One of the most important public meetings in the history of Garrett County will be held in the auditorium of Garrett College next Wednesday evening, when officials from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources will be present to receive testimony from citizens about the proposal to place wind turbines on state forest land in the county. It is hoped that all 300-plus seats of the auditorium, as well as every available square foot of standing space, will be filled.
This column has been utilized on a number of occasions to opine about the many negatives surrounding these giant wind machines, most recently focusing on this latest, positively outrageous proposal to allow state land in Garrett County to be used as sites for wind farms. The intent here today is not to rehash a lot of those negatives, but to approach the issue from yet another angle.
Readers should note the map of Maryland that appears on the front page of this newspaper today. The purpose of the map, produced by the U.S. Department of Energy, is to indicate the regions in the state that are the optimum sites for wind turbines. Note that Garrett County has only a few mountain-ridge lines that are classified as “good” (in pink). Most of the county is rated from “marginal” to “fair.”
Now take a look at the tens of thousands of acres in and along the Chesapeake Bay, as well as the East Coast (Ocean City area), that are rated as “good” for wind turbines. Yet, has there been in recent years even a mention of placing wind turbines in that massive area, either on private or public land? That would be a resounding no. And why? Because the screaming of the residents who live there would likely be audible all the way up here in Garrett County.
Even John Griffin, secretary of the DNR, said that it is unlikely that there will be any kind of wind-energy development in the bay and around Ocean City “in our lifetimes.” (His exact words.)
So basically the proponents of wind energy, including our governor, are seeking “the path of least resistance.” That path would be right here in Garrett County, folks. Because we are much fewer in number than those who live in the aforementioned areas downstate, this is where they want to open a door that will be almost impossible to ever close again. What it equates to is a total lack of respect for those of us who live here, those of us whose livelihoods are based directly or indirectly on the tourism industry, which will most certainly be damaged if the wind towers are allowed to be placed on state land. How dare they.
The proverbial cart has been placed way before the horse in this case, as wind-energy farms are going up all over the country with almost no regulation in place. And as stated here before, once they are up, they will be there nearly forever, even if they are ultimately shut down and abandoned. The damage will be done, and will be virtually irreversible.
So we need a big turnout at next Wednesday’s meeting at the college (6:30 p.m.), as well as at the meeting in Annapolis next Thursday, to do all we can to put a stop to this proposal. And then our county commissioners need to immediately adopt some stringent regulations regarding wind turbines so we do not have to keep revisiting this issue.
24 January 2008
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