Where Are the Defenders of Nature and Communities?
National Wind Watch challenges support of industrial wind power by major non-profit groups
October 26, 2006 -- Many advocacy groups, fighting global warming and the negative environmental and health impacts of fossil fuel or nuclear energy, have embraced large-scale wind power as part of a solution.
Those organizations are misguided in their support of wind energy, says National Wind Watch (NWW), a coalition of grass-root groups defending wild places and rural communities from industrial development.
"Groups like Greenpeace and the state PIRGs [Public Interest Research Groups] have built their reputations by speaking out against rampant development and destruction of the environment," says Eric Rosenbloom, a Vermont science writer and current president of NWW. "In the past, they have reliably taken the side of communities against the greed of heedless corporations or convenient politics. But with industrial wind, they've gone to the other side. They're effectively acting as shills for giant energy companies looking for a fast buck with a trendy but very flawed technology that destroys landscapes, ecosystems, and communities."
According to material on NWW's web site, www.wind-watch.org, wind power on the grid has not been shown to reduce emissions or replace other sources of electricity to any degree that justifies its own negative impacts. Because it responds only to the fluctuating wind and not to actual user demand, it adds instability to the power load, thus further burdening other sources of power to keep the system balanced.
Since the environmental benefits aren't there, NWW questions the support of industrial wind power by so many organizations that are otherwise defenders of the environment.
"The argument that local sacrifices are necessary to save the planet just doesn't hold up," said Lloyd Crawford, NWW treasurer and owner of Stump Sprouts guest lodge and cross-country ski center in West Hawley, Mass. "These giant machines won't make the slightest dent in global warming. Their negative impacts, on the other hand, are substantial."
Those impacts include the disruption and deaths of birds and bats, fragmentation of habitat, damage to watersheds, and visual as well as auditory intrusion day and night. In addition to their immense height, tons of cement and steel in the foundations, and acres of clearance, wind power facilities require strong straight roads and substantial new transmission infrastructure.
National Wind Watch calls on all organizations interested in protecting the environment, wildlife, and human communities to more carefully consider the facts about industrial wind energy. The unavoidable conclusion is that big wind is a threat rather than a savior to those interests.
The statement from National Wind Watch was released to coincide with the 16th annual conference of the Society of Environmental Journalists in Burlington, Vt., Oct. 25-29, 2006. NWW will be represented at an exhibit table by its Vermont affiliates led by Sheffield-based Ridge Protectors, along with Kansas affiliate Protect the Flint Hills and Industrial Wind Action of New Hampshire.
This is the second year that NWW has exhibited at the SEJ conference. The ad hoc Coalition for Responsible Wind Power, created by NWW founding member Dan Boone of Maryland, has exhibited for the previous two years and last year welcomed the newly formed National Wind Watch to participate.
National Wind Watch information and contacts are available at www.wind-watch.org.
National Wind Watch® is a nonprofit corporation established in 2005 by campaigners from around the U.S. to promote knowledge and raise awareness of the negative environmental and social impacts of industrial wind energy development. Information, analysis, and other materials are available on its web site: https://www.wind-watch.org.