Alas, I had never even heard of Tundra Swans until my husband Tom and I recently became involved in the siting of the swans' deadliest enemies ... industrial wind turbines. Now I can and do identify with them. The field shown in Ken Bell's photo is one of many Canadian Tundra Swan migration areas where thousands of these birds congregate annually as they migrate between Alaska and the Chesapeake Bay.
The Canadian field is marked for wind turbines. Who will monitor the carnage?
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the makeup of New York, each county is divided into towns which are, in turn, further divided. Within the Town of Clayton, there are inhabited islands, individual villages, large farms, residential areas, ponds, streams and marshlands. Our northern-most boundary is the St. Lawrence River, with Canada on the other side. Bell's photo symbolizes the Horse Creek Residential Area within the Town of Clayton where 330 houses are threatened by a plan to build 62 industrial wind turbines (Phase One) much much too close to the 1,000 people. Apparently, neither the Town nor PPM could find a better location. I question whether they even tried. If 1,000 people live where winds are considered adequate, and if the Town ignores warnings of documented risks, it is likely the developer will be allowed to build them there.
Why not err on the side of caution while there is time to do so? The Town and the developer cannot long continue to ignore documented risks. They cannot long continue to insist that the research is fictional. I and hundreds of others who look for this information have found documents pertaining to industrial wind turbine risks in the areas of physics, infrasound, biology, medicine, audiology, blasting methodologies, low frequency sound, noise exposure data, industrial hygienics, high speed vibrations, physiology, ambient sound, peripheral vasoconstriction, industrial vibrations, etc. etc. etc. Our local government frequently has been advised of this research, and to err on the side of caution. They alone are responsible to inform and protect the public, especially when they and we have been mesmerized, misinformed and mislead by turbine marketing experts.
62 towers 407 feet high, each with three blades of 130 feet length,
and each blade to weigh 7 metric tons. And that is only Phase 1!
PPM and the Town of Clayton are determined to place their turbines in the midst of a quiet residential area. If the plan is carried out as planned, five of these houses (families) will be exposed to turbine behemoths sited within a half mile of the front door, back door and everything in between; ditto seventeen houses (families) within one mile. That is a wake-up call for slumbering Town Hall officials.
Until I read the Clayton Law, I assumed it was written of, by and for the people of the Town of Clayton. I was totally mistaken. The first of dozens of clues is found on, but not limited to, the opening page, "The Town Board of the Town of Clayton finds and declares that Wind Energy Facilities may (my emphasis) present a risk to bird and bat populations if not properly sited." In my considered judgment, only a very poorly worded or copied legal document could find and declare such subjectivity. Evasive wording always reveals the necessity to avoid or cloud reality. Whereas snappy evasiveness is the heart and soul of the marketing world in which manipulation is the goal, it has no honorable use whatsoever in legal documents. The truth is that industrial wind turbines do kill airborne creatures. And someone must be paid to account for and record the carnage.
Secondly, the siting is undeniably the primary culprit. Developers demand as many turbines as large and as close together as they can squeeze them, regardless of risks to all living creatures, including humanity. It is the developer who pronounces site requirements, not the Town, but some local officials accept them without hesitation.
I was advised by a trusted friend early on that our elected officials had worked very hard and [had] researched wind turbines thoroughly which made me wonder why he volunteered to say that when I had not asked him about it. That's the moment I began to think seriously about what sources they had used. It became increasingly clear that the two large (6 1/2 pounds each) PPM marketing-based notebooks may have constituted their only source. Time after time, I watched board members pour over these publications like academically insecure sophomores prepping for an exam at 8 the following morning.
Why all the homage to PPM? We did not elect turbine developers to swear allegiance to the United States Constitution and the New York Constitution for our protection. We elected our peers to do that. We had faith when we witnessed them, right hands raised, repeat the brief standard Oath of Office early this year. There were no specifics as to responsibilities, simply and eloquently an oath to abide by the constitutions. They swore their allegiance to both constitutions, period.
Please remember that former United States Supreme Court (USSC) Justice Sandra Day O'Connor wrote in her honorable dissent from the disastrous 2005 Eminent Domain Opinion, "Now the specter of condemnation hangs over all property owners [and] nothing can prevent the state from replacing any farm with a factory."
Remember too that Justice John Paul Stevens, speaking for the disgraced majority, interpreted public use to "include slum clearance and land redistribution. The Court should not second guess the local governments." Thus did the USSC abandon millions of American farmers and land owners to the whims of local officials, many of whom seem to form questionable relationships with turbine developers."
The New York State Constitution declares unequivocally that town governments are responsible for the protection, order, conduct, safety, health and well-being of all persons and properties within the Towns. With industrial wind turbines, Clayton did nothing of the kind. They did nothing to protect us from the developer's contracts which were offered and signed months in advance to an uninformed and therefore unprotected rural populace. They consistently ignored and ridiculed independently documented wind turbine risks. They remained silent regarding these risks. The only protection or preparation the Town offers magnanimously to the public is a "free of charge" CD which contains nothing but every word, chart, graph, biased research data and promise from the two huge PPM marketing-based notebooks. Voir dire! We are defenseless.
Clayton residents recall the day a Town official on his PPM-sponsored bus tour of Maple Ridge Wind Farm, said proudly with a wave of his arm, a jerk of his thumb and a nod of his head, "The new wind farm over there in Horse Creek will eliminate all the trailer trash." Hello? Some of the houses over there in Horse Creek are worth far more than many of the houses over here in the Village of Clayton. Thank you just the same, Sir, but they are no more trailer trash over there than we are trailer trash over here. Define your terms, Sir.
We love our town and our village. We are proud of the world class museums, the church socials, gift shops, the history, marinas and schools; the parades, the new dock, the new medical center, the restaurants, the hardy people. Presently, we are deeply ashamed of our local officials. We adamantly refuse to wrap ourselves in the blind blanket of happy apathy when it comes to siting too many industrial wind turbines too close to too many people. We have chosen, therefore, to fight for an amended Town Law. In other words, we will fight to eliminate evasion, avoidance and manipulation; we will concentrate, instead, on honor. My remarks are based on my research and my considered judgment.
Moral: Never trust a smiling cat or man who has swan feathers on his whiskers.
Next month: Those Pesky Turbine Contracts.
washingtonpost.com (Charles Lane, June 24, 2007)
NYS Constitution Article 9 - Bill of Rights for Local Governments
USSC, Kelo v. City of New London, 545 U.S. 469 2005
Editor's note: PPM Energy recently placed the Horse Creek wind proposal on hold due to concerns relating to bat mortality.