What do rocket scientists do when a bad idea blows up on the launching
pad? They go back to the drawing board.
Last weeks announcement by the FAA that it would not approve plans
for a $30 million biomass power plant next to Cherry Capital Airport
in Traverse City confirmed the suspicions of critics that any number
of things could go wrong with a plan to burn the regions forests for
You know: the seven truckloads per day of timber rumbling through
town, the smoke from the plant, what to do with the ash refuse, TCLPs
dubious survey, the impact on our forests... all of this has been
discussed at length in recent months with warnings from the public
that have been resolutely ignored.
Yet hopefully, the FAA ruling will pull the community together to
discuss better alternatives for electrical power in the region.
At TCLPs forum meetings, for instance, one got the feeling that wind
power was dismissed almost out of hand under the rationale that local
citizens might raise a fuss over wind towers. Why not find out for
sure before we ditch such an obvious alternative on our windy Great
And our region is preparing to spend as much as $30 million to remove
the hydroelectric dams on the Boardman River at a time when an
entrepreneur has requested a chance to renovate one of the dams with
private funding. Why not revisit that option before pulling the plug
on hydro power?
TLCPs trump card in response to these questions is that neither would
provide the continuous baseload power needed to supply Traverse
City. Although a natural gas plant could supply the necessary
baseload, supplemented by wind and water power, this too has been shot
down under the rationale that the cost of natural gas may rise in the
So what the public has been served often seems to be a lot of mights
and maybes in TLCPs rebuke of wind, water and natural gas
resources. Yet, given that biomass has already been problematical from
the get-go, these options deserve a closer look.
In June, NMEAC (Northern Michigan Environmental Action Council) is
hosting a Smart Community Energy Initiative to seek better
alternatives for providing power to the area. If youd like to get
involved, check out the details at http://nmeac.org or write
Black Like Me
A politicians habit of planting a token black American in the
background of a TV commercial for the sake of diversity has backfired
for one Michigan candidate for governor.
Derek Moss, who serves as vice chair of the Michigan Republican Party,
was surprised to find a commercial of himself walking with candidate
Mike Cox. The spot makes it look as if Moss is hanging onto every word
in an attack ad directed at Rep. Pete Hoekstra, who is also running
Moss, who is black and is currently serving as an officer with the
U.S. Army National Guard in Kosovo, endorsed Republican candidate Rick
Snyder before heading overseas. He says he finds it appalling that
he (Cox) is using my image in a shameful attack ad of another
candidate, and that he is a very proud supporter of Snyder.
The clip of Moss was pulled from the ad last week.
Its appropriate that minorities are included in political
commercials, but sometimes the stereotypes seem more funny than
Democrats, for instance, always seem to include male, middle-aged
factory workers in baseball caps, nodding earnestly as the candidate
explains his brilliant plan for change. Possibly, this is meant to
shore up ambivalence toward the party by all of the so-called angry
white men out there.
And you get the impression that events such as the Republican response
to the annual State of the Union speech would be as doughy white as
the audience of Rush Limbaughs old TV talk show, were it not for a
few minority representatives carefully inserted at strategic camera
angles in the crowd.
Anyone want to bet that a lot more Latinos will be showing up in the
campaign commercials of both parties this fall?
But is it eco-logical?
Is it possible to be eco-industrial, or is that the ultimate oxymoron?
In any event, the Gaylord Herald-Times reports that a group known as
Eco Park Partners, LLC hopes to establish Michigan‘s flagship
eco-industrial park with a new biomass plant, lumber yard and wood
pellet factory at the site of the former Georgia-Pacific plywood
This will include $120 to $152 million in private investment on the
933-acre site and the developers plan to create a Center for
Environmentally Sustainable Studies aimed at creating green jobs,
power generation and development of eco-industrial parks.
Taken with all of the other overlapping biomass plans for Michigan, it
makes you wonder how long it will be before Northern Michigan and the
U.P. are denuded of their forests and as drab as the southern half of
Even in job-hungry Gaylord, not everyone is thrilled with the idea.
Heres an abridged quote by a blogger named Guillermo on the
Herald-Times website: Biomass? What a joke... Like the one I heard
about corn ethanol. Burning our food in our Hummers? This is another
step toward Michigan whoring-out its commonweal (forests, in this
case) in the name of Progress (read: rich get richer).
Check out Robert Downes travel website/blog at www.planetbackpacker.net