Van der Vaart: Restrict Solar, incentivize nuclear

Apparently our definition of the word "clean" has been wrong until now:

One proposal discussed Wednesday would require a state permit for any new solar farm. That would give the state the final say on whether a property owner can lease his or her land for solar. It would also require a bond for eventual removal of the equipment.

"We are a huge solar state, and we have to put our big boy pants on and treat it as such," Secretary of Environmental Quality Donald van der Vaart told the Energy Policy Council.

Where do I start? I'm tempted to start with "big boy pants," but that's so stupid it could derail the entire conversation. How about: When Bev Perdue was still Governor but the GOP had taken over the Legislature, that august body engaged in a fact-finding tour, with the sole purpose of undermining DENR. Witness after witness whined about the over-regulation of the environmental agency, and how the sluggish permitting process was stifling economic growth. And now the new Secretary is proposing to do just that; clamp down on property owners and "control" the growth of Solar via bureaucratic delays and costly (and unnecessary) safety protocols. If irony was a toxic substance, we'd all be dead by now. But even worse, van der Vaart's alternative could actually kill us:

A second proposal would redefine the state's renewable energy standard to include nuclear energy. The proposed "clean energy standard" would even allow incentives for new nuclear plants, which van der Vaart said are needed to back up less dependable sources such as solar.

"Simply recognizing that nuclear energy is clean and needs to be incentivized, that is what the renewable energy portfolio standard is for," he said. "This is meant to expand our portfolio."

Chatham County homeowner Sharon Garbutt, who lives 17 miles from the Shearon Harris nuclear plant in southwest Wake County, told the panel she doesn't agree. "If it's clean energy, why do they need sirens to warn people in the event of an accident at that plant?" Garbutt said. "The idea of nuclear energy being clean is ludicrous."

It's neither clean nor safe. Fukushima was strike three, preceded by 3-mile Island and Chernobyl. Yet our top environmental protector is gaga over nuclear. On top of that, nuclear plant construction is so heinously expensive, for any incentive plan to actually work, it would require a couple of billion dollars to sweeten the deal. The logical part of my brain tells me the GOP-led General Assembly would never go for that. But they've defied logic so many times in the past anything could happen.

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Carter Wrenn

Here's what Carter Wrenn thinks about Mr. Van der Vaart:

The Chief Environmental Officer for all of North Carolina thinks nuclear waste, which has to be buried under a mountain in Nevada for a thousand years and glows in the dark, is clean energy.

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The measure of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little. - FDR