Like EU, Washington Opts for Action, not Treaties
After years of national and local debate, Washington has approved the country’s first off-shore wind farm – an important step for the U.S. in catching up with developments in Europe.
Approved by U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, the Cape Wind project -- 130 wind towers each 440 feet tall -- will occupy a 25-square-mile section of Nantucket Sound in Massachusetts. It promises to provide 75 percent of the electricity required by the nearest part of the coast — the equivalent of the output of a medium-size coal-fired plant.
When congressional Democrats mandated a National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) assessing climate change’s potential effect on national security, Republicans accused them of caring more about “bugs and bunnies” than hunting for al Qaeda. The effort to prevent the estimate failed, but the project is in train during 2007. The episode did however raise important questions about the role of U.S. intelligence in subjects not traditionally associated with secrets or “spook-dom.” Congresswoman Jane Harman, a California Democrat and the former ranking member on the Intelligence panel, defended the idea of an estimate: “This isn’t bugs or bunnies, it is survival or destruction. Droughts affect the stability of governments, and stability of governments is one of the few things we need to know about.” But Republicans dismissed the study as too “politically correct,” and said the call for an estimate was redundant because numerous government organizations already study the issue. To be sure, an estimate or other assessment by U.S. intelligence will not add to the science about global warming. On the science, U.S. intelligence will be a consumer, not a producer. It will not be able to add to what the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and other august scientific bodies have produced.
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