- The Washington Times - Monday, July 31, 2006

For the record

Kofi Annan’s expression of shock and distress at the “apparently deliberate targeting by Israeli Defense Forces of a United Nations observer post in southern Lebanon” on July 25, which killed four U.N. peacekeepers, was based on very precise reports received from the U.N. Interim Force in Lebanon (“Annan’s crooked finger,” Editorial, Thursday). These reports indicated that at least 10 calls had been made during the dayto the Israeli authoritiesto warn them that their shelling was getting closer to the clearly marked U.N. position in Khiyam — which had been known to the Israeli army for many years — and to remind them of their assurance that U.N. positions would not be targeted. Reports received also showed 21 hits within 300 meters, 12 within 100 meters and four direct hits.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert spoke yesterday to the secretary-general, expressing his deep sorrow and saying he believed it was a mistake. He has agreed to investigate the incident. Mr. Annan, while accepting the prime ministers’ words, has suggested a joint investigation.

The United Nations force is deployed in southern Lebanon, and can only be withdrawn by decision of the Security Council. Its personnel, based in clearly demarcated, well-established posts, have remained in situ during previous conflicts. The Israeli authoritieshave clearlyand repeatedly assured the United Nations that they would not be targets.

The role of UNIFIL has been superseded by current events — which is why the many governments are now discussing, with the United Nations, plans fora stronger international force to replace it. In Mr. Annan’s view, such aforce will have a vital role to play — particularly with humanitarian assistanceand to help the Lebanese government to implement Security Council resolutions 1559 and 1680, by extending effective sovereigntyand control over all its territoryand disarming all Lebanese and non-Lebanese militias. But this can only be achieved once hostilities have ceased. The secretary-general continues to believe that an immediate and unconditional cessation of hostilities is the first essential step to be taken toward a sustainable ceasefire.


Director of Communications

Executive Office of the


United Nations

New York, NY

Blowing in the wind

Wind energy’s Achilles’ heel — its intermittency — limits its capacity value and its impact on emissions. Because of this, current federal and state programs promoting wind energy are bad public policy (“Energetic turn to wind power,” Metropolitan, Thursday).

As an intermittent/variable electricity source, wind energy has not and cannot replace conventional sources (coal, nuclear power and natural gas) of base-load electricity generation. These sources must continue to be maintained and built as our electricity demand grows regardless of the amount of wind energy facilities constructed.

As an intermittent/variable electricity source, wind energy must be backed up by standby dispatchable generation (usually natural gas) for other than modest amounts of production. As wind energy penetration grows, the need for backup and the associated emissions largely offset the purported emissions savings. In short, modest wind energy production doesn’t make much of a difference in reducing emissions, and meaningful levels of production have, at best, a negligible positive impact. The experience of both Germany and Denmark argue against wind energy, not for it.

Federal and state governments are promoting an energy source whose (1) energy doesn’t contribute to base-load capacity (that must be maintained and expanded in any event), (2) whose cost, notwithstanding the production tax credit, is higher than production from conventional sources of base-load electricity and (3) whose contribution to reducing emissions is negligible at best. What is particularly indefensible is that the net effect of these policies is to transfer wealth — from all consumers of electricity and federal taxpayers — to the pockets of a few beneficiaries — the Florida Power & Lights and JP Morgans of this world.

This may help explain why opposition to industrial wind energy is growing so rapidly. Opposition is about more than aesthetics and wildlife, though these are, of course, important issues. Wind energy’s benefits are paltry, and the aforementioned economics makes no sense. Current programs promoting industrial wind energy are simply bad public policy.


Londonderry, Vt.

Bronzed warriors

The letter by Bryan Callan in Friday’s Letters section (“A proliferation of medals”) is a good follow-up to Wednesday’s article “Bronze Star not as shiny” (Nation). I would, however, like to take issue with Mr. Callan’s last line, which stated that “there is no comparison between the token Bronze Stars given today and the ones given in World Wars I and II and Korea.”

I almost agree, but not on the World War I part. The Bronze Star was not given out until the latter part of World War II (1944) and was made retroactive to the bombing of Pearl Harbor in December 7, 1941, for acts of “Heroic or meritorious achievement or service.”



Wildlife habitats

Rep. Richard W. Pombo, California Republican, often quotes me from when I served as director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to argue that I have supported his effort to eliminate critical habitat protection under the Endangered Species Act. He did so again in his Friday column (“Endangered species repair required,” Commentary) calling on the Senate to adopt his bill weakening the Endangered Species Act. But Mr. Pombo could not be more wrong.

The protection of habitat is essential to the recovery of endangered plants and animals. After all, it hardly matters what you do for species if you don’t protect the places they live. That’s why I supported steps to improve the effectiveness of critical habitat as director and that’s why I support them now. The Pombo bill, however, would completely eliminate habitat protections and leave nothing of any substance in their place.

The Pombo bill also would require taxpayers to pay developers not to kill endangered plants and animals or destroy their habitat. This provision led the Bush administration’s current director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Dale Hall, to tell Mr. Pombo’s resources committee that the bill would literally “break the bank,” and he is right. Indeed, the Pombo bill is so extreme that Sen. Lincoln Chafee, Rhode Island Republican and chairman of the Senate subcommittee that oversees the Endangered Species Act, has said that it is unlikely any bill will pass the Senate for fear that it would be “Pombo-ized” in conference with the House. Odd that Mr. Pombo never uses those quotes.

The Endangered Species Act is one of our nation’s most successful conservation laws. It has helped save the bald eagle, gray whale, brown pelican, California condor and many other species from extinction. Provided Mr. Pombo doesn’t get his way, the Endangered Species Act will continue to protect wildlife and its habitat for generations to come.


Executive vice president

Defenders of Wildlife


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