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EPA To Reuse Toxic Sites For Renewable Energy

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the brown-to-green dept.

Earth 183

Hugh Pickens writes:"The Daily Climate reports that President Obama and Congress are pushing to identify thousands of contaminated landfills and abandoned mines — 'brownfields' that could be repurposed to house wind farms, solar arrays, and geothermal power plants. Using already disturbed lands would help avoid conflicts between renewable energy developers and environmental groups concerned about impacts to wildlife habitat. 'In the next decade there's going to be a lot of renewable energy built, and all that has to go somewhere,' said Jessica Goad, an energy and climate change policy fellow for The Wilderness Society. 'We don't want to see these industrial facilities placed on land that's pristine. We love the idea of brownfields for renewable energy development because it relieves the (development) pressure on undisturbed places. The Environmental Protection Agency and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory have identified nearly 4,100 contaminated sites deemed economically suitable for wind and solar power development, as well as biomass. Included are 5 million acres suitable for photovoltaic or concentrated solar power development, and 500,000 acres for wind power. These sites, if fully developed, have the potential to produce 950,000 megawatts — more than the country's total power needs in 2007, according to EPA data."

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183 comments

cool (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29727543)

cool

Re:cool (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29727671)

Why do niggers always have tinted windows? They don't, it's just the black rubbing off.

Superfund (1, Insightful)

kenh (9056) | more than 4 years ago | (#29727575)

Is there a reason this green and earth-friendly administration won't clean these so-called "brownfields" up? They'd rather leave them polluted and build crucial infrastructure on top of them? And when the pollution is deemed unacceptable, they'll knock down these fabulous green investments and then rebuild them after the clean-up. Brilliant! (And possibly shovel-ready, too!)

Re:Superfund (1, Flamebait)

kenh (9056) | more than 4 years ago | (#29727619)

Just noticed, they are proposing this to get around concerns of the environmental groups... Interesting. If a Republican did this they'd claim he was sacrificing the planet to enrich thier friends in the energy business, except these folks are doing it to enrich their friends in the "green" energy business, so I guess it's all right.

Re:Superfund (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29727881)

Stupid strawman argument. Try learning what a logical fallacy is, then post something intelligent.

Re:Superfund (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29727625)

Some of these places could never be truly cleaned up. You'd essentially have to ship the top 500 feet of soil and rock of the entire areas to China or India, but even that's just moving the problem away from the USA.

Re:Superfund (3, Insightful)

khallow (566160) | more than 4 years ago | (#29727951)

Some of these places could never be truly cleaned up. You'd essentially have to ship the top 500 feet of soil and rock of the entire areas to China or India, but even that's just moving the problem away from the USA.

Why clean them up either? At least this policy abandons the idea that every bit of land should be returned to some sort of pristine state.

Re:Superfund (1)

Triela (773061) | more than 4 years ago | (#29728169)

You'd essentially have to ship the top 500 feet of soil and rock of the entire areas to China or India, but even that's just moving the problem away from the USA.

I'm all for it. Evidence predicts that it will be handled no worse, with a drop in accent comprehension, but a huge benefit in hourly wage expenditures.

Re:Superfund (2, Insightful)

incognito84 (903401) | more than 4 years ago | (#29728247)

It won't even make it to China. They're going to drop it in the ocean a few miles off the coast and say they took it to China.

Maybe they'll make a new island and turn it into a Disneyland to draw attention away from the obvious.

Re:Superfund (5, Insightful)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 4 years ago | (#29728477)

If it's that bad, why not build a nuclear power plant there instead? It's not like NIMBY would be a factor anymore, would it?

Re:Superfund (0, Flamebait)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 4 years ago | (#29728945)

Who is Nimby and why isn't he a factor anymore? Is he maybe a superhero who died in a nuclear power plant accident?

In seriousness, "Not in my backyard" shouldn't -logically- be a reason the community would object to a nuclear power plant on a superfund site, but there's significant keyword in there. I'm not being elitist here, I would be hesitant to allow a nuclear power plant in my neighborhood even if it were a superfund site. I know that would be stupid and illogical. Still wouldn't be able to shake the feeling that the thing was going to blow up and kill my family.

Re:Superfund (5, Interesting)

Mashhaster (1396287) | more than 4 years ago | (#29727631)

We're talking billions of tons of contaminated soil, water, radioactive waste, old landfills. What do you propose is done with it? Where is it going to go when they "clean it up"? Personally, I love this idea. Renewable energy, and using otherwise unusable resources? I don't see what's not to like.

