The Wabaunsee County Commission showed both nerve and judgment Monday in preventing the construction of wind farms in that county.
The decision should end efforts on the parts of some companies to construct such farms, although those efforts will continue elsewhere. Morris County, for one, already has suggested it may be amenable to allowing wind farms. The matter is also on the table in Riley County.
But Wabaunsee County was in many ways the most fascinating test case because it is an area steeped in the best elements for this debate. Proponents view wind farms essentially as a property rights issue. Owners of the land make money for every tower constructed, they make it maintenance free, and they also make it substantially without disruption to the land’s farming or ranching purposes. There are a lot of farmers and ranchers in Wabaunsee County.
But there are also a lot of dramatic vistas, vistas that opponents say would be scarred by the construction of wind farms. In fact, there are few if any places in the entire Midwest more worthy of preservation as an example of the great Midwestern prairie than those Wabaunsee County vistas. We have previously sided with, and we continue to side with, those who argue against spoiling the grandeur of the prairie by allowing wind farms within the more scenic areas of the Flint Hills.
The argument in favor of wind farms as an alternative energy source is not without merit. That force is small, but it could potentially grow. Frankly, we might be more persuaded toward that argument if the energy produced here was to be used here, and to hold down energy prices here. That, however, is not the case. The energy produced by the wind here would be shipped out of the region for use. It is true that in a broad sense all energy today is interchangeable, and in that sense Kansas derives some fallout benefit from the use of alternative sources in Missouri, Florida or Kentucky.
It is also true that some folks look at wind farms and see beauteous works of man. Taste is funny that way. To us, the Flint Hills look better as nature intended them.
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