DeKalb County says it is the greenest county in America. And to help bolster that claim, they have approved a green energy facility that will have little or no pollution, and can generate electricity for 7,000 homes. At least that is the sell that Green Energy Partners has told DeKalb County. Residents in that part of the county are not impressed. They had been fighting to keep the facility from being built, but their pleas fell on deaf ears as DeKalb commissioners voted unanimously to approve the plant.
Green Energy Partners is not the only group to attempt to open a biomass facilty in DeKalb. In 2009 Southeastern Renewable Energy asked the county to rezone some land on Briarwood Road near I-85 and North Druid Hills Road so that thye could build essentially the same type of facilty. In fact if you read the SLUP for both, the purpose is exactly the same with the exception of who is requesting, and where it is located. Here is the stated purpose of each:
Application of Patrick Ejike to request a Special Land Use Permit to operate a utility generation facility (Biomass Renewable
Energy Facility) within the M-2 (Industrial) zoning district. The property is located on the east side of Rogers Lake Road,
approximately 446 feet south of Lithonia Industrial Boulevard at 1744 and 1770 Rogers Lake Road. The property has approximately 483
feet of frontage along Rogers Lake Road and contains 21.12 acres
Southeastern Renewable Energy
Application of Raine Cotton to request a Special Land Use Permit to operate a utility generation facility (Biomass Renewable
Energy Facility) within the M-2 zoning district. The property is located on the southwest side of Briarwood Road (vicinity of Georgia Power Easment)approximately 880 northwest of Interstate 85 (vacant land, no address). The property has approximately 150
feet of frontage on Briarwood Road and contains 3.16 acres
So what made the Green Energy application so much more plausible than the SRE application? After all, the planning department denied the SRE application based on several issues including “..anticipated significant impacts on water quality, air quality, noise impacts and transportation impacts.” Yet they recommended referral for the Green Energy application. Commissioners repeatedly deferred the SRE application from 2009 until April of 2010 when the application was finally withdrawn. So here are two facilities that use similar technologies to produce energy, yet one is considered a health hazard while the other is given the go ahead to operate. I am also wary of the timing of this entire thing. In April of 2010, DeKalb commissioners entertained the idea of this plant from Green Energy. A week later SRE’s application was withdrawn. In July of the same year, the commission voted to sell the very wood chips Green Energy says it will use in it’s facility for five dollars a ton. And now they have approved the facility in southeast DeKalb. If I lived within a half mile of this thing, I would definitely want to know more about how this whole thing wound it’s way through the county leadership.
If your kid is smoking these death rolls, there’s a better than even chance he or she is already smoking weed and drinking too. With that said, what concerns me about this proposed tax on cigarettes is that the more you tax an item, the more you place it out of reach for the addicted. When something like cigarettes, alcohol, and drugs are banned or taxed to darn near being banned, you open up the possibility of the black market taking over. The streets are a cruel irony to our capitalist system. Our system has the rule of law at play, so it helps regulate commerce and keep a sense of civility to transactions. On the street, supply and demand rules, without any regulation or rule of law. Unless you count murdering or intimidation of competition regulation. If a product that is addictive becomes too expensive for the user, he or she will turn to other means of getting that fix. A quick google search of nicotine addiction, and you will get a wealth of info comparing nicotine addiction to alcohol, and other drugs like cocaine. This is what the American Heart Association had to say about nicotine addiction:
Nicotine is an addictive drug. It causes changes in the brain that make people want to use it more and more. In addition, addictive drugs cause unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. The good feelings that result when an addictive drug is present — and the bad feelings when it’s absent — make breaking any addiction very difficult. Nicotine addiction has historically been one of the hardest addictions to break.
Imagine cigarettes becoming so expensive because of taxation that smokers started knocking off convenience stores to get their fix. Imagine someone robbing you at gun point because they saw you with a smoke, and they could not afford one. Think this sound alarmist or extreme, then check out this study from the Mackinac Center. Incidents involving large thefts of cigarettes is not uncommon. Taxing a product to the point that is is essentially unattainable makes it easier for the underground economy to help supply the demand. And once the underground gets a hold of it, then there’s no way to control it. The control is handed over to whoever is the strongest, or most willing to do anything to make a buck. I am not a smoker, and can’t stand being around cigarette smoke. Thinking you can tax addictive substances into oblivion is a short-sighted way to deal with irresponsible budget planners, and does little to help those suffering from the addiction.
I like this idea. As a person who has a personal garden, I think it can not only provide needed friuts and veggies to peoples diets, but it may encourage more people to grow their own food. It is a healthy alternative to store bought, it saves money, and provides people with much needed exercise. I do wonder though how big will these gardens be. I also wonder where will they be. Four gardens in DeKalb probably will not serve too many citizens. here is the website for the group wanting to do this.