- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Recent editorials from Alabama newspapers:

May 26

Anniston (Alabama) Star on climate change affecting U.S. military:

Speaking in October 2013 to journalists gathered at a conference in Newport, Rhode Island, Lee Gunn, a retired vice admiral in the U.S. Navy, offered a dire warning: “Climate change is a threat multiplier.”

Gunn, who is now president of the Institute for Public Research at the CNA Corp., warned of looming adaptations required of the U.S. armed forces, which are “the best educated, best trained, best equipped, best motivated and most combat-experienced military the world has ever seen.”

The math is pretty basic. Weather extremes caused by climate change put a heavy stress on agriculture. Food shortages lead to unrest. Tensions rise so high that civil war breaks out. From there, a destabilized region has the potential to cause a massive disruption in security. And at some point, the U.S.’s “best educated, best trained, best equipped, best motivated and most combat-experienced military” will be called on to confront and contain the fighting.

To make matters worse, “climate change affects military readiness, strains base resilience, creates missions in new regions of the world and increases the likelihood that our armed forces will be deployed for humanitarian missions,” David Titley, a retired rear admiral in the U.S. Navy, wrote last year.

This month, President Barack Obama has raised his voice, highlighting the security threat presented by climate change.

“Climate change will impact every country on the planet. No nation is immune,” Obama told graduates of U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut, last week. “Climate change constitutes a serious threat to global security, an immediate risk to our national security and, make no mistake, it will impact how our military defends our country. And so we need to act - and we need to act now.”

The point, of course, isn’t to panic. After all, the U.S. military has faced looming threats for as long as there has been a United States of America. The lessons to learn from our history deal with preparation. Is the nation preparing for this new threat? As rising seas endanger U.S. Navy ports, is there a plan to adapt? Are U.S. ground troops prepared to confront volatile regional skirmishes triggered by climate change-caused scarcity?

The warnings are sounding. The nation should be listening.




May 27

Dothan (Alabama) Eagle on giving back the state’s beachfront mansion:

There’s a tradition among Alabama politicians to kick the can down the road, ignoring intractable problems or situations that may cause them to look bad to voters. That would explain why many Alabamians were not aware that the state owns a million-dollar beachfront mansion in Gulf Shores for the governor’s use until an Associated Press story about the structure ran in newspapers across the state over the holiday weekend.

When the state is continually cutting budgets and threatening tax increases, the idea that taxpayers are footing the bill for a high-dollar gubernatorial getaway would not go over well with the masses.

As reported by the Associated Press, the beach mansion story reveals a series of governmental missteps, from its creation more than half a century ago to its more recent deterioration brought on by hurricane damage almost 20 years ago.

It began in the Wallace administration, with beachfront property donated by a Louisiana developer, E. Lamar Little and his partners. Material for the construction was given by private interests. The agreement with donors states that the property cannot be sold.

Now the property is in disrepair, boarded up and largely abandoned except for an elderly caretaker who drives over from Mobile to check on it a couple of times a week. It’s a source of consternation to owners of neighboring property, but officials don’t want to spend taxpayer money to fix it up - that would look bad. Because of the binding agreement, they also cannot sell it.

But what they can do, they won’t. They could give the property back to the original donor. In fact, the Associated Press reports that he’s sued unsuccessfully to get it back twice.

The answer seems clear. Gov. Bentley should return the property to Little, whose most recent attempt to reclaim the beach retreat was 2010. Then it won’t be the state’s problem - or embarrassment.




May 26

Decatur (Alabama) Daily on TVA needing to diversify power-generation portfolio:

Some forward-thinking planners at the Tennessee Valley Authority are looking to renewable energy sources to help power the Valley’s homes and industries.

But two U.S. senators from Tennessee don’t like the sound of that. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker, in a meeting with TVA officials, seemed puzzled the agency wasn’t plowing ahead with its nuclear program. Alexander, in fact, described renewable energy as a “fad.”

Alexander and Corker apparently think renewable energy is too expensive and could drive up TVA power rates. Maybe they have short memories. TVA has spent millions of dollars cleaning up emissions from old coal-fired power plants and has closed some fossil units to avoid further expense.

The nuclear program, which the two senators seem to think is the only way forward for TVA, has not been without its share of expenses and problems. Several reactors were canceled in an overly ambitious building program that got underway in the early 1970s, and Browns Ferry has been fraught with issues for decades. Getting a nuclear reactor licensed is a long and expensive process, and there is the issue of what to do with spent fuel rods.

Among the options in TVA’s power plan is buying electricity generated by wind farms in the Midwest. Alexander criticized that, as well, saying the agency’s mission “is not to build windmills; it’s to provide low-cost electricity.”

Having options for not only generating, but buying, electricity is a sound policy. Alexander is out of touch with the reality of generating electrical power if he thinks nuclear reactors are the only option. Renewable energy is a viable option for TVA and other power suppliers as raw materials - especially coal - become more expensive and destructive to the climate.

A company is building a solar farm in Lauderdale County that will sell power to TVA. That’s as clean a source of electricity as one can ask for, and solar panels should become more affordable for homeowners in the coming year, further reducing the need for fossil fuels.

TVA serves residential and commercial power customers in portions of seven Southern states. A diversified portfolio of power generation options, including clean, renewable options, is wise.



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