C’mon Governor Manchin … if you’re too busy to do what you committed, just say so!

Governor Manchin,

When I first addressed the (in my mind) urgent issue of the West Virginia State Historical Preservation Office and mitigation of industrial wind’s assault on historic sites, some of my friends suggested I be patient and positive.  I’ve got to admit, after all these weeks my patience has worn a little thin, but I am positive.  I’m positive I got a trip on your SATSTU RR. (Say Anything To Shut Them Up)

Yes, yes!  I know it was actually Ms. Mary Harrison of your office who made the commitment to look into the matter and get back to me way back in November, but you know how that responsibility stuff rolls uphill.  You also know that when these things sit for a while there’s a risk they begin to smell, and this one is like a 3 1/2 month old dead mudcat.  As these things tend to go, even folks who like you, as we do, start to feel a little bamboozled and begin to question your sincerity.  Makes them wonder about what else you might be missing.

Well, unfortunately this post will be a little long, but that’s also the price you pay for letting things fester – sorta like not yanking a tick out right away.

Let me refresh your memory on this issue.

Back on November 17, 2009, we posted an email sent to your office at this link: “Email to Governor Joe Manchin questioning the decision by the WV Division of Culture and History to allow wind installations to negatively impact historic sites.

Here’s the text of the email:

That’s when Ms. Harrison, of your office sent this reply:

SO GUESS WHAT???  GO ON! TAKE A STAB AT IT!

BINGO!  NO RESPONSE!

Here we are creeping up 3 1/2 months and nothing! nada! zippo!  A few of your constituents took the time to contact you on what seemed an urgent matter; your office responded within three days of receipt, which we took as a sign you thought it urgent as well and what came of it?  Well, staple the stupid sign to my shirt, Governor!  Seems we were shuffled off to that holding tank you place folks in until the issue they’re concerned about evaporates, or in this case, concludes in the very way we thought it would without your intervention.

So, here’s my problem.  It looks to me like you had no plans to deal with what we feel is a state agency operating outside it’s charter, the WVSHPO.  If you were sitting here, what would you think? Our question is why didn’t you just say you weren’t going to do anything?  Why didn’t you say the the WVSHPO was doing a bang-up job mitigating Mineral County historic sites for a few dollars; and allowing Virginia to ignore the visual intrusion of wind turbines on the landscape of Camp Allegheny Battlefield, a shared concern with our friends at Brightside Acres?

Both of these issues, Mineral County historical sites and Camp Allegheny Battlefield, seem now pretty much done deals, with the winners on both – the industrial wind LLCs.  How does that famous phrase go? – “WVSHPO, you’re doing a heck of a job!

Oh, in case you’re wondering, we did follow up with Ms. Harrison once we got word that Virginia was probably going to to the same thing to West Virginia in the Camp Allegheny Battlefield matter that your WVSHPO did to Maryland in the neighboring Pinnacle Knob wind installation mitigation.  Our note to Ms. Harrison expressed the urgency we felt and the engagement we felt should take place to intercede with Virginia, but there was no reply from her.  In our note, we even acknowledged how difficult these issues are for you, with the push you’re all getting from Washington.  We felt though, that you should take the lead to engage the governors of Virginia and Maryland to at least discuss this separation of states issue regarding viewshed.

Unfortunately, as I pointed out in the email, following for your convenience, the settlement at Camp Allegheny had potential to ignore the West Virginia battlefield issue as not theirs to deal with – aka – West Virginia’s problem!  Sounds like the testimony regarding Maryland at the WV PSC hearing, doesn’t it?

Here’s our December 7 email to Ms. Harrison:

So, where are we?  We’ll the Virginia deal at Camp Allegheny seems to be going as we predicted.  You let us down on Mineral County and Camp Allegheny and the whole industrial wind issue in general.  As I mention in the above Scribd email addressed to your Ms. Harrison, “We are frankly concerned that some agencies are unprepared to deal with issues that have the potential to negatively alter our lands and cultures for decades to come.” and “We respectfully request that, as you assess our concerns regarding the West Virginia Division of Culture and History handling of the mitigation matter, you forward our urgent concern to the Governor regarding Camp Allegheny and ask that he consult immediately with Governor KaineWe respectfully request that the Governor also consider suspending all pending construction approvals for industrial wind within West Virginia until such time as a full evaluation of inter- and intra-state protection of historic sites and our ancient lands can be resolved.  As I wrote earlier, it is difficult for the State of West Virginia to request considerations from Virginia when not providing the same courtesy to Maryland.  Citizen groups are cooperating in such fashion and we hope that the Governors in the region will form the same cooperative spirit, under the leadership of Governor Manchin.”

