Eastern Shore wind project should be scrapped; Wind turbines threaten Eastern Shore farmers, wildlife
As a life-long resident of Somerset County, I felt compelled to respond to commentator Andy Bowman’s recent op-ed (“Politics, not safety concerns, hamper Eastern Shore wind project,” Dec. 1).
After telling us for 30 years that industrial wind energy will be self-sufficient if only given a little more time, wind advocates are once again lobbying for renewal of the production tax credit so they can survive.
Mr. Bowman contributed $5,000 to the Obama campaign at the president’s 50th birthday celebration in Chicago as a hedge for when political favors might be needed, and I sense that Mr. Bowman thinks that time is now. He is not just a face in the crowd.
Unfortunately, the administration’s alternative energy policy and that of the O’Malley administration has provided no guidance to assure that the location chosen for a wind farm is responsible and appropriate.
In most cases, energy policy has been mandated to trump the missions of other government agencies. Take these facts into account, and add a local government that is revenue-challenged, and you foster a perfect storm of unintended consequences.
So we have a proposed wind farm in the midst of wildlife sanctuaries, including foraging and nesting areas for the American bald eagle, with the Fish and Wildlife Service being told to walk softly and leave your stick at the office.
The Department of Defense, for its part, has never formally objected to a wind farm until now. That should speak volumes. One thing it says to me is that turning a wind farm off and on to accommodate PAX River’s radar is ridiculous and an affront to common sense. PAX River controls the weather balloons they launch; they don’t control the wind turbines and should not have another non-fail-safe event in place to further complicate their mission.
Somerset County has no wind. To counter the lack of wind, Pioneer Green has submitted requests for approval of 599-foot tall turbines from the FAA to capture higher winds over the woodlands. Even though Pioneer Green has been aware of PAX River’s concerns about turbine height, they have increased the height of their requests from the FAA and even suggested that they might consider 690-foot tall turbines as recently as June.
That’s twice the height suggested by the Navy as acceptable. Would you want the people responsible for the defense of our country to partner with someone who demonstrates such contempt for good faith? The Navy must be absolutely livid. Remember, they must play nice because Pioneer Green is one of the alternative energy guys.
The U.S. Geological Survey records and maps all industrial wind turbines in the United States. There are only two on record exceeding 500 feet, the tallest being a single 584-foot turbine in Indiana.
But when asked to provide examples of turbine locations comparable to the heights proposed for Somerset County, Pioneer Green repeatedly refused to do so. “There are none” would have been the forthright answer, but their representatives have been anything but forthright.
After four years in Somerset County, they still claim they don’t know what size the turbines will be or who will manufacture them. Nor can they produce safety manuals for any of them, noise studies, environmental impact studies. Their tower data are “proprietary” and can’t be shared, and any reasonable setbacks from homes, schools, and major thoroughfares are attacked as threats intended to “zone them out” rather than to protect non-participating landowners from the noise, shadow flicker and threats to property values, all well-established earmarks of wind farms located in community settings.
By lobbying to place the largest wind turbines in the U.S. in an area with no wind, and over the objections of the Defense Department, Mr. Bowman has clearly pledged his allegiance to greed over responsible capitalism.
And by directing his representatives to contract land leases and “good neighbor” agreements before a zoning ordinance was properly debated and approved, he has created ill will between neighbors in the community and fostered distrust of government officials, who in some cases probably should have recused themselves from the zoning debate long ago.
Mr. Bowman and Pioneer Green need to go away. Sen. Barbara Mikulski and Rep. Steny Hoyer should do whatever they can to kill this project.
Jim Martin, Marion Station
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