Editor’s Note: Though this guest column comes to us all the way from Nebraska, the issue at its heart is of high importance to our Seneca County readers and the column has been printed for that reason. – The Advertiser-Tribune
A few weeks back we received word from the Wheeler County Commissioners that they had unanimously passed a county zoning regulation that entirely bans industrial wind energy projects in that county.
First of all, I want to say how proud of them I am. It takes courage for elected representatives to stand up to the big wind companies. Furthermore, this is more clear and convincing evidence that Nebraska’s state law works just fine. Chapter 23 of the revised statutes is crystal clear in the power it gives counties, and I am glad it does.
I read in the local paper recently that there is a lot of “myth and misinformation” about wind energy. The article was forwarded to me by one of wind energy’s strongest lobbyists in Nebraska. He argued that only a poorly informed “vocal minority” opposes wind energy, and the vast majority of citizens support it. Clearly this man hasn’t spent a lot of time talking to people in my legislative district. Whenever someone directs the argument away from the numerous problems created by wind energy to a discussion about the relative size and importance of the opposition instead, it’s easy to see where that train of thought is headed.
Attacking the opposition by calling them insignificant is the tired old tactic of the wind lobby who think their right to get a fat check from the wind company is more important than how their neighbors may feel about being forced to live next to these things. Attacking your neighbors as insignificant cranks without a legitimate argument is how wind energy does its greatest damage to Nebraska: they tear the fabric of the community apart. Those lucky few who make impressive amounts of money, and everyone else who is forced to be neighbors to the scourge of industrial wind energy. They are more than happy to make the wind energy argument about two coyotes and a fat turkey discussing what to have for supper. They’ve been successful at this approach for many years. Thankfully, counties in Nebraska and around the country are pushing back.
Gage County recently passed a one-mile setback rule between homes and turbines. Stanton County banned wind turbine development in 2017. Dakota County is debating a moratorium on wind energy. My research has found over eighty counties and parishes around the United States that have either banned wind energy or restricted it in some way, and the list is growing rapidly.
Wind energy isn’t good for the environment. It slaughters wildlife and makes some people sick. It isn’t free. It doesn’t lower your electric bill. The tax rate they pay hasn’t changed in over a decade. Wind facilities are bought and sold numerous times over the life of a project, often leaving the county holding the bag for their decommissioning. We don’t need the electricity in Nebraska. We have enough surplus generation to power a second city of Lincoln.
County government in Nebraska has the power to decide whether or not wind energy can be built in the county. The more local government is, the better it is.