November 9, 2007

Newsweek adds defamatory voice to wind development juggernaut

Not satisfied with the "NIMBY" pejorative, Roya Wolverson, writing in the Nov. 12, 2007, Newsweek, rolls out "citiot". Taking her cue from professional anti-environmentalist Frank Maisano, spokesman for a coalition of mid-Atlantic wind energy developers, she caricaturizes the battles over industrial wind turbine siting as between farmers and second-home owners ("citiots") -- as if installing an array 400′-high machines that generate noise and visual distraction night and day is no more offensive than spreading manure once or twice a year. Hosting giant wind turbines is no more farming than turning your fields into a NASCAR track.

The caricature, useful as it is to the developers and the landowners salivating for the developers' crumbs, ignores environmentalist opposition, turbines sited on mountain ridges, the fact that as taxpayers we are all paying for the boondoggle, and that, as one of the comments to the article notes, many leasers are absentee owners. As the saying goes, who's watching the farm? She also ignores the common subversion of local democracy, where the leasers are also the town officials that are supposed to listen to all of the people but instead act to self-servingly facilitate the developers.

Finally, she ignores the evidence that wind on the grid does not do what it is supposed to do, that is, reduce the use of other fuels. Small amounts of wind energy -- which is necessarily highly variable and intermittent -- require other sources to work harder to balance the extra fluctuation they add. Substantial wind capacity requires new "conventional" sources to be able to balance it and keep the grid stable. Since the only practical sites for large wind energy installations are far from people (though still impacting animals and plants), they also require new high-capacity transmission lines (not to mention heavy-duty roads) through those remote areas.

What is significant here, therefore, is that the developers (and their abettors) have apparently given up trying to argue that there are benefits from big wind that outweigh the negative impacts. Dare we say, they have lost that argument? They now have only their nasty contempt for opposition voices and appeals to shortsighted greed.

wind power, wind energy, wind farms, environment, environmentalism, human rights, animal rights