24 November 2008

At a New York Seminary, a Green Idea Gets Tangled in Red Tape
At one point, the seminary waited three months for the city Department of Transportation’s permission to drill into the sidewalk, Ms. Burnley said. “The conversation went like this: ‘What is the status?’ ‘It has no status.’ ‘Do you need more information?’ ‘No, we have what we need.’ ‘Then how can we get it moving?’ ‘You can’t get it moving.’
Lets get one thing clear from the start, I do not think that bureaucracy is always the problem. Most bureaucracies were put in place because there was an issue that needed to be addressed. People were putting bad wiring into houses, the electricity would short, start a fire, and burn down three houses; answer, electrical inspections. But we all know there comes a point when the bureaucracy becomes so dense it takes on a life of its own, and halts progress.

I think we might see more of this as individual groups take the Green Energy movement into their own hands. From making sure solar panels are installed on homes properly, to deciding if your neighbor gets to put up a small wind turbine, to colleges installing larger turbines and geothermal heat pumps. We need to be able to get this technology in use, but we can't give it a free pass. Look at corn-based ethanol and the damage it has done to local aquifers; we can't let the Green-ness of a thing blind us to the potential problems. But neither can we let a good idea die in the thickets of red tape.

But are there enough people like Ms. Burnley and Mr. Frawley — human drill bits — to drive through the crust of the status quo? She laughed. Not drill bits, she said, “human battering rams.”
I hope so, we badly need them.

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