What took you so long, Mr. Delahunt?

cctoday25_120Delahunt's "vision" for our future
His alleged enthusiasm underwhelms

Thanks for coming around, Congressman Bill Delahunt. What took you so long?

Speaking before renewable energy entrepreneurs in Fall River on Thursday, Delahunt could barely contain his enthusiasm for offshore renewable energy.

"The vision for the future is so exciting because you know that it's there," Delahunt said, specifically citing "deepwater" offshore wind, wave and tidal energy along New England's shores. "But it's only going to be done in a collaborative fashion and we don't have any time."

Delahunt, a stalwart foe of the Cape Wind project, went on to assert - "I'm not going to say that we went into Iraq because of oil, but I would pose the question and ask you to reflect on it - would we have gone into Iraq but for oil? Everybody can reach their own decision but clearly it's in our national security interests to wean ourselves from the dependence on foreign oil. Renewables - that's the answer (emphasis added), whether it's wind, whether it's wave, whether it's tidal, whether it's ethanol, whether it's biodiesel" or some form of yet discovered energy.

But national security is only half the reason for supporting offshore renewables, said Delahunt, who managed to speak for 20 minutes on the subject without uttering the dreaded words, "Cape Wind."

The second reason for urgency? "Climate change has arrived," the congressman pointed out. Oh, and by the way, "yesterday oil broke $80 a barrel."

"These two phenomenon, national security and climate change, are clearly making an impact in Washington and I dare say the state level," Delahunt said (national security is a "phenomenon"?)

Not only that, but "we're behind, folks. We're dramatically behind," Delahunt offered with an avuncular chuckle.

Not only that, but "we're behind, folks. We're dramatically behind," Delahunt offered with an avuncular chuckle.

Family obligations prevented me from attending the forum, but a friend offered to preserve an audio record of the proceedings. Listening to the recording over the weekend was alternately painful and amusing. Even those who agree with Delahunt on Cape Wind must find it painful and amusing when he weighs in on renewables.

It wasn't until the end of his remarks that Delahunt crossed the line to the shameless. Here's what he said, verbatim -

"But by doing this, you will impact, in our own way, climate change. And most importantly, most importantly from my perspective ..." (lowering his voice and speaking slowly for emphasis) " ... may we never find ourselves again in a quagmire, where we're going to spend a trillion dollars, and we're going to have lost so many lives, so many lives, and not just of Americans and military personnel but civilians, because that's the answer to our security in the future. So this is really a call to patriotism. That's really what this is all about."

With that, Delahunt beat a hasty exit for the door, skipping the panel discussion to follow involving people with actual expertise in the subject he just tip-toed around as if in a minefield.

Seeing how Delahunt stated that offshore renewables are essential not only for protecting our country ("national security") but also for saving the world ("climate change"), it must have been one helluva pressing obligation for him to high-tail it from the forum.

Without intending to do so, however, Delahunt helped those he opposes on Cape Wind by reinforcing two frequently cited rationales for the project - national security and climate change. Offshore renewables, Delahunt stated unequivocally, are essential to both.

And seeing how Cape Wind is the most prominent offshore renewable project in the country, it must be part of the same unequivocal equation described by Delahunt. He just doesn't want it built within view of the Kennedy compound.

Delahunt's remarks, followed by tepid applause, were so underwhelming that the organizer of the forum to speak next didn't even thank him. Fortunately for those attending, the panel discussion to follow, moderated by Greg Watson, state Assistant Secretary of Clean Energy Technology, was lively and illuminating.

Taking part were Jay Fiske of the Massachusetts Green Energy Fund, Ralph Earle of the Concord-based Assabet Group environmental consultants, and former regional EPA administrator John DeVillars, now of BlueWave Strategies, which also offers environmental consulting.

Delahunt never stated why he couldn't stick around to hear from the panelists, a subtle breach of political protocol. But considering the wide chasm between his hoary cliches and the genuine, engaging enthusiasm for renewables shown by speakers after him, the reason for Delahunt's abrupt departure was obvious.

The potential for awkward questions asked of  a US congressman - a former prosecutor, no less - was clearly more than Delahunt could handle.

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