Library from Maryland
The governor talked at length about developing clean, renewable energy sources, whether it be solar power, wind or otherwise. A wind energy coalition has applied to build wind turbines on state land in Allegany and Garrett counties. O'Malley said that a "balance" must be struck between harnessing renewable energy sources and preserving Mountain Maryland's scenic beauty. "We did not want to make a decision without hearing from everybody," said O'Malley, who said that the western part of the state is "one of the most beautiful places that God put on the planet."
One of the most important public meetings in the history of Garrett County will be held in the auditorium of Garrett College next Wednesday evening, when officials from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources will be present to receive testimony from citizens about the proposal to place wind turbines on state forest land in the county. It is hoped that all 300-plus seats of the auditorium, as well as every available square foot of standing space, will be filled. ...Even John Griffin, secretary of the DNR, said that it is unlikely that there will be any kind of wind-energy development in the bay and around Ocean City "in our lifetimes." (His exact words.) So basically the proponents of wind energy, including our governor, are seeking "the path of least resistance." That path would be right here in Garrett County, folks. Because we are much fewer in number than those who live in the aforementioned areas downstate, this is where they want to open a door that will be almost impossible to ever close again. What it equates to is a total lack of respect for those of us who live here, those of us whose livelihoods are based directly or indirectly on the tourism industry, which will most certainly be damaged if the wind towers are allowed to be placed on state land. How dare they.
The Citizens For A Responsible Energy Future sent this letter to all landowners in Garrett County, MD. The full letter can be downloaded by clicking on the link below.
Sen. George Edwards, who sent a letter Friday to Gov. Martin O'Malley opposing energy-producing wind turbines on state lands in Western Maryland, said the issue must be resolved. Edwards said he's spent considerable time meeting with a number of constituents and groups to learn more about the issue. "The way the majority of these people (think), even those who support windmills, oppose putting them on state land," Edwards said. "I think there's other things better we can do on state land, than put windmills, that would provide a lot more benefit for local people. The best thing the state can do is not allow windmills on state land in Allegany and Garrett counties." Edwards said wind turbines on private land "is a little different than (placing them on) state-owned property" and questioned whether it is a good idea to rely on wind as an energy source for the masses.
The Garrett County Democratic Central Committee voted to oppose a proposal to use public state forest land to build industrial-size wind turbine plants in the Potomac State Forest and the Savage River State Forest. The GCDCC will present testimony in opposition at the Maryland Department of Natural Resources public hearing ..."We are aware of the lobbying in Annapolis that US Wind Force is paying for," he continued, "and we are aware of the law that was passed deregulating wind plants. We also know that the county has not adopted any zoning laws restricting wind industry development, and the draft Garrett County Comprehensive Plan appears to encourage such development." Stanton said that the effect of those decisions is to block most opportunities for public input. "Therefore it is absolutely critical that the public be heard through at-tending and speaking at the public hearings, through letters and e-mails, and by telephone calls."
For all of us who cherish the beauty and natural qualities of Allegany and Garrett counties, our citizens have a responsibility to seriously question the state of Maryland government as public officials negotiate with the company, U.S. Wind Force, to erect 100 wind turbines, each the size of the Washington Monument in our mountains. ...Most importantly, and not really surprising, is the indisputable fact that little has been done in the area of planning and policy development at the local, state, and national levels of government on erecting wind farms on public lands. Has any one at the municipal, county, or state level given any thought to what constitutes protection of public health and safety for siting and operating these giant 400-foot industrial turbines with capacities of 1.65 to 2 megawatts of power? There is a lack of planning capacity in rural Allegany and Garrett counties, as well as the rest of the Maryland, to deal with this complex issue, and the state does not seem to want to provide any assistance or do much to stand in the way of the wind developers. Let's face it, from a statewide perspective Western Maryland is the place of least resistance.
