Sunday, October 21, 2007

No electricity. Not yours.

Jayhawks and Downeasters linked arms in energy solidarity this month, rejecting proposals for two wildly different generating plants; wind turbines five miles offshore from Cape Cod and a coal-fired plant in Holcomb, Kansas.

"It's irresponsible to ignore the contribution of greenhouse gases to climate change and the potential harm to our environment and health," said Rod Bremby, secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, the organization that rejected Sunflower Electric Power's planned expansion of their existing generating plant.

"It's a watershed moment," said Bruce Niles, head of the Sierra Club's effort to cripple national electrical capacity. "Kansas joins Florida and California and other states to stake out a clean energy future based on renewable resources and rejects coal."

Dorothy Galesky, founder of the Kansas Statewide neo-Luddites and Gaians (SLaGs), attributes the KDHE's reaction to their awareness of a burgeoning environmental consciousness. “We've come to realize that we are the root cause of pollution. Utility companies wouldn't build these plants if consumers didn't expect to have electricity available whenever we plug in. Profiteers have conditioned us to think power should always be available, like tap water. It's time to rethink that paradigm. We're not in Kansas anymore. Just look.”

She waved her hand at the mall parking lot behind her, where, in the gathering darkness, a mob of enthusiastic locals hurled appliances and consumer electronics from the backs of SUVs onto a growing pile. Torches lit the scene with a lurid gleam.

“Electricity is overrated. They're discarding CD players in favor of making their own music- with flutes, guitars- acoustic guitars- , banjos, dulcimers and zithers. Look at all the TV's in that heap! Who needs television when we have community theater? Forget electric leaf blowers. Leaf rakes are selling like hotcakes at the hardware store. And this,” she held up an old Forgecraft chef's knife, “can do anything that food processor can do. I've been using mine for a month and just look at these guns!” she said, flexing her right forearm into a bulbous knot that would make Popeye proud.

Across the country, The Cape Cod Commission denied Cape Wind's application to bury electric cables to connect its proposed 420-megawatt offshore wind farm in Nantucket Sound to the state power grid. Cape residents might see some of the proposed 130 wind turbines on a clear day if they squinted or used binoculars. They, and environmental groups concerned about disrupting the patterns of migratory birds, oppose the project.

Maria Kopeck, Cape resident, spoke at a protest in Boston. “Let's not call wind a renewable resource without recognizing its tragic costs. I heard that somebody near a wind farm somewhere in California saw a seagull so confused by a turbine he dropped a rotten taco he was carrying and flew away hungry. That's just sad. We don't want that happening here.” She blotted tears of anticipatory hypothetical remorse from her ruddy cheeks with an organic hemp pocket handkerchief. “We know we've created the runaway power market by using more and more electricity. We've vowed to live in the dark from now on to atone for our profligate energy use.”

Residents of her Cape community do their best. “We go to bed when the sun goes down now, unless we have whale oil lamps, even though that makes for short days in the winter. It's so romantic, and good for the optometrists, too! We've removed streetlights and yard lights, and the increase in crime hasn't been that bad. We find stores at night just fine using our headlights. And don't get me started on traffic signals! We don't miss that monotonous red, green, and amber tyranny! The best thing of all is that we're free of the glare from the Chatham, Nauset and Highland lighthouses. We've been able to discard our windowshades entirely!”

The two activists plan to meet halfway, in Columbus, Ohio, next month to share power-free lifestyle hints and plan future protests against their latest casus belli, the washing of hands. “Contributions to public health aside, PETA has pointed out that some hand soaps are made from animal products,” Mary and Dorothy agreed. “This has been keeping us up at night.”