Re:Superfund (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29727735)

What not to like: The possibility that some advances in technology would make it feasible to clean up said billions of tons of contamination... prevented from being used to clean it up by new infrastructure built on top of the contamination.

Re:Superfund (2, Insightful)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 4 years ago | (#29728651)

The workers will be exposed and take material home from the site, trapped in clothing for a loved one to wash.
Their shoes would also walk in material, exposing any children. The the 15-25 year exposure time adds up.
But its not mommy or daddy who started work at 35 yo.
Start counting from 0-3 years and its lump or blood time around 20-40 yo.

Re:Superfund (3, Insightful)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 4 years ago | (#29727705)

Because cleaning them is next to impossible or just too costly. We humans can fuck things up really well, so well that we can't always fix them afterwards.

Seems a better idea than cleaning them to whatever the maximum contamination level is by todays standards and then building houses on top. Ten years later the standards have been changed due to new research/etc and you have an entire suburb at above safe limit contamination.

One big drawback of lots of these alternative energy methods is space - you can build a nuke plant or a coal plant to provide the same amount of energy with a much smaller amount of space. Using land that is otherwise unusable seems a good idea.

And of course I'm sure the people/companies who own that worthless (in some cases negative worth since the cleanup costs dwarf the value) making lots of campaign contributions also helped.

Re:Superfund (4, Interesting)

MikeURL (890801) | more than 4 years ago | (#29728309)

I sometimes wonder if there is not nearly enough research going into what it takes to simply break down a toxic molecule into something less (or non) toxic.

Every chemical that can be created can be "un"created.But the standard treatment protocol for Superfund sites is to package up everything toxic and bury it somewhere else. I'm sure that suits some deeply ingrained desire we have to bury bad things but I'm not so sure it is the best thing to do from either a health or even a net energy perspective.

We'd be in a far better world if every chemical, before it was approved, had to have a process available that would completely remove it from the environment if needed. Think along the lines of catalytic converters.

Re:Superfund (1)

Com2Kid (142006) | more than 4 years ago | (#29728457)

On a pretty regular basis /. has stories about research progressing just towards breaking down various types of toxis waste.

After a certain point though, you end up with either very simple molecules or just crap like lead that you can't break down any more. A lot of effort went into gathering up some of the component materials and concentrating them together for whatever reason. Aside from reburying stuff in the ground (which if you think about it, is exactly what half the cleanup proposals are!) there isn't much that can be done with matter in such a simplified form.

Re:Superfund (4, Informative)

Huntr (951770) | more than 4 years ago | (#29727729)

They're putting the windmills in post-cleanup, big boy. Sites have to be cleaned up, but people don't necessarily want to build on them. This is using the sites after they've been cleaned.

Re:Superfund (1)

Shadow of Eternity (795165) | more than 4 years ago | (#29728119)

Oh ffs why was this hidden by the posting system? I've got it set to not filter or hide ANYTHING and yet it still insists on FORCING me to be unable to see hidden posts until I click "parent" on an orphan post, and it won't let me move the "#full||#hidden" slider to unhide any.

Wtf slashdot?

Re:Superfund (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29728219)

Shut up, dumbass.

-- CmdrTaco

Re:Superfund (1)

genericpoweruser (1223032) | more than 4 years ago | (#29728637)

You're not the only one with that problem. I find it extremely irritable. Especially since, for some reason (probably a misconfigured NoScript), it makes me load a new page when I click "parent."

Re:Superfund (4, Insightful)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 4 years ago | (#29728345)

Uhhh - you're trying to pretend that Obama has money to clean up all those sites, after several administrations have passed the buck, and done nothing? Get real. BTW - a lot of those sites are being cleaned up naturally anyway. Bacteria, nematodes, wildlife, sunshine, rain and wind all work to decompose and recycle a lot of the waste that has gone into the ground. Putting up something like a windfarm will tend to isolate those areas until nature has finished cleaning up our mess.

Re:Superfund (1)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 4 years ago | (#29728597)

Clean up is just too expensive. Every wonder why you never hear about it on the US news?
Heavy metals, PCB's ect?, they did not all just vanish in the dot com boom.
Better just to mix in good top soil, pave, take a few safe clean samples and build green tech on top.
Any workers on the site would be see as disposable as the original workers- long term staff, mechanics, engineers.
Residents are all ready gone or in cancer cluster.
National sacrifice area lite for you.

Clean up is good for a lower middle class district before an election.

Re:Superfund (2, Interesting)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 4 years ago | (#29729807)

kenh, you obviously do not know what it would take to "clean up" some of these situations. I used to work for a company that did hazardous waste remediation for the EPA, and I do have some idea.