For all of us who cherish the beauty and natural qualities of Allegany and Garrett Counties, our citizens have a responsibility to seriously question the State of Maryland government as public officials negotiate with the company, U.S. Wind Force, to erect 100 industrial wind turbines, each the size of the Washington Monument in our mountains. ...Most importantly, and not really surprising, is the indisputable fact that little has been done in the area of planning and policy development at the local, state, and national levels of government on erecting wind farms on public lands. Has any one at the municipal, county, or state level given any thought to what constitutes protection of public health and safety for siting and operating these giant 400 foot industrial turbines with capacities of 1.65 to 2 megawatts of power? There is a lack of planning capacity in rural Allegany and Garrett Counties, as well as the rest of the Maryland, to deal with this complex issue, and the state does not seem to want to provide any assistance or do much to stand in the way of the wind developers. Let's face it, from a statewide perspective Western Maryland is the place of least resistance.
I generally support the use of wind power as a source of cleaner energy, but this project seems dubious to me. One concern with wind power is what effect turbines may have on birds in a particular location, particularly during migration. The most obvious threat is the possibility of birds hitting the turbines. A more insidious threat is the reduction of habitat by 400 acres, and the degradation of surrounding forest with the introduction of more edge areas. Answering that concern would require significant field research; I would hope that the DNR would have that data on hand before granting permission for the project. My second concern is the use of public land for private gain. ...Overall, I think this is one project that the DNR should drop.
The Maryland Department of Natural Resources has changed the dates of two public meetings about the possibility of wind-power projects on state forest land in western Maryland. The first meeting will be held the night of January 30 at Garrett College in McHenry, a week later than previously scheduled.
So many people have flooded the Maryland Department of Natural Resources with emails, calls and letters about a proposal to build wind turbines in state forests that the agency has been forced to find a larger venue for its public hearing. "We've had a lot of interest expressed, so we changed the date," said Olivia Campbell, spokeswoman for the state wildlife agency. "We are making it easier for the public to participate. We realize a lot of people have passion on both sides." ...Some people have expressed strong opposition to the idea of letting developers rip up state forests and build tall industrial machines. Others strongly support the idea of using state property to generate clean, pollution-free electricity.
Scenery or aesthetics management is a key element of any planning process that is committed to integrating human values into ecosystem management. The proposed wind farms do not fit into this process because they would bring green energy only in an environmentally destructive form. The wind farms would be the proverbial Trojan horse: Masqueraded as a green energy source, they would bring esthetic and environmental destruction.
However, wind plants provide virtually no capacity to the grid, as does every conventional generator. Spending $400 million for energy and no capacity is, energy-wise, incredibly stupid; only the gullible would support the idea - or those who would make immediate investment profits from it. ...But here's the real challenge for Joe McDaniel's take on wind technology: Where is the responsible - or even logical - environmental ethic in dynamiting, clear cutting and fragmenting scores of miles of some of the rarest, most environmentally sensitive, and picturesque mountain habitat in Maryland to install, for example, 200 skyscraper-sized machines in order to produce less than 100MW of hit-or-miss energy in a region that annually generates nearly 140,000 MW of electricity, with no assurance these wind projects will abate carbon emissions and with certainty they will not supplant any conventional generators, including especially coal?
... a critical analysis of the workings of our region's electricity grid reveals that industrial wind energy development within Appalachia belies its "green" reputation. ...Wind turbines will not lessen our dependence on foreign oil. Maryland's Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) law requires that 9.5 percent of its electricity comes from renewable sources (basically from wind) by 2019, with a bump to 20 percent likely. Do the math. Meeting the aggressive RPS goals of Maryland and other states in the PJM grid region will require the permanent destruction of hundreds of miles of forested Appalachian ridgelines to accommodate thousands of wind turbines. Is it worth it? Hardly.
The Allegany-Garrett Sportsmen's Association determined Tuesday that it's 2,500-member organization would weigh in concerning a recent request by US Wind Force to place windmills on state forest land managed by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. "We will research the issue and discuss the matter at our January meeting before voting on it," said Bill Wilhelm, named Tuesday as the group's president for the upcoming year. Some, however, were ready to voice their opinions right away. "We should oppose any windmills on state lands and also study any impacts if they would be put on private lands," said Mike Rugola, who will be AGSA's secretary during 2008. Outgoing President Mike Griffith agreed and noted that AGSA's next meeting and vote would take place before DNR meetings on the subject are conducted.
