Column - Need for 'green' overdueThe tug-of-war over a proposed wind farm out east is a classic example of a society so complicated, with factions so at odds with one another, that virtually nothing can get done.
By: Dennis Dalman, Alexandria Echo Press
The tug-of-war over a proposed wind farm out east is a classic example of a society so complicated, with factions so at odds with one another, that virtually nothing can get done.
We’ve seen this deadlock over and over in the U.S. Congress, of course. We’ve even seen it locally with municipal councils, boards and committees. It’s becoming increasingly impossible for anyone to agree on anything. Too many cross purposes. Groups cutting off noses to spite faces. Throwing babies out with bathwater.
The New York Times just published a story about how the U.S. Department of Interior, after scrutinized the issue for nearly a decade, recently approved an ocean wind farm off the shore of Cape Cod, Massachusetts. The “farm” would have 130 wind turbines stationed about five miles from shore, the tallest one 440 feet above water. The project cost is estimated at $1 billion. Supporters claim the turbines would provide up to 75 percent of the electrical power for Cape Cod, Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard. Who could argue about such a “green” energy alternative?
Plenty, that’s who.
Democratic Sen. Edward Kennedy, the late venerable Massachusetts’ patriarch, opposed it as a “giveaway” to the private developer who would build it. Sen. Scott Brown, a Republican recently elected to fill Kennedy’s seat, also opposes the wind farm as a disincentive to tourism in that scenic, historic area.
Some environmentalists are against the farm. Others, like Greenpeace, support it.
There are concerns about the turbines interfering with aircraft radar; concerns about retro-fitting electrical grids to carry the electricity; squabbles about how much the power will cost consumers.
Members of the Wampanoag tribe of coastal Massachusetts oppose the project because their religion requires an unobstructed view of the sunrise for religious ceremonies.
Opponents vow to sue to prevent the project. Most – if not all – of those groups’ concerns are legitimate. However, in this energy-mad world, something’s got to give.
Yes, it would be grand to live in a clean, pristine natural world with glorious views from every angle. Trouble is, that rustic idyll is becoming rapidly impossible for more and more people after population explosions and all manner of exploiters have plundered forests, burned fossil fuels, fouled the air and poisoned the waters.
Recently, I toured a solar farm on the St. John’s University campus, the biggest such facility in the state. On one side of the many rows of solar panels was a field of corn-field stubble. A strange contrast. Past meets future. The energy produced there supplies only about 4 percent of the university’s electrical needs. But, to me anyway, that “farm” makes sense, even as a prototype for more solar energy options to come.
A friend of mine drives a safety guide truck for a company that delivers wind turbines via highway from the Duluth harbor to various places, mainly down to Iowa. I accompanied that turbine “caravan” on one of its trips about a year ago. In southwest Minnesota, I saw a vast field of turbines turning, turning in the wind. It was like seeing a glimpse of our future.
Europe and even China, I’m told, are far ahead of the United States in using innovative “green” energy technologies. It’s about time America catches up. I, for one, would rather look out my windows and see in the distance wind turbines and solar panels than a dead or dying landscape decimated by filthy air and water.