Monday, June 26, 2006

I Guess It All Depends...

...on your definition of "progressive".

From the Boston Globe:

How embarrassing is this? Pro-environment, green-thinking Massachusetts has virtually shut the door to alternative energy developers such as Cape Wind. Meanwhile, oil-loving, redneck Texas is poised to build the nation's largest wind farm. Most of our local political establishment has united in opposition to wind. At the same time, Lone Star politicians are spearheading what they call the "Texas wind rush" in the Gulf of Mexico. Massachusetts was once in the fore-front of developing renewable energies. By the end of this year, Texas will probably be the number one source of wind power in the United States.

I can already hear the chants coming from the "We'll never be happy as long as Republicans are allowed to breathe" society:

"Evil, greedy wind corporations!"
"Fight Big Wind!"
"No blood for wind!"

Feel free to add your own.

John Calaway, head of Superior, recalls a "scouting mission" to the Berkshires several years ago. Local leaders told him it would be difficult to get the necessary permits, and Calaway mentioned how receptive Texas was to his plans. "'Boy,' I was told, 'you're not in Texas' - and that sent me running." Massachusetts, he tells me, no longer interests him. "Why would we waste our time?"


It's an old story. Businesses and investors go to places that want them, where the rules are predictable and local government supportive. don't say.

Still, that prompts the question, why are we so difficult? Leadership is one factor. [State Land Commissioner Jerry] Patterson sees wind as Texas's future - "recognizing that oil and gas will someday go away, we need to diversify our portfolio," he said at his recent press conference - and in his position as land commissioner, he controls most of the decisions relating to state lands and coastal waters. In Massachusetts, meanwhile, Ted Kennedy - the state's most powerful pol - adamantly opposes Cape Wind.

To the proponents of wind power here in Massachusetts, I'd say this - don't let this setback worry you too much right now. One just needs to recognize that (to paraphrase Mr. Patterson there) Ted Kennedy, too, will someday go away.

There are ironies here, too. Patterson built his reputation on the Second Amendment - it was his legislation that let Texans carry concealed weapons - but here he is, on the side of the crunchies. The great liberal Kennedy, meanwhile, may be wind power's most visible opponent nationwide.

That's ironic? It seems to me that Patterson's shown himself to be consistently on the side of doing what's in the best interest of the people he represents, unlike a certain aforementioned senator.

That's not irony. That's just how it is.

Granted, I would never expect Massachusetts to be high on the list of locations where wind-based energy firms would want to set up shop, especially when compared to a state like Texas. There's the simple matter of geography to deal with. More open space = more money.

But, the irony of the Bay State being "out-progressived" by Texas, of all places, sure tastes good this morning.