Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Wind power can reduce global warming

Posted By on Wed, Nov 28, 2012 at 2:15 PM

Wind energy, Drake Power Plant, oil and gas regulations

Perhaps it's appropriate that today Environment Colorado released a report from the Environment America Research and Policy Center that concludes that:

"Coal- and natural gas-fired power plants pollute our air, are major contributors to global warming and consume vast amounts of water — harming our rivers and lakes and leaving less water for other uses. Wind energy has none of these problems. It produces no air pollution, makes no contribution to global warming and uses no water."

So begins the "Wind Power for a Cleaner America" report, a copy of which is here:

The reason the report is appropriate at this time is two-fold:

First, last night, the Colorado Springs City Council adopted an ordinance that clears the way for oil and gas drilling within the city limits. The vote was 6-3. Councilors Jan Martin and Val Snider opposed the regulations based on concerns for the environment, while Council President Scott Hente voted no, because he doesn't like the state telling the city, which has home-rule powers, what it can and can't do to regulate land use.

The vote means that come January, Ultra Resources of Houston can proceed with drilling two wells for which the state has granted permits on the Banning Lewis Ranch in eastern Colorado Springs. The company undoubtedly will be applying for additional permits as well. Too, other companies possess mineral rights in El Paso County and are interested in drilling.

Second, the City Council is reportedly negotiating with the Sierra Club to delay installing emissions control equipment on coal-fired Drake Power Plant until a study is completed about how to replace the plant and when. We reported on that here.

So it seems like a breath of fresh air to find out that we can escape the travails of fossil fuels by simply relying on wind.

The report says that America has more than doubled use of wind power since 2008, and that wind has displaced the equivalent of the pollution created by 13 million cars.

But here's what I don't understand. If it's true as the report says that wind energy makes no contribution to air pollution, what kind of power is fueling the factories that crank out the wind turbines, windmills and transmission lines required to create wind energy?

We asked that question, and got this response from Anneli Berube, regional field organizer with Environment Colorado:

Perhaps we should have been a little clearer. At the point of generation, wind produces no pollution or consumes no water. You are right that the manufacture of wind turbines and the transporting of them uses energy; which would yield some environmental impacts. But, energy is used to make fossil fuel and nuclear plants, energy is used in the extraction of fuels during mining and drilling, and energy is used to transport the fuels to the plants, all of which also have additional environmental impacts from those sources which we did not include in the comparison. The same is true for the transmission lines.

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