If effect, the Obama admistration is trying to take some things that are nearly, or in some cases absolutely, hopeless, and turn them to good.

If you want to look at how "cleanup" has progressed at superfund sites, you can. The information is available on the net. Be prepared for a very depressing day.

Won't be all of 'em though. (2, Insightful)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 4 years ago | (#29727615)

And open pit mine would be a pretty rotten place for a wind farm OR a solar field.

Might make a good site for an orbital solar power downlink rectenna, though.

Re:Won't be all of 'em though. (5, Funny)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 4 years ago | (#29727693)

You fill it with nuclear waste first, obviously.

Re:Won't be all of 'em though. (4, Interesting)

bradbury (33372) | more than 4 years ago | (#29728277)

If one used the spare power to transmute the nuclear waste into useful non-radioactive materials then it wouldn't be "waste" anymore. The concept that the U.S. is power limited is completely false. A recent PNAS paper showed that the U.S. could supply 14x its *entire* electricity production using only high value wind power sites. Use the extra electricity to transmute the nuclear waste and one of the entire arguments against nuclear power disappears [1]. Then it becomes a simple economic discussion as to whether its better to build remote wind farms and superconducting cables to make the power available at distant cities, or build nuclear reactors closer to the cities where one could take advantage of existing transmission infrastructure. If you want to give a gift to ones children start thinking in terms of "free" green energy.

1. Also worth noting is that either laser or tokamak fusion power might come into the mix over the next decade. But that doesn't minimize the advantages in U.S. jobs and infrastructure that would result from building up wind, tidal & solar generating capacity as well as superconducting transmission infrastructure. What is required is to break the coal, oil & gas monopoly mindset. If its taking carbon out of the ground and putting it into the atmosphere it is *not* sustainable. Not unless your definition of "sustainable" involves killing off a lot of species and a fair number of humans.

Re:Won't be all of 'em though. (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 4 years ago | (#29728441)

Has anybody looked into what "harvesting" all this wind is gonna do to the environment? I'm all for trying out new ideas and definitely think we should be doing everything to get rid of coal, but I also remember my history. After all, in the the 20th century we thought building millions of combustion engines was just hunky dory since it all just went "poof" into the wild blue yonder, and some moron thought it was a great idea to bring African bees to Brazil and Kudzu to the south, and those ideas turned out to be...well not so good.

I'm just worried that since we humans aren't known for spotting the "uh ohs" for decades or even centuries it would be a shame to try to fix one ecological disaster and end up causing something just as nasty. With solar I have much less concern since that sunlight is just gonna hit the ground anyway, and there are ways like using mirrors and molten salt generators where we can build solar power without the limited lifespan of solar cells, which of course use fossil fuels to create. But with all this talk of the entire planet harvesting wind I don't think I've seen so much as a single study on what taking the large chunks of energy out of the wind will do to our planet. It would really suck if we just traded one "uh oh" for another.

Re:Won't be all of 'em though. (2, Informative)

rcw-home (122017) | more than 4 years ago | (#29728639)

But with all this talk of the entire planet harvesting wind I don't think I've seen so much as a single study on what taking the large chunks of energy out of the wind will do to our planet.

You misspelled "insignificantly small chunks [noaa.gov] ". And we've already taken out not-quite-as-insignificantly small chunks by building billions of houses.

It would really suck if we just traded one "uh oh" for another.

Every method of energy production has an environmental impact. That is a red herring. A useful discussion will center around which set of environmental impacts can be most easily tolerated.

Re:Won't be all of 'em though. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29728775)

And we've already taken out not-quite-as-insignificantly small chunks by building billions of houses.

This is nothing compared to the opposite effect from all the wind-absorbing trees we've cut down in order to make room for those houses, lawns, pastures, roads, parking lots, etc.

On a windy day, compare walking in a big city to walking in a forest. When it comes to wind abatement, smooth-sided, rigid buildings have nothing on trees, with their nice, fractal, flexible shapes. The same goes for windmills -- they have nothing on trees, and wind farms will cover only a fraction of the land once covered by primeval forest.

[I mention this because idiots find a windy city or parking lot easier to understand than Watts and Joules.]

Re:Won't be all of 'em though. (2, Funny)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 4 years ago | (#29728571)

Best just to put it in a big hole for future generations.

If it's really that bad it must be more radioactive than plain old uranium ore (since otherwise putting it back in the ground would be a no brainer) and hence it would be a better fuel source.

