March 20, 2013

Wind industry fears real scrutiny

To the Editor, Valley News:

What is the real threat of Vermont Senate Bill 30 (Dori Wolfe: “Don't Reject Wind Energy in Vermont,” letter, March 17)? Now stripped of the 3-year moratorium provision, it only requires the Section 248 permitting process to abide by rather than merely consider Act 250 criteria.

It is ironic that business people like Wolfe, while in one breath urging us to save the environment by buying their products and services, in the next express alarm that environmental scrutiny “would severely damage the wind industry.”

But on the latter point she is right: These projects, especially on otherwise fiercely protected ridgelines, are not green. The environmental (not to mention financial) costs far outweigh the necessarily minuscule benefit from a diffuse, intermittent, and highly variable source.

To avoid that conclusion, Wolfe raises the specter of oil and gasoline, which fuel our cars, heat our homes, and power our factories but provide almost none of our electricity. In fact, more wind requires building more natural gas– and even diesel-powered plants just for backup. She notes that housecats kill more birds, as if that absolves the additional deaths caused by wind turbines, and disregards wind energy’s unique toll on raptors (eagles, owls, and the like) and bats, the latter already decimated by white nose syndrome.

Wolfe also touts the latest poll showing continuing support for industrial wind energy (ignoring the broad dissatisfaction everywhere they are actually erected or even proposed). If industrial wind is as popular as the polls indicate, then the greater local involvement enabled by Act 250 would be a boon, not a threat.

But S.30 would make it harder for developers to divide communities and to pit town against town, because Act 250 puts the region’s interests before those of industry lobbyists in Montpelier.

If industrial-scale wind (and solar) are indeed beneficial to the environment and communities, locally as well as globally, then its marketers have nothing to fear from a more democratic and environmentally rigorous permitting process. If they do indeed have reason to fear, that’s precisely why we need to say yes to S.30.

Eric Rosenbloom

[Note:  The letter as reproduced here reflects minor editing by the author.]

[Click here to read about Jeff Wolfe's threats regarding S.30.]

wind power, wind energy, environment, environmentalism, human rights, Vermont