Well, since I’m off the nice bus now, let me clarify what I meant when I said “some agencies are unprepared to deal with issues.”  Relative to industrial wind management in the the State of West Virginia, it appears you’re leading a Dixieland band of legislators and state agencies all playing to different sheet music with the only hope being that they occasionally end on the same note.  I stated in another post that:  The WV PSC decision was, in my view, merely a punch on the free ride ticket to approval wind developers might come to expect from the current political structure in the State of West Virginia.  Perhaps that is why I felt no surprise when the ruling was announced.  So, at least to me, to focus now on the WV PSC would be a waste of energy (no pun intended).  As with all good soldiers, the marching order is determined elsewhere.”

“While this state is not unique in it’s apparent politics over science mentality, one would certainly think it in a unique position to understand what results from the taking of its resources for the gain of outsiders.  The sad history of this state, and in fact the region, is to give away and remain poor.  Steve Earle said it best in his song “Mountain” – “they took everything that she gave now there gone.”  With history repeating itself, many in our current crop of politicians seem to believe somehow, this time will be different.  Perhaps!  But my money is on the huge corporations.  In fact, your money is on the huge corporations in the form of tax subsidies, alternative energy credits and incentives.  My belief is citizens should know how their money is being spent.”

As I wrote to the US Fish and Wildlife, full text of which is included below for your convenience:  “My concern, and my plea to the Committee is that, in making recommendations, they continue to keep in mind the cumulative impact of industrial wind across our lands.    My own state, West Virginia, has established goals for renewable energy, yet my suspicion is that no one in the state legislature has a clear concept of what the goals mean in terms of potential land and air saturation. Unless “land mass and air space consumed” is part of the calculation when establishing renewable energy percentage goals, our migratory flyways may well become so obstructed that species will not be able to navigate the path which they are driven to fly by their ancient instincts.

Text of email to US Fish and Wildlife – Ms. Rachel London:

Finally, as I’ve stated in many posts:  “Folks who choose to oppose industrial wind are called names. NIMBY (not in my back yard) is pretty popular.  We have some locals in the press who prefer to label us as backward thinking obstructionists with no view of the future.  That will certainly send us running for cover.  Our friends at Wind Concerns Ontario provided an excellent post called “How to Spot Propaganda Techniques of the Wind Industry and guess what number one is?  Yep! “NAME CALLING or STEREOTYPING“  Take a look, you might find the playbook somewhat familiar.

What amazes me is that our detractors believe that we would somehow fight against a truly effective, low cost, reliable, emission free, job creating fountain of revenue that does no damage to the surrounding environment, will not harm bats and birds, will not negatively impact property values, have no adverse effect on our health or quality of life all the while weaning us from fossil fuel and the evil empires that hold us hostage to oil and threaten our children, our children’s children and even their kids kids!  And why?  To simply to agitate them?

No, it’s a lot less complicated than that for me.  The contraptions don’t perform , they don’t reduce carbon emissions, they employ few and they cost the taxpayers a fortune.”

We are not lone wolves howling at separate moons.  The growing dissatisfaction with industrial wind’s poor performance, high cost and lack of resolution to emissions and jobs is creating a ground swell of citizen organizations, forming to educate legislators and federal/state/local agencies.  We encourage you to perhaps look to the many sincere folks, with no financial stake in industrial wind, for another point of view.

In voicing my frustration, I was directed to correspondence at Stop Ill Wind.  Mr. Jon Boone, a very knowledgeable environmentalist residing in neighboring Oakland, Maryland which shares our Allegheny Front migratory flyway, posted this July, 2005 reply to your assistant:

These folks are ready, willing and able.  You simply have to show a personal interest in serious discussion and they will accommodate.

