This starts out as a fly-fishing story. Uncle Ted and I had cut a swath through the blue ribbon trout streams of the greater Yellowstone area. The Tedder is a renowned fisherman and hunter in Idaho, and so far the highlight of the trip for me was that I was staying even with him. Now I had a new challenge for Ted. I had intrigued him with a story I had written for a fly-fishing magazine on catching common carp on the fly. I also had been periodically sending him Plain Dealer articles by D’Arcy Egan highlighting me fly fishing for carp on the Rocky River and other area streams. Now the Tedder was ready to broaden his horizons as we headed for Blackfoot Reservoir, a high mountain lake holding large numbers of carp outside of beautiful Idaho Falls.
Anyone who has driven south from Ashton, Idaho, to Idaho Falls has been struck by the beauty of the western slope of the Teton Mountains. Before heading to Idaho, I had reread Osborne Russell’s classic, “Journal of a Trapper.” We had just driven by Pierre’s Hole, the famous scene of combat between Russell and other white trappers and their Crow Indian allies and the hated Blackfeet Indians. I was pumped. At last, we headed up the escarpment east of Idaho Falls toward the High Country.
I had never been to that area of the Rockies, and every mile became more beautiful as cattle gave way to mule deer and hawks became more prevalent in the sky. I mentioned to Ted that I thought this was one of the more gorgeous stretches of the Rockies I had ever seen, to which he replied, “Wait a few minutes.” As we went around a broad mountain bend, the things started appearing on the horizon. My first impression was that we were being attacked by a horde of the mechanized dinosaur war machines in the movie “The Empire Strikes Back.”
The entire aesthetics of mile after mile of High Country vista was destroyed. Ted, a retired Forest Service wildlife biologist, mentioned to me the depredation caused by the wind turbines to the hawks, owls and other raptors in the vicinity. He also mentioned that the “whoosh, whoosh, whoosh” noise of the blades was maddening to any wildlife, livestock or humans within sound of them. As concerning to the biologists was the disruption all of this had caused to the migration patterns of the elk and mule deer.
When I got home and spent just a few minutes on the Internet, I quickly verified the toll caused by wind turbines on the raptor and other bird populations. The best and an ironic example of this was the massive San Francisco Altamont Pass project. After porcupining beautiful Altamont Pass with thousands of wind turbines, legal action by the Audubon Society years later forced a multimillion-dollar replacement to more “bird-friendly” blades to address the high toll on the bird population. Anyone want to place a bet on that solving the problem?
Interspersed with the typical favorable mainstream media stories on wind power were other interesting articles noting a variety of other relevant issues, such as the fact that these wind farms would not have come into existence but for heavy federal, state and local tax subsidies. In other words, they have been too inefficient to justify their existence under such private-sector concepts as cost-benefit analysis. Other interesting facts: The damn things don’t work if the wind is too low or high, thus necessitating a traditional and charged backup power grid, the removal of which was the justification for these monstrosities coming into being in the first place. Google “Scotland castles and wind farms” and you will see a U.K. Daily Mail article titled, “The View? Gone with the Wind.” The pictures will make your jaw drop, and the first sentence says it all: “They are famous Scottish landmarks which have withstood wars, weather and centuries of change – but they could not escape the Scottish Government’s green agenda.” And lastly were the anti-aesthetic icing-on-the-cake notations that a growing number of wind farms are simply being abandoned in Europe and North America. All of this politically-correct foolishness for a truly minuscule enhancement in power.
But what if the wind industry had evolved differently? Let’s say the things were actually efficient, didn’t require traditional-power-grid backup and didn’t require massive taxpayer subsidies. Let’s also say that because of these efficiencies, wind farms were developed by private entities such as Exxon Mobil or, better yet, Halliburton. Is there any question that the mainstream media and the intellectual elite would have destroyed the industry by now, citing the bird depredation and destruction of the natural places where these farms are typically located?
W’hen I am driving into downtown Cleveland, the existence of isolated, individual wind turbines along the highway doesn’t overly bother me. When I force myself not to contemplate the taxpayer subsidies inherent in those structures, I think they are kind of cool, even though I know they provide no net enhancement to our domestic power supplies.
But as a general statement, I would beseech (even demand) that you wild-eyed Greenies, you crony capitalists and you vote-buying politicians keep your inefficient, counterproductive, aesthetic-destroying, taxpayer-subsidized, bird-killing hands off of our mountains, deserts and Great Lakes.
Mark Altieri is an accounting professor at Kent State University, where he teaches advanced tax courses, and special tax counsel to the law firm of Wickens, Herzer, Panza, Cook and Batista in Avon.
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