BAD AXE — Huron County is paying the price locally for national policy on wind power and fracking, according to a county commissioner.
“We’re pawns in a very big game,” John Nugent told the Board of Commissioners this week.
“I’ve heard Donald Trump come out strongly against wind turbines, and I’ve heard him come out strongly in favor of fracking, Nugent said.
“I’ve heard President Obama come out strongly in favor of wind energy, and the Democratic platform opposes fracking.
“They, on a federal level, they make these decisions to support fracking or to support wind, and we, at the local level pay the price. We can’t collect the taxes. We fight amongst each other — the people of the county fight amongst each other — but they succeed in their political goals. It’s a shame.”
Trump has compared wind turbines to terrorism, Nugent said.
“Trump told the Irish Times that, ‘The wind turbines were equivalent to Pan Am flight 103, also known as the Lockerbie bombing, a 1988 terrorist attack that killed nearly 200 Americans. ‘Wind farms are a disaster for Scotland like Pan Am 103. They make people sick with the continuous noise. They are an abomination and are only sustained with government subsidy.’”
“That’s the Trump view, and essentially, I think that’s the Republican view in a certain way. He kind of represents the Republican Party at this time,” Nugent said.
“It’s going to be very hard to get what you think you’re going to get from the wind farms and it’s going to be very hard to stop fracking,” he said.
The commissioners recently passed a resolution opposing fracking — a mining technique used to shatter subsurface shale rock to release oil and gas.
Commissioner John Bodis said the best way to avoid the issue is for landowners not to sign leases authorizing fracking.
“I’ve actually had some people come up in support of fracking, and think that I should reconsider. My mind’s made up,” Bodis said.
And anyone who signs a contract allowing wind turbines on their property should read the contract, he said.
“If you do sign a lease, make sure to read it over really careful, and have an attorney go over it,” he said.
“One person was complaining to me about the wind turbine contract and I said, ‘You should have read it. You’re the one who signed it. You agreed to it. You didn’t read it?’” Bodis said.
“(They) said it was seven pages. All the more reason to read it,” he said.
Commissioner Sami Khoury said that people were signing leases based on word of mouth, and not reading them nor taking them to an attorney.
“(Wind developers) take advantage of the trusting nature of people — especially people in Huron County — who really are good-hearted people,” Nugent said. “They take advantage of that trust factor and do not pay them a fair amount.”
Nugent said each turbine brings in $300,000 to $400,000 annually in revenue.
“And the landowner gets ($10,000)?” Nugent said.
“It’s disproportionate,” he said. “And then we fight to get the tax money from (the developers). It’s criminal what we’re dealing with. It’s not criminal in the real sense, but it’s damn irritating,” Nugent said.
Bodis pointed out that landowners have signed contracts, and now want the county to resolve their problems.
“They signed the contracts,” Bodis said. “And now that there’s issues. It’s coming before this board to resolve issues because they signed a contract.”