At least we can leave something for the great-grand children. And nuclear waste piles seems like the ideal gift.

But I was trying to make a joke...

Re:Won't be all of 'em though. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29728317)

And when you eventually decommission the solar array, you don't even need to tear it down, just let it stand.

Re:Won't be all of 'em though. (2, Interesting)

jeffb (2.718) (1189693) | more than 4 years ago | (#29727931)

Seems like it could make a heck of a foundation for a solar concentrator mirror array...

Irony (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29727641)

It's ironic that when an article on some corporation with solar aspirations is criticized (vaporware, waiting 10 years, etc.), but Obama will be hailed as Jesus Christ in the next 700+ posts without a single viable solar project under his belt.

 

Re:Irony (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29727913)

Shut the hell up troll.

Re:Irony (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29728049)

Truth hurts, huh?

Re:Irony (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29728089)

quit arguing with myself!

Re:Irony (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29728113)

No truth from trolls by definition. Get back under your bridge.

Re:Irony (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29728755)

I have yet to see it, and it's already 81 posts in, troll.

Cleanup bill (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29727689)

Do the clean, renewable energy project get to pick up the bill for the clean up? What about the long term liability for contamination remaining after the clean up? In the long term, is there any increased risk of illness, like cancer, to the employees of the renewable energy projects? I'm sure these issues can be easily addressed to ensure that no liability is passed onto these projects. I didn't see them discussed in the article and admit being too lazy to research the EPA site for answers...

   

Re:Cleanup bill (1)

magarity (164372) | more than 4 years ago | (#29727793)

Do the clean, renewable energy project get to pick up the bill for the clean up?
 
You mean: "do the taxpayers pick up the bill for the cleanup?" Renewable energy is not economically feasible so it's already a taxpayer burden in the first place.

Re:Cleanup bill (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#29727811)

Do the clean, renewable energy project get to pick up the bill for the clean up?

You mean: "do the taxpayers pick up the bill for the cleanup?" Renewable energy is not economically feasible so it's already a taxpayer burden in the first place.

So when the oil and uranium runs out we're all dead, right?

Re:Cleanup bill (2, Informative)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#29728063)

In about 500 years when they run out, sure, we will all be dead. But you fail to see that technology is always improving. While the parent is correct in saying that in 2009 renewable energy is not economically feasible, but by mixing together independently developed technology from other disciplines, in 30 more years it may be very feasible, all without wasting taxpayer money in a black hole of waste. The government has already put in as much funds as it needs because the seeds have already been planted. Commercial space travel and commercial space satellites will increase the demand for more efficient solar panels, this will lead to more privatized and focused research and in time lower cost and higher yield. Just look at computers, even though governments planted the seeds for development, it was the private sector that made them affordable, reliable and useful.

Re:Cleanup bill (1)

Saint Fnordius (456567) | more than 4 years ago | (#29729051)

Well, here in Germany there are lots of wind farms, and to be honest they have almost no personnel on them. Windmills and solar parks have very low maintenance costs - the only real personnel you would need full time would be perimeter guards (which the current sites need anyhow). From what I gather, this plan would be best on sites where clean-up is nigh impossible, like the toxic landfills. Places where the only real solution is to let them go fallow, or where even after clean-up remain unwanted, so why not put up a bunch of windmills?

How were these determined to be economical (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29727699)

Really they have been determined to be politcally suitable. Government cannot calculate and determine if something is economical because they do not fall in the realm of profit/loss. I like the idea of reusing the land but that statement cannot be correct.

Re:How were these determined to be economical (2, Interesting)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#29728081)

Srsly? Governments don't always have to calculate if something is economical, at least not in a narrow sense, because they are more or less the entity set up to deal with situations where private economic calculation is insufficient; but there is absolutely nothing stopping them from using exactly the same tools to evaluate a potential project's economic prospects that a private sector actor would.

One cannot know for certain that a given plan is economic until it is tried, sometimes things go better than forecast, sometimes worse; but that isn't a uniquely public sector problem.

Liberal Bias.... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29727709)

I thought liberals are supposed to be open-minded to all speech from all persons? Then why is commentary negative to Obama deleted immediately? I guess the open-mindedness is only when they agree with the commentary.

God bless,
Mark.

Re:Liberal Bias.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29727743)

Kill yourself, troll.

Re:Liberal Bias.... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29727799)

It's ironic that liberals complains about FOX NEWS non-step, yet liberals have 3 other news channels that overwhelmingly DEMOCRAT!!! --- but not a single peep about liberal BIAS!!!!

ALSO.... Slashdot and Wikipedia are BIAS toward SERBIA...

