A state Department of Environmental Protection wind energy expert blames growing opposition to wind farms in Pennsylvania on city residents who have moved to rural areas “and don’t want to see turbines,” according to an Associated Press report.
Kerry L. Campbell of DEP told the Maryland Wind Working Group workshop in Bethesda, Md., last week that in contrast, people who grew up in Pennsylvania’s mountainous coal country tend to welcome wind farms as a more green energy source, the Dec. 17 AP story said.
His published remarks drew a sharp retort from Laura Jackson of the anti-wind energy group Save Our Allegheny Ridges in Bedford County.
“Many residents in Bedford County who are against wind turbines ruining their mountains are not from the city,” she said. “They are natives of rural America, and they value the rural qualities that will be damaged by industrial wind.”
Interviews conducted by The Patriot-News in September for a series on resistance to wind power found that many of the most vocal opponents in west-central Pennsylvania are longtime residents of that area.
Several opponents of wind farms have said they would be less concerned about the turbines if they were located in the state’s vast coal wastelands and not on the pristine mountain ridges favored by developers.
A DEP official who is Campbell’s boss, while distancing the agency from his remarks, said the Rendell administration is cognizant of differing attitudes toward development around the state.
“I think that was a personal reaction. It is not the official position of DEP,” said Daniel Desmond, DEP deputy secretary for energy and technology deployment. “I think it is fair to say that the administration is sensitive to the fact that some communities are more resistant to development of any kind.”
Desmond said he spoke to Campbell about his remarks and was told they were taken out of context.
“We harbor no broad assumptions about which geographic regions like or oppose wind energy projects,” Desmond said.
Campbell’s remarks were reminiscent of complaints from the state’s agriculture industry in years past that former city residents were the main complainers about foul odors and other pollution from factory hog farms.
By David DeKok, Of The Patriot-News
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