We’re hoping that you’ll prove us wrong and you’ve been working under the radar on these issues all along.  From the results, there’s no evidence of that and there’s been little in the press about the WV Division of Culture and History and its offspring the WVSHPO.  The cases continue to march through the WV PSC and the courts.  The USF&W, the Endangered Species Act and other guidelines seem to be lacking clarity in the application of standards in WV and the region.  All the while, your team is encouraging even more development.  We are asking that you take a breath, step back and allow the other side its fair time.  You’ll be amazed at how articulate, informed and dedicated these folks are on the issues.

If we missed anything, we are very pleased to be corrected and will publish any and all that you provide to us.  To this point, I have no record of a reply from Ms. Harrison and my friends at Brightside Acres have had no contact from your office regarding Camp Allegheny issues.  If there has been some miscommunication, please let us know.

We continue to hope that you will seek out the serious opponents to industrial wind in our state and listen to what they have to say.  By doing so, you will begin to understand our frustration with the invasion of the poor performing, high cost industrial wind plants that mar our our ridges.

Thank you for the courtesy of your time,

Mike Morgan

Keyser, WV

Allegheny Treasures Note:  We make every attempt to be accurate.  Should readers find errors, omissions broken links, please contact AT via the comment section.  We encourage respectful commentary from all sides of the argument and will publish all submissions.

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1 Response to C’mon Governor Manchin … if you’re too busy to do what you committed, just say so!

  1. Allegheny Front Alliance says:

    AFA believes the Governor is just as unmotivated as our state elected representatives are. Here is an example:

    On September 24, 2009, the WV PSC commission held two open public meetings on the Pinnacle Project. One meeting was in the afternoon and the other in the evening. Guess who was not in attendance.

    Not in attendance for the Pinnacle Project were:

    1. Delegate Robert A. Schadler
    2. Delegate Allen V. Evans
    3. Senator Dave Sypolt
    4. Senator Bob Williams

    How could we expect any action on the part of the Governor, if our elected officials were not in attendance?

    The Honorable Congressman Allan B. Mollohan was unable to attend because of important voting remained in DC. He did send Ms. Cate Johnson. She drove from Morgantown, attended the evening meeting and reported findings to the Congressman. Thank you for your service.

    AFA appreciated this dedicated and interested leadership. The Congressman is willing to listen and willing to represent West Virginia. This Congressman helped Mineral County Historical Society to secure necessary funding and grants for their worthy project. Project that US Wind Force will mitigate with a memorandum of agreement.

    Indeed, it was Mollohan, and fellow West Virginia Democrat Rep. Nick Rahall, asked the General Accounting Office in 2004 to study wind farms. In September, the GAO concluded that the federal government offers minimal oversight in approving wind power farms, leaving decision-making at the state and local levels. The report also found that those regulators lack expertise in weighing the impact of such developments on birds and bats.

    In 2005, Mollohan compared the situation of wind power in West Virginia to the beginnings of the growth of the coal industry. “With regard to wind energy, the prospects are that West Virginia will be relegated to something of a colonial status,” he said, “with its resources being exploited by and for the benefit of outsiders, and with West Virginians being left with a legacy of environmental damage. Source: http://www.windaction.org/news/1072

    In 2009, it was also Mollohan and Rahall that stepped up to the plate again regarding protection of the Allegheny Battlefield. They are concerned industrial wind projects will destroy these beautiful mountains, destroy cultural and historical landscapes.

    It does not surprise AFA to learn that the Governor has not responded to the Mr. Morgan’s letter. On December 10, when Governor Joe Manchin communication director, Matt Turner, was asked if the governor has a comment on the ruling:

    “Considering everything we’ve been hearing lately, the Governor said it does not surprise him, and it seems we’re seeing more obstacles toward things that seem to make sense,” Turner said.

    “Obviously, this could have tremendous impact on wind power generation and highlights the difficulty in meeting our energy needs and balancing environmental repercussions, a complexity that’s often not understood.”

    Manchin, speaking Tuesday at his annual Energy Summit at Stonewall Resort, said, “We’re looking at everything we can to enhance the development of wind power and siting on mountaintop removal sites.” Source: http://www.windaction.org/news/24558

    Providing no response to Mr. Morgan reinforces AFA decision to remain dedicated to its goal to protect the Allegheny Front’s cultural and natural environments. AFA was formed with this as their mission, and that mission is obviously not complete.

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