Article

Wind power and solar power need to be promoted in the right places

Instead of messing with farms, let's put solar and wind energy facilities where they belong. ...This legislation tries to satisfy one societal need - clean energy - by compromising another - preserved farmland. Perhaps it's easier to place clean power generation facilities on open land than retrofit other sites, but this tendency to look to greenfields to satisfy new development needs is precisely the kind of practice that has brought so much sprawl to New Jersey.

There is something reassuring about the farms we have worked so hard to preserve here in the nation's most densely populated state. Not only are the Garden State's farms beautiful to look at, but they also produce fresh food and help fight global warming.

As food prices rise and concerns about climate change deepen, preserved farmland becomes increasingly precious. Agricultural soils "sequester" carbon as they produce crops that feed the state. In turn, locally grown foods cost less - and leave a smaller carbon footprint- than produce shipped from distant places.

But what we call a preserved farm will change dramatically if a proposal to promote commercial solar and wind energy facilities on preserved farmland becomes law.

A bill making its way through the state Legislature redefines agriculture to include wind and solar power generation. These new "agricultural uses" would be afforded the protections and benefits of the "Right to Farm" and "FarmlandAssessment" laws.

A standard dictionary definition of agriculture is "the science, art, or practice of cultivating the soil, producing crops, and raising livestock and in varying degrees the preparation and marketing of the resulting products."... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

There is something reassuring about the farms we have worked so hard to preserve here in the nation's most densely populated state. Not only are the Garden State's farms beautiful to look at, but they also produce fresh food and help fight global warming.

As food prices rise and concerns about climate change deepen, preserved farmland becomes increasingly precious. Agricultural soils "sequester" carbon as they produce crops that feed the state. In turn, locally grown foods cost less - and leave a smaller carbon footprint- than produce shipped from distant places.

But what we call a preserved farm will change dramatically if a proposal to promote commercial solar and wind energy facilities on preserved farmland becomes law.

A bill making its way through the state Legislature redefines agriculture to include wind and solar power generation. These new "agricultural uses" would be afforded the protections and benefits of the "Right to Farm" and "FarmlandAssessment" laws.

A standard dictionary definition of agriculture is "the science, art, or practice of cultivating the soil, producing crops, and raising livestock and in varying degrees the preparation and marketing of the resulting products." Looping power generation into this definition is a stretch.

There is no reason to stop farm owners from using solar panels and wind turbines to power their agricultural operations and selling excess energy back to the grid. This makes sense and should be encouraged. But redefining renewable energy as agriculture could end up discouraging farming and squandering the potential of our nutrientrich soils.

Don't get me wrong; I'm a big proponent of solar and wind power. There is clearly a pressing need for renewable energy and there are a multitude of places where it should be promoted and encouraged. But preserved farmland is not one of them.

This effort to redefine agriculture creates legal issues, too. Public dollars preserved these farms by extinguishing development rights, yet none of the revenues generated by commercial solar and wind facilities would go back the public. That hardly seems fair and may in fact be unconstitutional.

Instead of messing with farms, let's put solar and wind energy facilities where they belong. Warehouses, shopping malls and office buildings cover vast swaths of New Jersey. Why not put them to work by installing solar panels on rooftops? And shouldn't we look into finding new uses for abandoned industrial and commercial brownfield sites?

This legislation tries to satisfy one societal need - clean energy - by compromising another - preserved farmland. Perhaps it's easier to place clean power generation facilities on open land than retrofit other sites, but this tendency to look to greenfields to satisfy new development needs is precisely the kind of practice that has brought so much sprawl to New Jersey.

Agricultural land that is supplying food and pastoral beauty, fighting global warming and providing an alternative to sprawl shouldn't be diverted for power generation. Please contact your state legislators and urge them not to support this bill, S-1538/A-2859.

The author is the Executive Director of the New Jersey Conservation Foundation



Source: http://tritown.gmnews.com/n...

OCT 29 2008
https://www.windaction.org/posts/17685-wind-power-and-solar-power-need-to-be-promoted-in-the-right-places
back to top