Where have all the environmentalists gone? Son-of-a-gun - just when you need them, they go silent. How can drilling in ANWR be so offensive to so many, but constructing thousands of windmills on our mountain tops within our daily eyesight be so acceptable? I just don't get it.
Lisa Linowes from WindAction.org was my radio show guest just a few weeks ago and her words were quite profound. An objective analysis of windmills as even a partial solution to our energy needs just isn't cutting it. The numbers just don't add up. It maybe time to use the old adage, "Liars can figure, but figures don't lie". Obviously, the American Wind Energy Association is a powerful lobby taking us in a direction that will only result in that warm and fuzzy feeling, but our lights may not come on. From the Rocky Mountains to Texas to Maine people are finally beginning to question the logic and effectiveness of wind energy.
Let's talk numbers. A windmill is capable of generating 1 to 1.5 megawatts of electricity when the wind is rippin'. Without wind you get nothing. Compare that to a 1300 megawatt nuclear power plant and you need over a thousand windmills to compete, but don't forget the gale force winds. Currently, wind energy provides less than ½% of our nation's energy needs. If we installed windmills from sea to shining sea, we may provide 5% of our nation's energy requirements. The math doesn't add up. Neither does the trade off.
Now let's talk negatives. Roads must be built up and down our mountain ridges to construct and maintain these contraptions. Habitat fragmentation is enormous. Migratory birds get clobbered. Our view-sheds turn real ugly. The noise level will give some a migraine headache. Let's not forget ice will form on these blades in the winter and blades do break. Our mountain tops will be off limits to hunting and hiking in short order. Imagine from New York to West Virginia the entire Appalachian Mountains laced with windmills. Surrounding property values will take a hit. New transmission lines will need to be built across private property. Eminent domain will be applied to those in the way. Unfortunately, some windmills will probably receive a few bullet holes. I am not condoning this behavior, but people do express their anger in different ways. The Appalachian Trail will never be the same, if it remains open.
Now some of you are saying the construction of these "wind farms" will create substantial economic benefits. Not really. Once construction is completed one employee per 25 windmills is all that is needed to monitor generation. That employee maybe located hundreds of miles away at a control panel. In PA and a few other states, windmills are exempt from state taxes. Getting the picture? This is more about feeling good than actually solving our energy needs. Interestingly, the Sierra Club, champions of the wilderness debate, is a supporter of windmills. I just don't get it.
Let us not forget the battle cry to build windmills was born from the fear of earth's demise due to global warming. If you are watching this debate closely, the global warming argument is collapsing faster than a migratory bird hit by a windmill blade. The computer models are being challenged, the predicted temperature profiles are going down, the predicted sea level rises are causing laughter and the true scientific community is going in the other direction. A normal cyclical warming trend, maybe, but catastrophic global demise is not happening.
Back in ANWR there is enough oil to fill the pipeline and possibly supply 30-40% of our nation's oil needs for the next 30 years. This would certainly buy us the time to intelligently and comprehensively debate how we are going to address our dependency on foreign oil and domestic coal.
Once again, the hypocrisy within this debate is mind-boggling. The environmentalists will sue to stop timbering, sue to protect roadless areas, sue to protect endangered species and sue to protect our drinking water. Government will support their efforts. However, when it comes to the whole scale industrialization of rural America, government is out front and the environmental community is dead silent.
I just don't' get it.
Jim Slinsky is the host and producer of the "Outdoor Talk Network", a nationally syndicated, outdoor-talk radio program. For a station near you or to contact Jim, visit his website at www.outdoortalknetwork.com.