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Environmentalists express concern over wind farms' impact

The only people who don't like wind farms are the people who don't have one - that was the punch line of a humorous story T. Boone Pickens told the crowd at Revolution: Oklahoma Wind Conference on Tuesday. But on Wednesday, conference attendees heard from a few people who are concerned that the wind industry is growing too fast to fully account for its effect on the environment, the economy and a multitude of secondary issues.

The only people who don't like wind farms are the people who don't have one - that was the punch line of a humorous story T. Boone Pickens told the crowd at Revolution: Oklahoma Wind Conference on Tuesday. But on Wednesday, conference attendees heard from a few people who are concerned that the wind industry is growing too fast to fully account for its effect on the environment, the economy and a multitude of secondary issues.

"This is going to happen," said Sue Selman, owner of a ranch just north of Woodward, shortly after Wednesday's program. Selman said she is not against wind energy. "But it's got to be done right, or we're in trouble. It's got to be done reasonably and ethically," she said.

Selman said she and others who share her concerns have asked the Legislature, the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, and state environmental agencies to form some sort of regulatory structure for the newly blossoming industry.

"We've begged for some kind of regulation, some accountability," said Selman. "I know some of these companies have been rushing to try and get their foot in the door before any regulation can happen."

Though wind farms have been touted as a way for landowners to... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

The only people who don't like wind farms are the people who don't have one - that was the punch line of a humorous story T. Boone Pickens told the crowd at Revolution: Oklahoma Wind Conference on Tuesday. But on Wednesday, conference attendees heard from a few people who are concerned that the wind industry is growing too fast to fully account for its effect on the environment, the economy and a multitude of secondary issues.

"This is going to happen," said Sue Selman, owner of a ranch just north of Woodward, shortly after Wednesday's program. Selman said she is not against wind energy. "But it's got to be done right, or we're in trouble. It's got to be done reasonably and ethically," she said.

Selman said she and others who share her concerns have asked the Legislature, the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, and state environmental agencies to form some sort of regulatory structure for the newly blossoming industry.

"We've begged for some kind of regulation, some accountability," said Selman. "I know some of these companies have been rushing to try and get their foot in the door before any regulation can happen."

Though wind farms have been touted as a way for landowners to increase their wealth, Selman said bad contracts have caused financial hardship for some landowners. The two-day wind conference hosted a panel of attorneys on Tuesday afternoon who discussed problems landowners may experience in dealing with wind farm developers. A landowner could be made liable for taxes owed by the development company, for instance.

"One had to get permission from the wind developer to use his oil and gas rights," she said.

The keynote speaker for Wednesday's luncheon was Mark Tercek, CEO of The Nature Conservancy, based in Arlington, Va. Tercek, a former managing director and head of the Center for Environmental Markets for Goldman Sachs, stressed the environmental concerns posed by wind energy.

A nuclear power plant can be built on a 1,000-acre tract of land, but a solar energy plant with comparable generation capability would require 80 square miles - or 51,200 acres - said Tercek, and a comparable wind farm would require 200 square miles.

Land use changes related to the lucrative allure of the wind energy industry could cause unintentional consequences, Tercek said. Wind farms may have a negative effect on birds' and animals' natural habitat. The lesser prairie chicken, for instance, does not like wind turbines. The grassland-nesting bird is an endangered species present in regions of Kansas, Colorado, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Texas.


Source: http://www.istockanalyst.co...

DEC 4 2008
http://www.windaction.org/posts/18172-environmentalists-express-concern-over-wind-farms-impact
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