: sea-level rise (SLR). North Carolina happens to have a large amount of coastline and has become the U.S. epicenter for this issue.


The brief version is that this began several years ago when a state agency, the Coastal Resources Commission (CRC), selected a 20± member “science panel” to do a scientific assessment of the NC SLR situation through 2100. This could have been a very useful project if there had been balance in the personnel selections, and the panel’s assessment adhered to scientific standards. Regrettably, neither happened and the project soon jumped the rails, landing in the political agenda ditch.

In their 2010 report, the panel concluded that NC should expect a 39-inch SLR by 2100. Their case was built around a 2007 paper by Stefan Rahmstorf, and was not encumbered by a single reference to a perspective different from Rahmstorf’s. Shortly after the report was released, state agencies started making the rounds of North Carolina coastal communities, putting them on notice that they would need to make BIG changes (elevating roads and bridges, re-zoning property, changing flood maps for insurance purposes, etc.).

My Involvement

As an independent scientist, I was solicited by my coastal county to provide a scientific perspective on this report. Even though I wasn’t a SLR expert, I could clearly see that this document was a classic case of Confirmation Bias, as it violated several scientific standards. But to get into the technical specifics I solicited the inputs of about 40 international SLR experts (oceanographers, etc.). [Read more →]

June 12, 2012   12 Comments

North Carolina Onshore Wind Development: Look Before You Leap (Part II)

[Editor Note: Part I by Mr. Droz examined North Carolina's proposed offshore wind power development.]

As a citizen of North Carolina and someone with a modicum of energy knowledge, I am particularly interested in how the state is going to handle the approval process of its first industrial wind project (now about two-third’s along).

My ongoing investigation has involved speaking and/or corresponding with about two dozen key state agency people. Most were cooperative and helpful and readily acknowledged that this was new to them. I was appreciative of the fact that most also expressed an interest in being more involved with wind energy approval; but it always came back to the fact that North Carolina has no law that mandated their participation or spelled out their wind energy assessment responsibility.

My experience might be helpful to others given the similarities between North Caroline and other states and provinces. Given the growing grassroots scrutiny of industrial wind projects because of their taxpayer/ratepayer dependency and heavy environmental impact, we all need to share our experiences.

“Desert Wind” Project

Desert Wind” is a wind energy project proposed for the Elizabeth City area of northeastern North Carolina (NC). This is the first industrial wind project in the state, and it has been projected to be one of the largest in the United States.

The driving forces behind Desert Wind are the state’s Renewable Energy Standard, lucrative federal/state financial incentives, and very permissive approval conditions. This article is about the last situation.

Throughout the process of approving this industrial complex, and then overseeing its operation, the fundamental questions are: How is the state protecting the rights of its citizens, protecting wildlife, and the environment?

The answer is that (partly due to this being the first such project) that the state was not (and is not) prepared to adequately provide any of these protections.

One would think that when a NC community is approached about hosting such an industrial project, that they should be able to go to some NC agency and would be provided with comprehensive, objective, and balanced information about the pros and cons of such developments. The community could then get accurately educated about this highly technical matter, and then come to their own conclusions as to whether or not it is beneficial for them. Unfortunately, at this time there is no such information available from any NC agency.

In fact the only state agencies that do provide information, are effectively agents of the developer, as their contributions are essentially a repetition of what the developer’s advertisements say. What’s worse is that although these state agencies have no hesitancy to pass on the developer’s claims, not a single agency has taken the initiative to get any of these claims to be legally guaranteed. As a result, communities are entirely on their own regarding getting a balanced assessment. Considering the complexity involved plus the pressure that the developer exerts on the community to expedite things (or else they will go to friendlier confines), almost no meaningful protections are enacted.

Some citizens have the mistaken idea that if the developer is “approved” that this in an indication that a thorough assessment has been conducted. Unfortunately that is not even remotely true. “Approval” of a developer merely means that the existing rules have been met. The deficiency here is that there is no NC wind development approval procedure. Instead they have to pass generic rules that apply to any business — and none of these were designed to address the intricacies of wind energy development. There are many examples, but let’s take just three. [Read more →]

June 27, 2011   7 Comments

Wind Turbines Offshore North Carolina: Look Before You Dive (Part I)

[Part II by Mr. Droz looks at North Carolina's onshore wind development.]

The Governor of North Carolina recently selected a Scientific Advisory Panel on Offshore Energy to make recommendations regarding offshore energy. At the official state site, information is given about who is on the panel, submissions received, and so on.

Three public hearings have been held regarding coastal Carolina. I spoke in the Morehead City hearing. My brief (two minutes allowed) comments were aimed at the proper process that North Carolina should take to resolve which energy options should be implemented. Not surprisingly the majority of inputs received at these meeting were people and organizations advocating offshore wind energy. (What is that political science insight about concentrated benefits and diffuse costs?)

The Panel is now digesting the inputs received. I have been advised that it would be helpful to email them a follow-up correspondence that focused on the economics of offshore wind energy.

Below is my draft version; I welcome comments for improvements, additions or deletions from MasterResource readers. [Read more →]

May 19, 2011   4 Comments