More than a decade after Northwest Missouri became home to its first wind farms, University of Missouri Extension is proposing to do the difficult: get opponents and supporters to talk.
In truth, these folks – many of whom share fence lines across the rural landscape – don’t have to talk to one another and may not want to. But all are invited to offer their views at three public meetings where both sides of the contentious debate about wind farm development will be heard.
On the one hand, we wonder why this effort has been so long in coming.
Extension has a long history of assisting rural landowners and agricultural producers with all manner of topical concerns from value-added crops to rural community development; from soil and water conservation and improvement to the harnessing of solar energy.
Wind energy is in Extension’s wheelhouse, and a moderating, informative voice has been needed in this conversation for a long time.
On the other hand, the delay might be understandable. After all, wind energy comes with some serious baggage.
This starts with its massive windmill infrastructure, often out-of-state developers and questions about who really benefits and are the benefits really worth it. It gets serious when pro and con signs sprout along country roads, neighboring landowners choose sides and the arguments spill over to hotly contested elections.
Extension, late or not, is taking a lead now.
“We need to hear your stories and how the recent projects have affected you,” officials said in a news release directed at residents in DeKalb and Atchison counties. “The goal is to respectfully gather everyone’s views and concerns around the issue – pro and con.”
This step actually is prompted by local residents in the two counties asking Extension to provide counsel and resources relevant to wind farms. An MU team is responding by developing a guide to help individuals and communities understand “the concerns, risks, legalities and pros and cons,” Extension said.
This is an opportunity for our rural residents to be heard on a vitally important issue. We encourage everyone interested to make time for one of these meetings.
Meetings are planned from 2 to 5 p.m. Friday, June 29, at the Cameron YMCA at 1903 N. Walnut St. in Cameron and from 9 to 11:30 a.m. and 2 to 5 p.m. Saturday, June 30, at the Velma Houts Building, 201 E. U.S. Highway 136 in Rock Port. For more information, call 660-744-6231.
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