Proves that DEMOCRAT ALWAYS SUPPORT the DICTATOR!!!

God Bless,
Mark

Re:Liberal Bias.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29728983)

Please stop misusing 'ironic'. Thank you. PS: Please stop being an inflammatory partisan relic. Stop limiting yourself and get an education. Thanks again. Greg

Re:Liberal Bias.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29727909)

Why DONT YOU come here and put up FISTS?! DIE BITCH!!!

God Bless,
Mark

Re:Liberal Bias.... (1)

Saint Fnordius (456567) | more than 4 years ago | (#29729083)

First, this is Slashdot. Political positions are irrelevant, it's about the tech and the geek factor. Second, the slashcode ratings system doesn't delete, but allows for comments to be moderated. Most readers choose not to view comments below a certain threshold, but the comments are still there. Thus I suspect you are merely concern-trolling without actually bothering to understand how this comment system works.

I think it's a great idea (5, Insightful)

HangingChad (677530) | more than 4 years ago | (#29727737)

Using already disturbed lands would help avoid conflicts between renewable energy developers and environmental groups concerned about impacts to wildlife habitat.

I used to work in toxics cleanup and I think that's a brilliant idea. A lot of hazardous materials are more risk to dig up than just leave alone. That would put the land to some practical use and restore value to the surrounding communities, many of which were blighted by the proximity to the contamination (whether justified by actual exposure risk or not). And, oh by the way, turn that otherwise unusable ground into jobs and non-polluting energy.

So whatever led to the consideration of these sites, it's a winner. The fact no one will seriously be able to challenge the site selection on environmental grounds will simply speed getting the shovels into the ground.

This is a great idea. Whoever thought it up should get a prize.

Re:I think it's a great idea (3, Interesting)

AugstWest (79042) | more than 4 years ago | (#29727893)

1) Yes, it's a great idea.

2) PLEASE do not call it "brownfields."

We don't need doublespeak. It's a good idea, don't hide it behind some useless term like "brownfield."

Call it a "contaminated site," people can get behind that. Don't create more battles for yourselves, and don't give your "opponents" words they can throw back at you.

But most definitely, do it.

Re:I think it's a great idea (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29728543)

Brownfield is a very common term in plant engineering, and it seems to be used the same way here, not as some form of doublespeak. Basically:

Brownfield - new facility on existing site
vs.
Greenfield - new facility on new site

Re:I think it's a great idea (1)

rtb61 (674572) | more than 4 years ago | (#29727941)

The flip side of this, is those that profited by polluting the land in question will inevitably use lobbyists to inflate the price paid for the land where it matches the value of adjoining unpolluted and leave all that pollution behind. Either the contaminated land is already government land or the polluters pay to clean it up. This just sounds like another greedy arsholes dream to dump worthless land onto the taxpayer at enormous profit.

Let's see wind farms, ridge line and cliffs, both places generally completely useless for dumping of refuse or manufacturing plants, so all suitable sites are likely pollution free. Solar farms, flat land not suitable for farming, certainly plenty of desert acreage, in fact millions of acres, so plenty of pollution free available. The reality a whole bunch of polluted land not really suitable for wind or solar farms, very low energy generating capacity but, no problem they all will still be dumped on to the public purse for maximum lobbyist greased profits.

Re:I think it's a great idea (3, Informative)

hipp5 (1635263) | more than 4 years ago | (#29728053)

The reality a whole bunch of polluted land not really suitable for wind or solar farms

Except ya know: "National Renewable Energy Laboratory have identified nearly 4,100 contaminated sites deemed economically suitable". I think the whole, "economically suitable" thing means it is... economically suitable for solar and wind.

Re:I think it's a great idea (1)

rtb61 (674572) | more than 4 years ago | (#29728959)

Except once the toxic waste starts leaching off the, now government owned site and they have to dismantle the solar/wind farm in order to clean up the site, all at public expense of course. So environmental impact statement to prove the pollutants will not leave the site through natural processes, be it wind or ground water movement, second the property should have a nil or negative value to take into account it's true non-existent value, thirdly if the property is only borderline and there are substantially better energy generating sites than the better sites should be used. The whole idea makes no sense for wind farms, as the tower represents only minimal land use, basically a small garden and a large tree per site, so pretty much 99.9% of the land still remains viable for other uses including orchards and grazing. When it comes to solar farms there are literally millions of acres of un-used government land, not only in deserts but also in the huge number of military bases ie. for a start the military should be forced to generate their own electricity from renewable energy sources on those bases because of the millions of acres they allow to go idle (methane, solar and wind), they can then distribute surplus energy to local communities at cost.

