As one of the politicians who has “pulled out the stops” in the debate over wind energy, I take exception to the May 19 op-ed from Clean Wisconsin.
I represent the 197,000 good folks of Wisconsin who live in the heart of wind country, where dozens of those massive turbines dot the landscape. To reduce this debate to a series of clichés that does everything except accuse my neighbors of being un-American misses the point.
As a Wisconsin state senator, I’ve introduced several bills in the Legislature on the wind issues, but none of them has anything to do with the politics of wind.
This is primarily a public health issue, and, if we are moving toward wind as an energy resource, it is imperative we site these turbines in a responsible and safe manner.
In my district, there are many families that have developed serious health issues because the turbines were placed too close to their homes. The problems run the gantlet from nausea to overwhelming migraines to heart arrhythmia.
We depended upon the state Public Service Commission to decide where a turbine can safely be located. The commission blew it. The PSC worked with Clean Wisconsin last winter to determine if the turbines were causing the health problems of my neighbors.
The final report said something extremely important: “We recommend additional study on an urgent priority basis…”
We simply don’t know all we need to about how bad the wind turbine health impacts are, and it is irresponsible to advocate building more turbines until we know the answers.
The rest of the world is more advanced in wind energy. Why don’t we follow their lead on placement?
In Germany and Australia, turbines must be at least a mile from a home. In Britain and Denmark, new wind turbines are banned. Yet in Wisconsin, we think one-quarter mile is far enough? What on Earth can the PSC know that the rest of the world has missed?
We owe it to everyone in Wisconsin to slow down this rush to grab land for wind turbines. The turbines damage our health, they put our wildlife at risk and, frankly, we don’t need them. Wisconsin already has far more electric generation ability than we need for the next 20 years.
Adding more capacity simply pushes up costs for all electric users. Wisconsin electric users paid an extra $200 million as of last year for the privilege of using wind generation.
Shame on Clean Wisconsin for turning this into a political debate at a time when we can’t even answer the most basic of public health questions. Whom do the wind turbines harm, and how long-term are their effects?
I know three families that have moved from their homes and dozens more that can’t afford to yet would like to move because of the negative health impacts. I wonder if attitudes would be so cavalier if these symptoms were caused by the oil and natural gas industry?
There is plenty of time to debate the politics of wind – and when supporters are ready to discuss massive taxpayer subsidies and the fact we already create too much electric power in Wisconsin now – it demands further real-world discussion.
Until then, Clean Wisconsin is entitled to its opinions, as are my constituents. But it is not entitled to its own facts, particularly when its opinion is driving some people from their homes and dramatically devaluing others’ homes.
State Sen. Frank Lasée (R-De Pere) represents the 1st Senate District.
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