Charlene Ellis and Fred Taylor write in “Beware of ‘wind warriors’” (April 6, Letter Box) that: “Only with a concerned effort by all of us to formulate renewable energy policies based on science, rather than propaganda, will be able to protect the Vermont landscape we cherish.” Yet they ignore that call and only defend their smearing of those fighting to protect Vermont’s ridgelines from energy development with smearing them some more.
Despite their call for science, they simply ignore the possibility, let alone the clear evidence, that giant wind turbines erected on sensitive ridgelines do more harm than good. Instead, they accuse anyone who questions such industrial development as dupes of fossil fuel, as if the biggest wind developer in the U.S. isn’t coal giant Florida Power and Light (aka Nextera), as if the biggest turbine manufacturer isn’t nuclear and gas plant (and military weapons) giant General Electric, as if Enron and George W. Bush weren’t the ones who more than anyone created the modern U.S. wind industry.
Science rather than propaganda seems to be precisely what Ellis and Taylor do not want, as they cite only pro-wind hype and demonize all who disagree with them. One is reminded of Joseph McCarthy more than Rachel Carson, of an enthusiasm for censorship and slander more than honest discussion.
Their need to explain it as an “ultra-conservative” plot hatched last year in Washington also apparently prevents them from learning much about their neighbors fighting big wind in Vermont, particularly that the fight goes back more than 10 years, with the seeds planted after the erection of 11 Zond turbines (bought by Enron the next year, then by GE in 2002) in Searsburg in 1996. The statewide advocacy group Energize Vermont arose from the fight to protect the ridges west of Rutland which began at least five years ago. They build on the work of the Kingdom Commons Group, the Glebe Mountain Group, Ridge Protectors, and many others that have brought Vermonters of every political leaning together in common cause. And there are countless other such groups around the world, from Oaxaca (where Reporters Without Borders last week condemned international companies and the state for the harassment, arrests, and physical abuse of journalists covering wind energy development on Zapoteca land) to Denmark (where virtually no new onshore wind capacity has been added since 2003), New Zealand to Germany, India to Ireland.
The fight to protect our landscapes from poorly considered, profit-driven, big energy development that does such clear harm to the environment, to human and other animal habitats, has always represented – and does so still – a concerted effort by informed citizens to use science guided by the heart rather than profit or tribal dogma.
The provision of S.30 that most scared industry was for greater involvement of host and affected neighboring communities in the permitting process. Informed citizens thinking for themselves seem to be exactly what they don’t want, or more cynically, can’t afford.
Hartland, April 8
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