Former Maryland State Senator John Bambacus writes at the Cumberland Times-News
March 31, 2010
To the Editor:
— In the case of the recent devastation and destruction of the Eagle Rock community on Backbone Mountain, the Garrett County Commissioners did what they always do when confronted by citizens who seek their protection from limited liability industrial wind turbine developers: Nothing.
They said there was nothing they could do to protect the safety and well-being of their citizens — the same nothing broken record they’ve been playing for more than eight years.
Garrett County Commissioners Gregg, Glotfelty, and Holliday would not accept any degree of responsibility for the gravity of their acts. Gregg’s response to a question from an affected citizen was dismissive, bureaucratic, and self-exculpatory.
His statement, and the usual and expected silence of Holliday and Glotfelty, was a violation of the public trust the residents of Backbone Mountain placed in them.
Saying there was nothing he could do after years of doing everything in his power to create this situation is sanctimonious and disingenuous nonsense.
Our forests and mountains in many ways define our quality of place — they’re part of who we are. Did the commissioners ensure that clear cutting Eagle Rock would be done in a manner that would do no harm?
Why did the Maryland Department of the Environment shut the project down? Did they visit the destruction as requested by area residents?
Does Constellation Energy have an obligation to inform residents of their plans to wreak havoc on our endangered species, ground water, landscape, property values, recreation and tourism industry, and, indeed, our way of life?
Questions. More questions. And no answers.
Eagle Rock homeowner Melisa Carrico put it best when she said to the commissioners, “I feel as though I’ve lost all faith in government to protect me.” The commissioners have participated in…“an act of destroying my safety, my environment, my property, and my community.”
Rather than hiding under their desks and denying any responsibility for their complicity with the Clipper / Criterion / Florida Power & Light/ Constellation Energy crowd, the Maryland Public Service Commission and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, the commissioners need to step up to the plate, stop their defensiveness and institutional self-protection, and for once explain to the people of Garrett County why our forests and mountain ridges should be placed at risk by massive industrial wind facilities and not to be valued as a legacy for our children and grandchildren as the county’s own Heritage Plan maintains.
Is it not reasonable to ask, “When will the commissioners provide compelling evidence showing how a massive industrial wind presence in Garrett County will do anything other than junk up our electricity supply in the process raising costs for rate and taxpayers?”
Perhaps their silence is evidence that they don’t even know what they don’t know.
While many Garrett Countians oppose the industrialization of our ridges, it seems few are willing to get out of their comfort zones and actually do something to protect the way of life all of us cherish. Yes, astoundingly, many of our citizens seem not to take note or even care.
Even as I write this, after eight long years, it just may be too late. But all should be reminded that the responsibility for this devastation rests squarely with Garrett’s commissioners and their key staff.
Good people should not abandon their neighbors on Backbone Mountain who are fighting to preserve their way of life.
Bambacus is a former state senator representing Garrett and Allegany counties.