Re:I think it's a great idea (4, Informative)

skavenger (1219006) | more than 4 years ago | (#29728667)

The fact no one will seriously be able to challenge the site selection on environmental grounds will simply speed getting the shovels into the ground.

You should look into the rehabilitation of contaminated sites before stating anything quite so strongly. The undesirability of contaminated land can make it environmentally valuable and worth protecting. Environmental grounds for legal argument aren't nearly as limited as you're pretending.

Re:I think it's a great idea (1)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 4 years ago | (#29728947)

A lot of hazardous materials are more risk to dig up than just leave alone...The fact no one will seriously be able to challenge the site selection on environmental grounds will simply speed getting the shovels into the ground.

Wait... What?

Interesting Idea (2, Insightful)

plague911 (1292006) | more than 4 years ago | (#29727853)

The only downside I see to this is that construction costs are going to be higher. For a couple of reasons. These brown sites will by nature of them be farther way from existing infrastructure resulting in higher costs to send both materials and labor to the location. Also there will need to be extra safety precatuions taken for the labourers and the waste from the zones.

All in all it may be a good idea or may not. I hope it turns out to be economically beneficial for all.

Re:Interesting Idea (1)

jeffb (2.718) (1189693) | more than 4 years ago | (#29728009)

These brown sites will by nature of them be farther way from existing infrastructure resulting in higher costs to send both materials and labor to the location.

Actually, there are quite a lot of urban sites as well. In fact, I drove past one [epa.gov] just last week. Remember, too, that infrastructure spreads to follow and/or lead suburban sprawl. Yesterday's isolated dumping ground is today's fashionable gated community.

Re:Interesting Idea (2, Informative)

Jeremi (14640) | more than 4 years ago | (#29728061)

These brown sites will by nature of them be farther way from existing infrastructure resulting in higher costs to send both materials and labor to the location.

Precisely the opposite. If you RTFM, you'll see that the listed benefits include: power transmission lines are often already available on site (leftover from the site's previous use), and the sites are often located in areas with depressed economies (read: readily available labor from nearby towns, that used to be employed by the old site)

Also there will need to be extra safety precatuions taken for the labourers and the waste from the zones.

I think they are limiting their scope to sites where the pollution has been cleaned up to minimally acceptable levels.

Re:Interesting Idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29728121)

Are you kidding me? My first High School was built directly on TOP of an old garbage dump. It was awesome when the wind blew. It carried that stench pretty far.

Sure, but... (1)

tsotha (720379) | more than 4 years ago | (#29727919)

Who would want to work there? It's a good thing we'll probably get national health care, because the construction workers are gonna need it when their thyroid glands swell up to the size of a cantaloupe.

Re:Sure, but... (1)

Clover_Kicker (20761) | more than 4 years ago | (#29727987)

Pay a good wage, and people will come.

There are people lining up to work at oil drilling sites/refineries, nuclear plants, paper mills, all kinds of shitty places.


And its go boys go
They'll time your every breath
And every day in this place your two days near to death
But you go

Well a process man am I and I'm tellin' you no lie
I work and breathe among the fumes that tread across the sky
There's thunder all around me and there's poison in the air
There's a lousy smell that smacks of hell and dust all in me hair

Well I've worked among the spitters and I breathe the oily smoke
I've shovelled up the gypsum and it neigh 'on makes you choke
I've stood knee deep cyanide, got sick with a caustic burn
Been working rough, I've seen enough, to make your stomach turn

There's overtime and bonus opportunities galore
The young men like their money and they all come back for more
But soon your knocking on and you look older than you should
For every bob made on the job, you pay with flesh and blood

Well a process man am I and I'm telling you no lie
I work and breathe among the fumes that tread across the sky
There's thunder all around me and there's poison in the air
There's a lousy smell that smacks of hell and dust all in me hair

Eminent Domain bonanza!!!! (-1, Troll)

ahbi (796025) | more than 4 years ago | (#29727943)

This will be an Eminent Domain bonanza!!!!

This is just a land grab trifecta

1) you have Kelo v. City of New London saying that any taking by the government is for "the public use", allowing the government to openly grab land at eminent domain prices and give it to their developer friends

2) you then have the EPA marking land as "brownfield" (i.e. bad bad very bad, not superfund bad, but bad), allowing the government to pay below eminent domain prices (i.e. rock bottom prices, "either your signature or brains will be on this contract" negotiation).

