Thursday, July 19, 2012

From Gaslands to Baywind

Gaslands the documentary was shown recently at a nearby library in Nassau County, New York where I've been visiting this July, back in the US from Brazil.  The devastating account by Josh Fox of Pennsylvania about communities across the US where corporations have been drilling and practicing "hydraulic fracturing" or fracking, shows pervasive and deadly contamination not just of water but also of the air.  The tragic suffering of too many people from toxic chemicals is just heartbreaking and outrageous.  A call to action it is, and I've been getting emails for awhile now that I value even more.  Love Canal, New York in 1978 was a community contaminated to a comparable degree in a less systematic situation, though the pervasiveness of toxic contamination is clear from the Superfund toxic waste identification legislation that passed soon after.  I worked briefly for the PIRGs in the 1980s and 1990s and we were working on those issues already at those times.
       Besides organizing to prevent and end fracking, I submit we need to keep clear the opportunities to advance decentralized renewable energy.

England's Baywind co-op was spurred by a Swedish enterprise in the 1990s.  The British citizens have shown a spirit of initiative worthy of Ian Fleming's fictional James Bond.

Consider this:  Westmill Wind Farm, in South Oxfordshire is built on land owned by Adam Twine, an organic farmer. The project consists of five 1.3MW turbines, capable of generating sufficient electricity for the equivalent of 2,500 homes. It is the largest 100% community-owned wind farm in the UK, taking over that title from Baywind Energy Co-op in Cumbria which has existed since 1996.
Adam Twine had wanted a wind farm (preferably community owned) on his land for many years and by the time it was finally built in 2008 he had invested a great deal of his own time, effort and money to bring his dream to fruition. The planning process dragged on for many years against some fierce opposition but eventually consent was given for the project to proceed, to the delight of the enthusiastic group of local activists who had campaigned for a local wind farm....  

Baywind on youtube:

Things have been happening in the US too.

Check out Co-op Power in Massachusetts for example:


Co-op Power hosted a Community Finance Summit July 14th and July 15th in Northampton.  Every day, the decisions we make about how we spend and save and invest our money shape our local economy.  We learned how to move our money from Wall Street to Main Street to transition to a more just and sustainable future.  Michael Shuman, author of Local Dollars, Local Sense, was the featured speaker. We also heard from John Cronin from the Vermont Securities Administration, Sara Ross from SunGage, Glynn Lloyd from City Fresh Foods, Mark Hensley, Todd Ford from Hampshire County Council of Governments, Rochelle Prunty from River Valley Market, and Lynn Benander, Christian Lagier, and Shakoor Aljuwani from Co-op Power.

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