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Building windmills won't eliminate fracking

I was talking with a friend in New Brunswick who is challenging both hydrofracking for natural gas and industrial wind power plants.

We were discussing the frustrating divide amongst groups that should be working together for effective change and the belief among many that wind turbines are the solution to prevent fracking. Her response, after working for years on the fracking-versus-wind issue, was very insightful.

“I think there is a distinct reluctance to accept the fact that wind has big flaws simply because some environmental hope is better than none at all and wind is seen as a sort of panacea.

“Criticism is like pulling the environmental life jacket away and that’s too hard to take. It might also mean that we all have to look at what is important … the concept of reduction. Nobody wants to hear this. It’s OK to keep on doing what we are doing, and hope that a technology that won’t solve the problem will work for us.”

And that is the bottom line: industrial wind power plants won’t solve the fracking issue. Physicist John Droz wrote, “Most environmental groups are blindly supporting wind energy. The fact is that there is no such thing as wind energy by itself. Wind energy must be paired with a conventional source of energy. Countrywide the most frequent source is gas.

“It should be clearly understood that support for wind energy is de facto support for more gas power. Therefore, anyone who supports wind energy is (in effect) supporting hydrofracking. Conversely, one way to reduce hydrofracking is to get rid of wind energy.”

Former provincial energy minister Bill Estabrooks substantiates this point in a Jan. 5, 2009 letter to the Eco Awareness Society. He wrote, “A combination of strengthening our transmission system to bring on new renewable energy resources … combined with smaller scale natural gas peaking capacity should allow us to develop wind in a positive manner.”

Droz goes on to say, “We need to do a better job of publicly connecting the dots. The consequences to human health (between wind power and hydrofracking) are comparable, but the biggest difference is that, worldwide, wind power will affect a thousand times the number of people that hydrofracking will. That is simply horrific.”

It’s time that groups stop fighting each other and find ways to work together to find legitimate solutions that will make a lasting difference to our urgent climate change and energy issues.

As the Scottish environmentalist John Muir wrote, “Our goals should not be blind opposition to progress but rather opposition to blind progress.”

Susan Overmyer, media relations

Eco Awareness Society

Bailey’s Brook, N.S.