The three children in the back seat were misbehaving instead of enjoying the spectacular beauty of Nantucket Sound as the car hummed slowly along a Cape Cod road.
Actually, the youngest, Kyomi, stayed out of the ruckus. Cindy and Neal were tussling and I finally turned around to yell at them. Pow! I ran right into the back of a car that stopped suddenly. Happily, no one was hurt and there was no major damage.
I made a solemn vow: Even if the kids are murdering each other, I’m never taking my eyes off the road again.
A couple of years after that, I took another scenic trip – up to Wayne County and the Farview State Hospital for the criminally insane (since changed to a state prison), which then was very much in the news because of allegations of inmate abuse. While there, I met Danny Delker of Catasauqua, one of the truly memorable experiences of my journalistic career.
I’ll get back to Farview, but the next time I visited Cape Cod, in 2007, it was still beautiful. We went there to see 10 student researchers from colleges across the nation, being honored for environmental studies at a famous research complex in Woods Hole, also on Nantucket Sound.
The student from Lafayette College was Megan Carpenter, Neal’s elder daughter, who always behaved better than he did while riding in cars, as far as I know.
On Monday, I received an e-mail letter from Don Heintzelman of Zionsville, a nationally known ornithologist, telling me about a story in the Knoxville, Tenn., News Sentinel newspaper. At first I thought it was because of the columns I wrote bashing Tennessee, where the aforementioned daughter, Cindy, is living at the moment (near Tennessee’s most glorious statue, honoring the founder of the Ku Klux Klan).
Instead, the story was about Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., challenging massive federal subsidies for commercial wind farms. He called one $1 billion project ”a costly, colossal mistake Â a taxpayer rip-off.”
I also obtained a copy of Alexander’s new book, ”Going to War in Sailboats” (analogous to combat between a dinky sailboat and the rest of the world’s nuclear-powered warships). It says American wind turbines kill up to 275,000 birds annually, including one California complex that kills 80 golden eagles a year.
One of the world’s greatest migratory routes for eagles and other raptors is the ridge known as Blue Mountain north of the Lehigh Valley. Wheeler-dealers hope to destroy that entire ridge to erect wind turbines, so you can see why an ornithologist like Heintzelman is concerned.
Alexander’s main point, however, was the financial scam surrounding wind projects, not birds. ”It [federal subsidies for wind projects] creates a puny amount of very expensive electricity,” the newspaper quoted him as saying.
The Obama administration has approved a plan to prop up, with taxpayer money, an offshore wind farm five miles off Cape Cod. ”It will destroy a very beautiful Nantucket Sound,” Alexander warned.
The 125 square miles of these monstrosities will generate the same amount of electricity as one small nuclear reactor, he said. (I have made the same point several times in recent years.)
While Obama’s inaugural address touted wind and solar power, it ignored nuclear power, the book notes, and ”the federal government has committed nearly $30 billion in subsidies and tax breaks for wind developers,” who get 25 times as much per megawatt as all other forms of electricity production combined.
Wind turbines could never be viable without being subsidized with taxpayer money, dished out in return for campaign contributions from big wind farm developers. This is not about clean energy. This is about politicians paying off their supporters. (The book did not say that; I said that in previous columns.)
Alexander’s book points out that if taxpayer money was used to provide loan guarantees for 100 new nuclear reactors, it would be a 10th as much money as is planned to subsidize wind turbines to generate the same amount of electricity.
Getting back to Farview, I took a motorcycle ride up to Lake Wallenpaupack the other day just for the heck of it and then cruised up to the hospital/prison site for the first time since the 1970s.
The buildings look the same, and I thought about Delker (who now resides at the Fayette state prison) telling me how he cut off somebody’s head with a saw and how he and the infamous Stanley Hoss bludgeoned a prison guard to death in Pittsburgh. The only nice thing about that previous visit was the beauty of the surrounding mountains.
Now, that beauty has been destroyed. There are windmills all over the place. As I gazed at them, it came to me that Danny Delker’s stories were prettier.
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