Editorial: DOE wind farm study leaves out ‘ugly’

Editorial from the Tri-City Herald:

DOE wind farm study leaves out ‘ugly’

It is not on the same scale, of course, but the now widely accepted assumption that wind power is “green” reminds us of Harry S. Truman’s attack against McCarthyism as “the big lie.”

The basic underlying truth of Truman’s argument was that if repeated often enough and loudly enough, in any context, even a blatant lie becomes accepted as truth by some.

We argue that the definition of wind power as green is disingenuous because it leaves out something that in the early days was an integral part of the environmental movement before it was ever even called green.

Visual pollution.

From debris in the roadway to overhead electric lines in neighborhoods or across the visual fields of great buildings or works of art, most people knew what visual pollution was.

They still know, but those who hold onto their “greenness” like a religious conviction simply ignore it.

Now we can count the U.S. Department of Energy among the extremist groups.

DOE commissioned a near-mindless study by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory to see if wind farms in nine states hurt nearby home sales.

Now the Livermore lab is already on record as supporting wind power — virtually no questions asked.

Here’s a recent example of a class being offered at the facility:

“Those windmills spinning away in California’s hills and mountain passes provide clean and renewable energy to our power grids. Today, the possibilities are even greater. As we face energy shortages and the effects of climate change, the wind is an inexpensive, inexhaustible and nonpolluting source that is becoming an important part of our energy future. This lecture will explain how wind turbines convert the forces of the atmosphere into electricity for our homes, businesses and even cars.

“It will explore how much power could be collected from the wind, how that amount compares to our demands, and how weather forecasts help wind turbines provide even more clean, renewable and reliable energy.”

Not one word about ugly.

Now we are aware that some people like the images of gigantic turbines on the horizon around here.

We cannot say that most people feel otherwise.

But we are certain that at least a substantial number of our citizens object to them.

DOE just seems to be brushing them aside with the new report.

“Wind farms have no measurable effect on nearby property values, according to a government report,” The Associated Press reported.

AP also reported that, “Questions about the integrity of the $500,000 Berkeley study were aired even before the report was released.

Anyone driving from the Tri-Cities to Walla Walla cannot fail to have noticed the windmills, looking not unlike Orson Welles fictitious “alien beings” marching out of the hills or like the giant heads of Easter Island.

DOE’s researchers say they took into account the recession and other factors, even including the number of bedrooms and location of schools in the study of sales of home within viewing distance of the turbines.

“That’s not to say there are not individual homes or small groups of homes that have been impacted by the presence of wind projects,” one of the researchers told AP.

Right. But still, the main criterion seems to be the exchange price “taking into account the recession and other factors.”

But not all the other factors, apparently.

The gorgeous hills flowing majestically around the Tri-Cities are, for many people, irretrievably spoiled.

But we’re told to brighten up.

After all, it’s green energy.

Subsidized, of course, by tax dollars from all of us, whether we like them or not.

Thanks, DOE, for such a thorough job.

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