The Cape Wind project
Sep 20, 2006

Staying in the political vein for now, I had a few thoughts on the Cape Wind project. When looking into the candidates, it didn't take long to realize that their thoughts on this project revealed a lot about their general policy. Really, it should have appeal to members of both parties. It involves the privatization of public land, favors business, reduces (albeit slightly) our dependency on foreign oil, stimulates the economy, and lowers cost of living at the same time for the Republicans. For the Democrats it's good for the environment, helps establish America's support for alternative energies, and stimulates the economy, all important Democratic talking points. When you think about it, there's no reasonable objection to it. Republicans should like it for the free market approach towards solving several issues at once, and Democrats should like it for the vapid, buzzword-compliant environmental-friendliness. Me? I like it for all of the above reasons; it's just a good idea all around. The only people who don't like it are the NIMBY crowd. So this issue really provides an excellent test as to the general political alignment of the candidates above and beyond the broad stroke of party. In a broad stroke of my own, I think it's fair to say that those who support it are, in general, interested in the issues more, and those who are against are mostly just courting the vote of the, generally wealthy, Cape Coders (most of whom are probably snowbirds anyway); no one really objects on any grounds other than aesthetic. At least that's the feeling that I got from reading the various candidates' positions on the project. It did, however, occur to me while reading up on Cape Wind that there were other alternatives. For example, tidal generators could generate power from the tidal fluctuations of Cape Cod, Buzzard Bay, even Boston Harbor. This could easily be used to augment, or even, in a state with as much coast as Massachusetts, replace the wind farm without infringing on people's views from their vacation homes (and how dare anyone consider besmirching that 1/2 vertical inch of horizon). It appears that I'm not the only one who thinks this way, as I read this morning that tidal power generation is being seriously considered for implementation in the San Francisco Bay. Now, to be fair, the San Francisco Bay has extremely strong currents and so is especially well suited to such methods and, even so, will only be generating 38 MW, whereas the Cape Wind project is projected to generate 420 MW (An increase in global wind power generation of over 700%!). The San Francisco proposal seems to be putting the turbines under the Golden Gate Bridge, approximately 19 acres of seabed, whereas Cape Wind will cover approximately 15 acres. This does suggest that wind power is significantly more efficient than tidal generation (1,400% more efficient, even), if more visually obtrusive. The difference is significant enough that I find it unlikely that any errors in estimation on my part cause much of a deviation from the actual fact. So really, the only possible argument against the Cape Wind project (assuming it's economically viable, which, really, it must be or no company would propose it and the various wind farms that exist all over the world wouldn't exist), is that some people might not like how it looks. And, having been to a number of places that have wind power, I have to say that argument doesn't hold much water; wind farms actually look pretty cool. So, as a measurement of general character as well as environmental friendliness, I find support, or lack thereof, of the Cape Wind project to be a pretty effective test of whether I like a candidate or not. So, if this were the only issue I were looking at, my rankings would probably be Patrick, Ross, Mihos, Healey. However my other important issues are economic policy, gay marriage / equal rights, and general commitment to basic freedoms. Taking those in mind (either weighted or unweighted) it comes out Mihos, Patrick, Ross, Healey. Sigh, politics are annoying.
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