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Legislation on building wind farms encouraged

During a rally in Harrisburg Monday, representatives of nine citizens’ groups urged the state Legislature to adopt rules on where wind farms can be built.

The state Department of Environmental Protection regulates erosion and sedimentation issues related to wind-farm projects, but the Rendell administration has left it to municipalities to adopt comprehensive ordinances, and most have not.

As a result, there is almost never a requirement in Pennsylvania for a public hearing on whether a wind farm ought to be built in a particular location.

“Our legislators need to mandate regulations,” said Laura Jackson, a schoolteacher who is with the group Save Our Allegheny Ridges in Bedford County. “The negative impact of wind farms on the rural lifestyle is ignored.”

Neil Weaver, a DEP spokesman, said the place for citizen input is at the municipal level. If people want tougher regulations, they need to persuade townships to adopt them, he said.

Speakers at the rally sought to portray wind energy as not worth its environmental cost, producing electricity only about 20 percent of the time and even less in the summer, and dependent on federal subsidies to survive.

“They’re a great tax shelter for investors and speculators,” said Dr. Terry Doran of the Folmont Property Owners Association in Somerset County.

Other speakers said they were fighting proposals for wind farms on ridge tops in Dauphin, Lycoming, Potter, Tioga, Somerset and Fayette counties. All said they would support wind farms in the right places, especially at reclaimed strip mines.

While the groups were inside the Capitol protesting wind energy, John Hanger and his PennFuture public policy group were on the sidewalk at the Capitol steps saying wind turbines are necessary medicine if people are serious about fighting global warming.

Hanger used a wheelbarrow full of coal and two dead fish to illustrate his argument that coal mining and the use of coal to produce electricity cause far more environmental harm than wind turbines.

He said it’s “just plain wrong” to say that the electricity produced by wind turbines would be just a drop in the bucket of America’s total power needs.

By David DeKok

The Patriot-News


18 September 2007