3) finally you have this being "Green". So, no court or citizens can morally oppose this (or else you hate the Earth, bad person)
4 or 3B, because "Green" is a double, a gift that keeps on giving) because this is "Green" your developer friends will get further government subsidies for building.

Man, they are good at graft and bribery in Chicago.

Re:Eminent Domain bonanza!!!! (4, Insightful)

Jeremi (14640) | more than 4 years ago | (#29728101)

Man, they are good at graft and bribery in Chicago.

My God, what are you still doing here man? Don't you know that the evil New World Obama Administration can infect your mind through your Internet connection? Quick, log off now, run to the basement, and put on your tin foil body condom, before they turn you into a mindless socialist environment-loving green weenie!

Feel free to check back in 2012, it may be safe for you to come back on line then.

Re:Eminent Domain bonanza!!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29728141)

I was actually thinking more of Mayor Daly and him & his friends buying up property along the proposed Olympics area.
But if you want to turn it into something about Obama, well...

Re:Eminent Domain bonanza!!!! (4, Insightful)

Edmund Blackadder (559735) | more than 4 years ago | (#29728851)

Not really. You do not need eminent domain to take contaminated sites. Owners of contaminated sites are usually praying that the government will take those sites off of their hands. You see, when you own land that is contaminated you are responsible for cleaning it up, and you can pay pretty hefty fines if the contamination spreads or affects the groundwater. There have been many cases where people will sell contaminated sites for negative money (i.e., pay money for someone to get them off their hands). So yes, the owners will be quite happy to give them to the government for free.

The concern is actually quite the opposite. It is possible that the Obama admin may use this program as a hidden subsidy. That is they may let owners of contaminated land off the hook for the clean-up costs and get the federal taxpayer on the hook for the clean-up costs. But in general it seems like a good idea as long as environmental groups watch the implementation carefully.

negates a selling point of renewable energy? (3, Insightful)

ChipMonk (711367) | more than 4 years ago | (#29727945)

Isn't one of the selling points supposed to be lower maintenance costs? But really, doesn't that get wiped out, or at least compromised, by the higher employment cost of sending crews into contaminated sites that are still waiting for clean-up? And if the site clean-up is in progress, wouldn't that drive up the maintenance crews' costs up even higher?

As long as we aren't dodging the issue of leakage (3, Interesting)

jeffb (2.718) (1189693) | more than 4 years ago | (#29727975)

Building on top of a brownfield might do little to stop its contents from percolating into groundwater. (Actually, it might do something at that, simply by diverting rain that would otherwise fall onto and into it.)

I'm all for putting otherwise-unusable land to good use, but we'd need to have legal structures to protect everyone involved, so (for example) the company building the energy installation isn't suddenly on the hook for everything lurking under it.

Re:As long as we aren't dodging the issue of leaka (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29728129)

You realize probably a large chunk of the companies building on these sites are going to be the ones responsible for the giant mess there in the first place?

And? (0, Redundant)

QuoteMstr (55051) | more than 4 years ago | (#29727981)

We're already doing this [steelwinds.com] in Buffalo, NY, on the old Bethlehem Steel site. It used to be one of the largest steelmakers in the world; now, we get clean energy.

Re:And? (1)

Jeremi (14640) | more than 4 years ago | (#29728125)

We're already doing this in Buffalo, NY, on the old Bethlehem Steel site. It used to be one of the largest steelmakers in the world; now, we get clean energy.

Wow, I wish they had mentioned that in the article somewhere. You know, maybe right around the first paragraph. It would have made a great example for the article.

The next step... (1)

sexybomber (740588) | more than 4 years ago | (#29728203)

should be to retool half of Tonawanda (it's a small industrial city immediately north of Buffalo, for those who aren't from the area) to make the parts for those turbines. There's a GM plant there that currently makes car transmissions. I'll bet they could switch over to making turbine innards pretty easily. I'm also quite confident that there are vacant factories large enough to accommodate making the blades. Then, when we've got the parts built, they can be shipped up the Great Lakes to the windy parts of the country.

This would: 1) create jobs where they're desperately needed; 2) bring some money back to a region that's been struggling mightily for the past 20-30 years; 3) get us going on the path towards green energy; 4) possibly spur more green industry to come to Buffalo and set up shop on our wonderfully ample supply of brownfields.

I fail to see a downside here.

