Save Our Seashore is a group of Wellfleet residents and nonresident taxpayers who fought to convince the town of Wellfleet to reconsider its plan to install a 410-foot industrial wind turbine in the heart of the National Seashore. On March 30, the Wellfleet Board of Selectmen voted unanimously to abandon the project.
Two weeks ago, I joined approximately 50 people from all over the state of Massachusetts who had gathered together in an attempt to convince members of the Massachusetts House of Representatives to vote against the Wind Energy Siting Reform Act (WESRA). The Massachusetts Senate, led by Senate President Therese Murray, had already passed a similar version earlier this year.
Although we had previously succeeded in delaying the vote in the House – to the surprise and consternation of the governor and other sponsors of the legislation – and though we did succeed in gaining several opposing votes from representatives who took the time to study the bill and who came to appreciate its fatal flaws, we failed to win the day. The bill is now in limbo between the two houses of the legislature where it awaits ultimate disposition – and where there is still hope that legislators will belatedly do their homework and set it aside in favor of a better solution, thus averting the tragic consequences that will ensue if it ever becomes law.
While I was in Boston, I met a woman named Kay Turgeon from Plymouth, for the first and only time. Though I hardly know her, I am sure that Kay is one of the loveliest people I have ever met. Sadly, my brief acquaintance with Kay may ultimately serve only to put a human face on the seemingly abstract, but ultimately ruthless, provisions of this bill.
Kay Turgeon showed me an aerial photograph of her home in Plymouth, in the midst of a vast cranberry bog, where she and her husband, Richard, have lived for over 30 years. She described to me how she and her husband had improved the property over time, building the stonewalls themselves, and that it was much more than just a house. It is their home.
Superimposed upon the photograph was the simulated presence of five massive industrial wind turbines overwhelming the house – excuse me, their home – which Kay’s husband’s boss proposes to build. If I’m not mistaken, the final hearing on the zoning for the project was to be Wednesday, July 21, in Plymouth, but was continued to next Wednesday, July 28. Two of the wind turbines will be within 1,200 feet of Kay’s home. If memory serves, a third will be about 2,000 feet away and the other two not far off.
I didn’t tell Kay this at the time, but if anyone else is even casually interested, I can refer them to any number of people that I have also personally met who will attest that Kay’s life is about to turn into a living hell if the wind turbines are ever installed. In similar instances, a significant number of people, having found that living in such close proximity to such wind turbines is intolerable – and that their house is un sellable (Realtors likely won’t even bother showing it) – have simply abandoned their homes.
Kay told me that the developer had offered them money to compensate them for their loss – to buy them off, really – but that what she wanted was to keep her home – and how could she and her husband consider cutting such a deal while abandoning their neighbors to the such an awful fate?
Legislators, such as Senate President Murray, seem to be comfortable with the notion that we have a moral responsibility to pursue wind energy and that obliterating the quality of life – or the hopes and dreams and 30 years of love, sweat and tears that have been invested in making a house a “home” – is the price we must pay to achieve “energy independence.”
Easy for them to say – especially since they aren’t the ones paying the price.
I view the Turgeons’ situation as a glimpse into the future – a story that will be replicated a thousand times over if the WESRA bill becomes the law of the land. I can’t bear to look at it.
We respectfully urge members of the House and Senate to reconsider this abominable bill, to scrap it, to suffer a minor loss of face, and to come back next year with something better that will resolve the issues at hand without exacting such a heavy toll on innocents like the Turgeons. It’s the right thing to do. And history will thank you for it.
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