Wednesday’s night’s meeting of the Zoning Commission should give all of us hope that true democracy is not yet dead in Ellis County. The meeting unfolded with a series of victories for the opponents of this project, the very first of which was the turnout of a lot of people who made me proud to be their neighbor. I happen to know people traveled from as far as Florida to have a say in this process. The second was the timely intervention of our good friends at Ft. Hays State University who provided an adequate venue for a hearing on such a serious issue. They ensured that more than half the people who showed up could not be excluded from participating in this process. And the third was an Act of God in the form of a tornado touchdown – right in the proposed wind farm area – an Act of God that abruptly adjourned the meeting and left everyone envisioning just what a tornado would do to these towers – inundate nearby houses with a blizzard of shrapnel. Houses that represent people’s only properties – not someone’s financial investment. The ‘Ice throw’ debate was suddenly framed in a much scarier perspective. Maybe that out-of-town church with land in this deal feels duped by this process and was praying for it to fail. I don’t know. But I do know that as a result of these events, even more people will now have a chance to defend their rights and have their opinions heard.
As I began to say that night, somewhat dizzy with fatigue, this is not only about a development with winners and losers, it is about the future of democracy in Ellis County. It is about truth in government – and it is about and finding out who your real neighbors are in the most important sense of the word. And this is another problem for this community that will also remain long after those corporate shills are gone. These people are turning neighbor against neighbor. But that’s exactly their strategy – divide and conquer.
Which brings me to the neighbors who would prostitute themselves and their land for this money. They don’t live anywhere near this project, you can be sure of that, and they have an entitlement mentality – just like those infamous cattle barons more than a 100 years ago. They were here first, they own everything now, and they can do whatever the hell they want. And apparently they are first ones to jump on this fast-buck express. Screw their neighbors, screw the environment – they don’t have enough money yet. They have an antiquated attitude of entitlement and it is now up to the good neighbors of this community to let them know that that they no longer live in a feudal system where wealth bestows special privilege.
These towers are more than twice the height of the Statue of Liberty – and that is ironic, very ironic indeed, because this is only going to happen at the expense of the civil liberties and civil rights of many people – all for the benefit of a few wealthy families looking for the easiest way to make a fast buck on land they don’t want to farm anymore. Heck, we may as well call them the “Hays Mafia” – everyone knows who they are, but no one dares speak the family names. But they certainly aren’t the responsible citizens of this community.
During the 4 years we were all ‘supposedly’ aware of this project, do you think any of these big landowners contacted me personally, as a friendly neighbor, to say ‘Hey J.P., what would you think if I put a few windmills behind your house’? Nope. Instead they left these shady operators to scare the poop out of me and everyone else about two weeks before this meeting. Well, I’ve talked to lot people in this town recently, and hardly anyone had any idea what was going on here – and that was exactly the Mafia plan. Once again, it needs to be recognized that a lot of innocent landholders have signed up for this that have no idea what a wind farm really is. Old people, retired people, family trusts held out of town by people who have no idea how populated this area is. They are also victims of this local Mafia.
And this local Mafia knows me very well. Some of them have supported my research. I have rounded up their cattle for them when they broke through a fence – and then fixed the fence because they weren’t around. They will drink beer with me at my own table and stop to help me when my pickup breaks down (well they used to, anyway). But I guess they figured a little college professor like me wouldn’t understand this kind of ‘high-level’ business deal. Or maybe I just don’t own enough land.
If you think this whole deal reeks of selfish greed, corruption and conflicts of interest by those who would profit at our expense – and the expense of our local environment – please go to http://www.everydaycitizen.com/. Click on the links to learn about the risks of wind farms and sign the petition. This is NOT “farming”, it is “industrialization”. If you don’t have a computer just mail your signature and address to me at 1189 180th Ave. I can’t stop this thing – but this community can – provided they are willing to stand up and be counted as a group of Americans who can’t be bought out or run off their own land.
Wind farm will be an ‘environmental atrocity’, submitted March 26, 2007
The proposed wind farm west of Hays will represent a nightmare development for everyone living in the area. This is not a project driven by local needs, nor will it represent a net benefit to our community.
It is a project driven by individual and corporate greed that will export both the power and the profits. It is a four-year-old conspiracy by a handful of greedy landowners to make huge profits and saddle this community with an ecological catastrophe for perpetuity. Representing only a few families, all inter-related by marriage, these people have been planning and pushing for such a project for at least four years now and they appear about to realize their dream – at the expense of their neighbors and the environment of this community.
The major beneficiaries of this project do not even live on the actual land affected, but they will make substantial annual income from each tower and get a break on their property taxes while small land holders like ourselves receive absolutely nothing by way of compensation for all the numerous “externalities”
associated with this form of energy generation. These negative impacts are guaranteed to reduce property values for everyone else living in the area. A lengthy and detailed list of the potential hazards to human health and environment can be found on my blog – there are too many to enumerate here. Concerned citizens should visit my blog and sign the
petition against this attempted rape of our environment.
The term “wind farm” is a deceptive euphemism for an environmental insult – there is nothing “green” about the power they produce. The carbon footprint for installing a single tower takes seven years of (successful) operation to recover. Diesel engines are required to kick start turbines that have come to rest. The lifetime of towers is still a matter for speculation, but abandoned windmills that have outlived their usefulness litter stretches of California landscape, leaking toxic fluids and heavy metals. The removal of a single tower is estimated to cost $1 million. By my calculation, this project will require more than 300,000 tons of crushed rock for access roads and cement – and it has to come from close by. The same family that will receive 39 windmills happens to own a gravel pit right across the road. Coincidence? I think not.
This whole deal reeks of corruption and conflicts on interest – all the way up to the zoning board itself. It seeks to bully and take advantage of small landholders who happen to live outside the city boundaries that would otherwise protect them from such blatant abuse and exploitation – all so that a handful of “inside traders” can siphon off millions of our tax dollars, without which this project would be neither feasible, nor profitable.
Consider also, there is a complete lack of federal standards regulating the operation, maintenance, and environmental responsibilities of wind farms. Neither the EPA nor the NIH have established standards for wind farm operation that protect human health and safety. This burden of responsibility rests entirely on the municipalities that permit these developments.
Any unforeseen problems arising from this development will be a burden for our local government to bear in perpetuity.
The Ellis County Zoning Commission exists to defend the interests of the community as a whole – not to serve as puppets for the interests of a handful of greedy landowners seeking personal profit. If the zoning commission approves this project they will be selling out the residents of this community and blighting our landscape for eternity – and they will do so under a dark cloud of conflict of interest. The proposed $600,000 contribution to the county budget is nothing more that a corporate bribe that could evaporate at a moment’s notice. It is a laughable pittance compared to the negative impacts of this development, and nowhere near enough to offset the permanent damage it will do to our environment.
To those who would sell out for this project, we have only one question. What kind of citizen puts their own personal greed ahead of the environmental health and safety of their neighbors and their community? We strongly urge every citizen of Hays with a concern for their environment and quality of living to stand up against this proposed environmental atrocity – otherwise we will be saddled with an ecological nightmare for eternity.
By J.P. Michaud
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