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Letter: Nick Clemente, Leesburg

Fun forest and farming facts: Virginia has 44,700 farms covering 8.1 million acres, and 15.72 million acres of forestland. 90% of Virginia farms are owned by families or individuals, not corporations and account for 32% of all the land in the state. In addition, 62% of our state is forested.

The importance of forests in cleansing the air, purifying our water, providing products, and fostering recreation opportunities must be embraced as our Virginia standard of living depends on the abundance and stability of the forest resource.

Likewise, our farmers provide food for six times as many people as they did in the 1960s. Virginia’s forests and farms are our “commonwealth,” providing both environmental and economic benefits.

Now for some facts about the “clean technologies” being foisted upon us through the Virginia Clean Economy Act and the proposed Green New Deal Act.

Building a single 100-MW wind farm— never mind thousands of them—requires 30,000 tons of iron ore and 50,000 tons of concrete, as well as 900 tons of nonrecyclable plastics for the huge blades. With solar hardware, the tonnage in cement, steel, and glass is 150% greater than for wind, for the same energy output. If episodic sources of energy (wind and solar) are to be used to supply power 24/7, even greater quantities of materials will be required. Oil, natural gas, and coal are needed to produce the concrete, steel, plastics, and purified minerals used to build these green machines. The energy equivalent of 100 barrels of oil is used in the processes to fabricate a single battery that can store the equivalent of one barrel of oil.

Construction of windmills, solar panels and batteries require mining and processing minerals. Compared with fossil fuels, “clean technologies” require a three-to ten-fold greater tonnage of stuff extracted, processed, and assembled to deliver the same amount of energy.Dominion Energy estimates that to comply with the requirements of Green Deal legislation 490 square miles of Virginia forest and farmland (equal to 20 times the size of Manhattan or 237,000 football fields) will beclear cutfor solar farms.Building wind turbines and solar panels to generate electricity, as well as batteries to fuel electric vehicles, requires, on average, more than 10 times the quantity of materials, compared with building machines using fossil fuels to deliver the same amount of energy.

At the current rate, the quantity of worn-out solar panels—much of it nonrecyclable—will constitute double the tonnage of all today’s global plastic waste, along with over 3 million tons per year of unrecyclable plastics from worn-out wind turbine blades by 2050.

Are we ready to sacrifice vast swaths of our state’s lands for solar-array farms, giant windmills and other inefficient yet expensive means of power generation? If you can still get power on sunny, windy days, who needs farmland and forests.

Nick Clemente, Leesburg