... a proposal by U.S. Wind Force to lease 400 mountaintop acres in the Savage River State Forest and Potomac State Forest so it can install about 100 wind turbines the size of the Washington Monument, may be one of the most destructive and dangerous policy proposals ever to confront he citizens of Allegany and Garrett Counties. ...It is very troubling that Gov. O'Malley is even considering this proposal, while at the same time promoting tourism and economic growth in our region. This is good stewardship of our natural resources and an improvement to our public land? This is government working in our behalf? At the Mountain Maryland PACE Legislative Breakfast held earlier this year, our Governor said, " ... we are preserving our heritage - protecting our forests ... and promoting tourism." Really?
Topics from wind turbines on state land to alcohol sales on Sunday were discussed at a legislative forum held on Saturday at Garrett College. "We continue to have problems on the southern part of the county (with wind turbines)," Bob Lewis of Oakland said. "But I sense a lot of opposition on this. There are people taking a stand against this that have not previously taken a side on the issue." Delegate Wendell Beitzel and Sen. George Edwards both discussed their views on this current topic of debate. Beitzel said he was opposed to placing industrial windmills on state forests, saying the land is something that needs preserved. He said other parts of the state are coping with the loss of farmland and open space because of development. "We're really lucky to have this state land in the county," he said. "I'm very much opposed to these."
U.S. Wind Force, a Pennsylvania-based company, has made a request of the state of Maryland to lease some 400 acres of state forestland to place 100 turbines atop Backbone and Meadow mountains. These would, of course, be in addition to dozens of other turbines tentatively scheduled to be erected on private property on Backbone. ...because this proposal calls for the use of "protected," state-owned (that is, technically, citizen-owned) lands for these projects, we have a whole new ballgame, and every single resident of Garrett County - even those who generally support wind-produced energy - should vehemently oppose it. If Governor O'Malley and the other two members of the Public Service Commission approve this (and the governor is really the only individual who has the power to stop it), it will be an absolute travesty. It would amount to our own governor selling us out here in Garrett County by opening this particular door that will lead to the degradation of our most pristine land; a door that would never again be closed.
Wind power in Western Maryland has long been an issue of debate, but a recent proposal made by a Pennsylvania-based company could involve a change in policy for leasing out state lands for wind turbines. US Wind Force has made a request at the state level to lease about 400 acres atop Backbone and Meadow Mountains, located in the Potomac-Garrett and Savage River state forests, with a total of around 100 turbines at the two locations. "I think this has to be handled on a case by case basis," Ernie Gregg, commission chairman said. "Some areas of the state could accommodate that. It needs to be handled judiciously."
The Maryland Department of Natural Resources will hold public hearings next month on whether the state should allow developers to build wind turbines in state forests, a proposal being advanced by a Pennsylvania company. U.S. Wind Force is asking the state for leases in Potomac State Forest and Savage River State Forest in Western Maryland so it can clear about 400 mountaintop acres and raise about 100 wind turbines. ..."Maryland is committed to developing clean, renewable energy sources that support a healthy environment," said Natural Resources Secretary John R. Griffin. "However, our public lands belong to Maryland's citizens and it is critical they have a voice in a decision-making process that could forever change our rural landscape."
Mark Diehl, conservation chairman of the Western Maryland Group of the Sierra Club, and Sam White, Western Maryland representative of the Maryland Sierra Club, both told the District 1 legislative delegation Saturday during a public forum at Allegany College of Maryland they oppose that type of renewable, clean, alternative energy source. But why? For starters, Diehl said, "it's just not worth it. It seems like a good idea" but it's not. He said it would take too many tall, unsightly turbines - "thousands, maybe tens of thousands" - to gather enough wind and produce enough energy to make a difference. The alteration of the area's scenic beauty, he said, isn't worth the sacrifice.