There Is Power in an Expedited Permitting Process

Billy Bragg, the very good and very, very left-wing folk singer from England, performed “There is Power in a Union,” on the opening day of this year’s Newport Folk Festival.  His intro, like so many others, made a political point about solidarity and such.

NPR has the clip from the August 1 performance. Billy Bragg:

Unbelievably, they are closing down the only factory in my country that makes wind turbines. We live in a wet, windy island. All the weather you don’t want comes and gets dumped on us. It rains, it pours, tides come, tides go, and we still in my country haven’t quite got it together yet to use that renewable energy. But a brand new synergy is coming together in the resistance to the closing down of this factory. The green movement is meeting the labor movement together, and they’re making a new kind red-green coalition, and to fight for the environment and for jobs based in the environment. And it’s really great to see young green activists coming to realize there’s power in a union.

The New York Times’ Climate Wire blog reported on the closure of the Isle of Wight plant yesterday, “Favorable Political Winds Blow E.U. Turbine Producers to the U.S.“:

Vestas took the decision following the U.K. government’s commitment last year to produce 35 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020. That level is currently 4 percent.

But now the company says the local planning process for the construction of new onshore wind power plants in the United Kingdom “remains an obstacle to the development of a more favorable market,” despite excellent wind conditions. “Since offshore wind power is still on a project basis, a large and stable market for onshore wind power is vital to secure a stable production flow,” Vestas said.

At least 273 wind power projects totaling nearly 9,500 megawatts are stuck in the planning stages in Britain despite government promises to speed things up, according to the British Wind Energy Association. It takes an average of 15 to 20 months to win a wind farm permit in England and far longer in Scotland and Northern Ireland, where the bulk of the wind farms are being developed.

So will we see this new red-green coalition fighting for expedited siting processes? Billy?

It’s an excellent article, by the way, also highlighting Vestas’ expectation that the Obama Administration’s environmental and energy policies will create a market for the company’s wind turbines. Vestas wants a renewable portfolio standard to lock in its advantages.

UPDATE (5:08 p.m.): Chris Horner of the Competitive Enterprise Institute reads the Times story and asks, weren’t these “green jobs” supposed to be secure?


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