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Protesters gathered outside of the Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center Tuesday against the American Wind Energy Association which was having a conference inside about the positive effects of wind energy for America.
The protestors, led by the Interstate Informed Citizens Coalition, met for the second year in a row to oppose the meeting organized by Ohio resident Tom Stacy.
“This protest is to let people know that the American Wind Energy Association is holding a conference in here trying to figure out how to stuff more industrial wind turbines across the landscape in the sky in ‘Pure Michigan,’ and from a land use planning standpoint, that sounds more like pure mismanagement,” Stacy said.
Activists brought claims that the money spent on wind turbines could be better spent to reduce carbon emissions, that they significantly hurt property values, the amount of government subsidies artificially lower wind energy prices and the standard of living of those living nearby are significantly lowered by the noise and vibrations of wind turbines.
“They are destroying the fabric of our rural life (with wind turbines),” Clinton County resident Ken Wieber said. “That’s the after-effect. We have to deal with that, the lost value and the lost livelihood.”
Peter Kelley, the Vice President of Public Affairs for AWEA, said that the claims presented by IICC are groundless. He said according to studies conducted by both the government and private groups have found no evidence wind turbines lower housing prices, that the government subsidizes wind energy any more than fossil fuels and coal, that there also has never been found any evidence to suggest wind turbines adversely effect the health of those living near them and pointed to the economic benefit of both providing green jobs and a steady income for farmers that allow turbines on their land.
“I’m not saying these people aren’t upset, or that they’re not having health issues, but I am saying that it’s not because of the wind turbines, according to all the scientific evidence,” Kelley said.
He also said many of the anti-wind propaganda leveled against wind energy can be traced back to David and Charles Koch, two libertarian billionaires who are some of the world’s largest coal and other fossil fuel traders and are very active in funding libertarian and Tea Party political causes. He alleged that the Institute of Energy Research, funded by the Koch brothers, was involved through its hiring of Stacy as an anti-wind protester.
Because wind energy is taking up a larger market share from some of the largest companies in the world, Kelley said it has become a target of misinformation, a main theme in the conference, at which pamphlets and booklets designed to clear the air were available.
“In some of the communities people see the wind turbines and they go online and they believe things that are written about them which aren’t true and so we constantly need to be setting the record straight, reassuring people what the facts are, and also what the economic opportunity for Michigan is,” Kelley said.
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