Thursday, March 08, 2007

Marsden B not to be

When the Marsden B power station was given a consent under the Resource Management Act in September 2005, it was a consent so encumbered with conditions it was essentially the consent you get when you don't really get a consent -- a consent for 35 years, and with a world record 160 conditions attached. The Northland Regional Council boasted of their work: "the restrictions are some of the toughest ever imposed in Australasia," and they said that like it was a good thing. So what plans now eighteen months later? Is Marsden B to be, or not to be? NBR has the answer:
Plans for a controversial coal fired power station at Marsden Point have been scrapped... The decision follows intense opposition from environmentalists and warnings from the Government it would face carbon based costs when the plant was finished. Although the Green Party congratulated Mighty River on "seeing the light", National [energy spokesman Gerry Brownlee] said the cancellation was partly a result of the "policy uncertainty" created by the government.
Surprise, surprise. This is a power station project mugged by economic reality -- or more accurately, political reality, which is to say, unreality. Strangled by the twin fictions of global warming and the need for carbon charges to fight it (and all the uncertainty around these charges), and choked to death by the environmental straitjacket of the Resource Management Act (and Gerry Brownlee might like to ask his National Party colleagues which government introduced that piece of work).

Author Ayn Rand once observed that when the productive have to ask permission from the unproductive in order to produce, then you may know that your culture is doomed. Are we there yet?

Well, in terms of power production we're already there. The Electricity Networks Association (ENA) warned several squelched projects ago that their principal objective of having enough power to meet demand is steadily being eroded. Warned Alan Jenkins from the ENA two years ago,
It's very hard to invest in coal [because of Kyoto], nuclear's a sort of four letter word... hydro is suddenly becoming too hard... what's left? ...we can't do everything on windpower.
No, we can't. Solar, wind and microgrids won't cut it, at least not as long as every project from little to large gets caught up in the maw of the RMA. Nine years ago I argued:
The greenies’ anti-development crusade reached its climax in this country with the RMA, an act making the future construction of necessary infrastructure (like power stations and hydro dams) virtually impossible. The anti-energy crusade has reached its climax with the Kyoto Protocol (signed by Simon Upton earlier this year), promising measures to strangle our existing infrastructure like power stations and industrial plants. Auckland's [1998] power crisis offers a precursor of what life will be like as a result of these measures - together, these bureaucratic monsters will act like a calicivirus on industry, and on all who depend on industry for their survival; which means all of us," said Libertarianz Environment Spokesman Peter Cresswell today.
Industry is the country's lifeblood, and if there's no power, there is no industry. Everyone's got an energy strategy: What we're short of is energy! So where's the power gonna come from?

UPDATE: George Reisman points out that the effect of global warming is already upon us -- that is, the legislative effect of the faith in global warming is already upon us, as our imminent power shortage makes clear enough. As Reisman says, Global Warming Is Not a Threat But the Environmentalist Response to It Is.

UPDATE 2: John Howard echoes the words of the ENA's Alan Jenkins:
Let's be realistic. You can only run power stations in a modern Western economy on fossil fuel, or, in time, nuclear power."\
LINKS: Marsden Point power station plan scrapped - NBR
No Power - Not PC (July, 2005)

RELATED:
Energy, RMA, Environment, Common Law, Global_Warming

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