Re:The next step... (1)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 4 years ago | (#29728921)

If you owned a US wind farm corp what would you do? The cost of making a turbine part in the US vs China/ next sweat shop nation with a fancy new factory vs an old US factory?
GM has the dream like option never to hire another US citizen yet keep the brand strong with small US flags..
In China if you make trouble/get hurt its a small pension, chat with a local official or prison farm.
The US is great for logo design, turbine design or sales, installation, ongoing work over life of the unit.

president obama and congress (1)

nimbius (983462) | more than 4 years ago | (#29728015)

why didnt we just say "the government"

Re:president obama and congress (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29728891)

why didnt we just say "the government"

"The government" has three branches.

Re:president obama and congress (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29729407)

because "the government" has a whole other branch? and that's just the federal government...

Not in my backyard! (4, Funny)

igny (716218) | more than 4 years ago | (#29728051)

I would not let this happen on the landfill in my backyard! That would ruin the beautiful sunset over the steaming pile of crap I am enjoying here, and the price of my house will go like way down!

As if electricity wasn't dangerous enough already (1)

hellop2 (1271166) | more than 4 years ago | (#29728095)

Now I have to worry about it being radioactive and/or toxic?

re: EPA To Refuse Toxic Sites Renewable Energy (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 4 years ago | (#29728267)

Geez.. Refusing Renewable energy.. that's a really harsh penalty..

So homes built on them go dark, when fossil fuels are exhausted.

Won't anyone think of the Toxic Waste Sites?? They sure deserve to have some energy too..

Close to populated centers (4, Informative)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 4 years ago | (#29728377)

Most of the brownfields, by their very definitions, are either in or close to suburbia. Basically, by putting up wind, Solar PV|thermal, or possibly geo-thermal, these will generate power CLOSE to consumption. In addition, many of these sites already had high tension lines being brought in. Generally, a brownfield was a previous manufacturing site that used loads of electricity. So, with high tension lines already there, the increased costs of build-out as well as maintenance may be far less than doing a new site located 20-50 miles away.

Re:Close to populated centers (1)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 4 years ago | (#29728933)

But suburbia is set up with a set of decreasing voltage lines. To tap back in with a new larger altering voltage might be costly.

Where? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29728701)

Anyone have a US map detailing the locations of these "brown fields" it seems to me our power should be nicely dispersed throughout the nation.

If 30% of it is Nevada desert we may have issues.

What About The Connected Landowners? (3, Insightful)

Bob9113 (14996) | more than 4 years ago | (#29728805)

"The Daily Climate reports that President Obama and Congress are pushing to identify thousands of contaminated landfills and abandoned mines -- 'brownfields' that could be repurposed to house wind farms, solar arrays, and geothermal power plants. Using already disturbed lands would help avoid conflicts between renewable energy developers and environmental groups concerned about impacts to wildlife habitat. 'In the next decade there's going to be a lot of renewable energy built, and all that has to go somewhere,' said Jessica Goad, an energy and climate change policy fellow for The Wilderness Society.

That's all well and good for the ducks, but what about landowners who have invested good money and hosted dozens of elbow-rubbing parties over the years to develop a relationship with congresspeople and senators? How are they supposed to get the government to buy their $60 per acre swampland for $2500 per acre? Reusing land the government has already paid for severely depresses the corrupt real estate deal market, with nothing more to show for it than reduced public spending.

Won't somebody please think of the well-connected?!?

Re:What About The Connected Landowners? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29728875)

"The Daily Climate reports that President Obama and Congress are pushing to identify thousands of contaminated landfills and abandoned mines -- 'brownfields' that could be repurposed to house wind farms, solar arrays, and geothermal power plants. Using already disturbed lands would help avoid conflicts between renewable energy developers and environmental groups concerned about impacts to wildlife habitat. 'In the next decade there's going to be a lot of renewable energy built, and all that has to go somewhere,' said Jessica Goad, an energy and climate change policy fellow for The Wilderness Society.

That's all well and good for the ducks, but what about landowners who have invested good money and hosted dozens of elbow-rubbing parties over the years to develop a relationship with congresspeople and senators? How are they supposed to get the government to buy their $60 per acre swampland for $2500 per acre? Reusing land the government has already paid for severely depresses the corrupt real estate deal market, with nothing more to show for it than reduced public spending.

Won't somebody please think of the well-connected?!?

Actually you have to be more concerned with city and county elected officials up zoning the land to make it worth more to the developers without giving the community any value in return. Quite often it leads to the community ending up paying extra burden to maintain services and infrastructure. In some cases this up zoning may be a form of corruption.

Energy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29729723)

Total amount of energy is quoted assuming no losses in efficiency, power factor, transmission and of of course extra energy costs to make building on such environmentally friendly.

It is a good idea however assuming the tax payer does not pick up the tab for the last part.

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