Library filed under Impact on Landscape from Washington
But residents who love rural Washington’s bright open spaces deserve better than a “get used to it” scolding as their landscape changes. The transitions to channel sunshine and canyon winds into the power grid must be managed with sensitivity. The shift to cleaner energy is too essential to lose progress to a deepening cultural clash.
Opponents have gained the most traction in rural neighborhoods, like the one west of Goldendale near the Hansons’ property, where some large farms have been subdivided into smaller tracts of land, attracting an influx of retirees and others who don’t want to see nearby landscapes transformed by solar panels. Fierce debates over solar siting also have erupted in other areas of the country, stretching from Virginia to Indiana to California.
Friends of the Columbia Gorge and Save Our Scenic Area, two non-profit conservation advocacy organizations missioned with protecting the Columbia River Gorge region, provided these comprehensive comments to the Bonneville Power Administration in reference to the proposed Whistling Ridge Wind Energy project. The project, owned by SDS Lumber Company, would consist of 50, 1.2 to 1.5 MW turbines. The opening portion and conclusion of the letter is provided below. The full comment letter can be accessed by clicking the link(s) on this page.
The preferred management plan for the Malheur, Umatilla and Wallawa-Whitman National Forests, dated February 2014, declares on page 97 that wind farms are suitable for construction in the national forests. The public only has until June 12 to submit comments.
In its reconsideration petition, which the EFSEC declined last month, WRE says the scaled-down project - with 15 turbines eliminated - would probably not be economically viable, partly because there is no room for larger turbines that could return the wind farm to its proposed capacity.
Some might have gotten perverse satisfaction that the west side of the Cascades was to get a dose of the visual blight that wind power generators bring. But frankly, we feel Western Washington is entirely too beautiful to be subjected to those spinning giants.
The 15 turbines that the council recommended removing included seven that would have loomed over the community of Underwood, Wash., and eight of the 29 turbines that would be visible to motorists entering Hood River on I-84 westbound. ... the turbines in question would be "impermissibly intrusive into the scenic vista," and that there was no way to mitigate against those impacts.
"We're encouraged that the council was concerned about scenic impacts, but this decision does not go far enough," Baker said. "It would reduce the number of turbines but there would still be several turbines breaking the skyline with flashing lights and moving blades."
"All the clause says is that the developer is to ‘give highest priority to increase the distance.' So long as the developer says ‘well, we tried, but this is the best we can do' there is no way to move forward on an enforcement action because the developer has satisfied all that the clause requires. Simply speaking, the clause the governor added sounds good, but means virtually nothing."
Tonight the Umatilla County Planning Commission meets to discuss whether to adopt an amendment to the county's comprehensive plan that would ban giant wind turbines. ...The Blue Mountains are a resource shared by folks who live in Southeastern Washington and Northeastern Oregon. Anything that changes that resource is cause for concern, which is why we believe the "No Turbine Zone" amendment is worth considering.
A National Park Service official says a wind project proposed for a Skamania County site just outside the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area would intrude on the experiences of people traveling two national historic trails. Both the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail and the Oregon Pioneer Historic Trail pass through the Gorge, and both also pass within five miles of where turbines would rise at the Whistling Ridge Wind Project, said Rory D. Westberg, the Park Service's deputy regional director for planning and resource management.
A potential wind farm envisioned straddling a ridgeline near Larch Mountain in east Clark County has been put on hold. The state Department of Natural Resources, anticipating a boom in wind energy development spilling across the west side of the Cascades, wants more information before it considers leasing western state forests to wind farmers.
Frustration emerged on the face of Yakama elder Johnson Meninick as he walked along a dirt access road in the Windy Flats wind farm project just south of town. The road, intended to make way for another series of wind turbines in the 88-turbine project, follows a ridge overlooking the Columbia River Gorge and is flanked by dozens of rock cairns -- historical footprints of his ancestors -- and colorful wildflowers and rare medicinal plants.
Wind power has been proposed in letters to the editor as a good option to LNG, but there is no silver bullet solution to our energy needs, as far as I can see. Because wind power depends on the wind, it is an unreliable source of electrical power. Wind power must be backed up by a more reliable conventional power source. That power source is LNG. As wind power develops out, more LNG power plants will be built to back up wind power. Wind power cannot replace LNG; it will, instead, make LNG more necessary.
Picture 400 super-size windmills spinning in a steady, stiff ocean breeze just beyond the horizon off the Washington coast, generating enough electricity to supply the needs of Seattle and Tacoma. Now picture thousands of similar windmills off California, New England, the mid-Atlantic, the Great Lakes and the Gulf of Mexico. Even as Congress is embroiled in a sharp debate over whether to allow increased offshore oil and gas drilling, others are seriously working to develop a green source of energy along the outer continental shelf.
A proposed wind farm development Washington is creating some controversy. While the plan is still in the very early stages, the designers envision placing wind turbines on a ridge near Larch Mountain, east of Battle Ground. ...A proposed wind farm development Washington is creating some controversy. While the plan is still in the very early stages, the designers envision placing wind turbines on a ridge near Larch Mountain, east of Battle Ground.
It would be a lot easier to choose up sides in the Columbia Gorge wind farm disputes if the capitalists wanted to dig open pit mines or put up oil derricks and extract resources from the land and then truck or pipe them away for decades to come, risking erosion, spills or explosions. If that were the case, it would be easier to spew venom and spread fear about money-grubbing, land-raping operations planned along the border of the nation's first national scenic area. ...[T]he scenic area was created almost 22 years ago, and by now its protection ought to be a sacred duty and universal desire. We should be beyond the point of nibbling around the edges of the law and violating its spirit. Erecting giant towers, seven of which would be partly visible from parts of the gorge floor, seems a violation of that spirit.
Eight years ago, when my wife and I bought a 28-acre farm on the serene and beautiful Tucannon River near Dayton, we had no idea we were in the crosshairs of wind tower developers. Later, despite being told we would not see the towers, we now look out our dining room window at 43 wind turbines. About 14 miles northeast of Dayton, where Highway 12 crosses the Tucannon River, you start to see the desecration that the wind projects have wrought.
The wide open spaces and natural terrain and wildlife of Southeastern Washington are fading, and some residents would like the encroaching effects of urbanization toned down, such as a proposed project that would place 35 to 50 turbines on Rattlesnake Mountain. More than 30 people showed up Saturday at the Richland Community Center for a meeting to oppose a proposed windmill farm at the base of the mountain. ...Rick Leaumont, chairman of the Audubon Society's conservation committee, agreed that urgency in protesting the project is necessary because about 238 bird species have been documented in the area, and would be effected by the windmills. "Wildlife needs some kind of solitude, a place that is theirs," Leaumont said. "Any location on the mountain would be a problem."
Debate over putting wind turbines on Rattlesnake Mountain appears to be maturing faster than plans for the project itself. ...Guettner said Rattlesnake Mountain may be an ideal spot for wind turbines, but not one the public is likely to accept. "I feel like there's a supermajority of people who feel the way I do," he said. "I think it's time we marshal these people." ...Rick Leaumont, Audubon's conservation committee chairman, said about 238 bird species have been documented in the area. He said they are regularly coming and going to and from the monument, often crossing the mountain. "Any location on the mountain would be a problem," he said. "It's like an airport."