Erie County Council voted unanimously in April to join the Lake Erie Energy Development Corp., a nonprofit organization that’s working to bring offshore wind energy to Lake Erie.
This vote brings into the forefront a variety of questions.
First and foremost is the representation of each municipality or district and how they can be represented with the majority of members from the Erie area. The North East district is combined with Summit and Harborcreek townships, and it seems to have little in common with this geographical mix. North East is a rural farming area and would have more in common with other areas of the same type, and be best represented by someone outside of Erie.
How can the unanimity of the council vote be any indication of the will of a district if the district is not truly represented?
The purpose and benefits of classifying the waters of Lake Erie in Pennsylvania as a marine sanctuary also need to be clarified. Under Erie County Council’s guidance, a marine sanctuary is a designation being sought to purportedly benefit Presque Isle Bay and surrounding waters. It seems the sanctuary emphasis would exist primarily for the protection of shipwrecks and do little to protect the wildlife of and above the waters of the lake, as indicated by the contradiction of the newest County Council decision to join the wind turbine industry.
The Great Lakes area is one of the most important bird migration areas in North America, and thousands of species of birds fly over the Great Lakes. The presence of these 400- to 500-foot turbine machines will not facilitate this miraculous migration or help in the conservation of native aquatic species. These turbines are to birds what DDT was to avian populations years ago.
Our expectations of this small corner of Lake Erie are unreasonable if we expect to continue to flush toilets into, drink water from, and create from its beauty and breezes a tourist and energy industry. Just as individuals can’t be all things to all people, neither can our natural resources be all things to us without something losing.
There is nothing unanimous about the County Council decision if representation is lacking, and obvious conflicts exist in the grasp for business and environmental designations.
Shirley Gabronski|North East
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