Promote Energy Intelligence: July 22, 2007

Our approach to the smorgasbord of emerging technologies should be opportunistic but also measured and thoughtful, because technology’s “bleeding edge” can do us harm.

Global warming will likely bring us more severe storms, greater winter flooding, and dryer summers. It is imperative that we secure and conserve our supplies of fresh water, and preserve and maintain our aquifers, watercourses, and wetlands, keeping our streams clear of debris and silt and our waters unpolluted. The Town of Woodstock should continue its 20-year effort to aid and press for property owners’ removal of buried oil tanks. We should also bury our power lines, where feasible, to counter the outages caused by storm damage, which will only increase.

Woodstock’s stated goal of carbon neutrality within ten years is an exciting challenge. To achieve this, Woodstock will need to replace a significant portion of its current fossil fuel usage with a mix of energy sources, including battery-electric, solar, and (possibly) wind and hydrogen. Our approach to the smorgasbord of emerging technologies should be opportunistic but also measured and thoughtful, because technology’s “bleeding edge” can do us harm. By over-reliance on a solution not fully worked-out, the Town could jeopardize its finances and hamper its ability to undertake other energy-efficient projects.

The promotion of the current generation of biofuels, beneficial to politically important farming lobbies, could well lead to massive deforestation and a worldwide decrease in food production, especially in countries where famine already exists. Moreover, recent studies indicate the use of bioethanol as a component of fuel for transport would cause at least as much health damage as gasoline. Biodiesel, emitting 10% more nitrogen oxide than in low-sulfur diesel, produces ozone and contributes to smog. Because securing a consistently clean supply remains problematic, biodiesel can clog engine filters and fuel injection pipes.

What we can do individually is to actively support the use of less fuel, less plastic, less water, less electricity; car pool and otherwise decrease our engine use; support local agriculture and commerce. As a Town, we might consider the feasibility of a Woodstock bus line with north-south and east-west loops, which, while reducing net fuel usage, would enable youths and seniors to be more independently mobile. These are many ideas we can, and should, explore as a Town, that relate to the eighth and final plank in my platform as candidate for Town Supervisor: Promote Energy Intelligence.

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