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How Eco-Unfriendly is Wind Energy?

Daniel Sylvia — Hardatters — July 31, 2013

Wind energy is one of the most romanticized forms of existing renewable energy. After all, it is simply energy produced by the wind, which will keep blowing whether we stick turbines in front of it or not. Free energy, right? Well, nothing in life is truly free. Despite the glamorized notions of how great this “free” energy is, someone always has to pay for it somewhere down the line.

According to a March 2013 Gallup poll, Americans are overwhelmingly in favor of the United States placing more emphasis on domestic wind energy production. 71% of Americans are in favor of greater emphasis on wind energy, though there are stark partisan differences. Democrats are the most in favor that more emphasis should be placed on wind energy, while just above half of Republicans and Independents are in favor.

wind-energy-by-politics

Gallup also breaks down the results by region, though the differences aren’t quite as distinct. The highest support is in the Midwest, where three out of four people support more emphasis on wind energy. The East and West come close to the Midwest in terms of support, while the South has the lowest support for placing more emphasis on wind energy.

wind-energy-by-region

In 2009, The U.S. Chamber of Commerce commissioned an economic study entitled Progress Denied: A Study on the Potential Economic Impact of Permitting Challenges Facing Proposed Energy Projects. In this study, they researched 87 wind energy projects which had been completed with substantial delays, were in progress though still facing opposition, or were placed on hold or killed outright. When comparing the Gallup poll results with the Progress Denied study, there was a distinction between which regions ended up with the most wind energy projects completed or in progress at the time of the study and which region ended up with the most wind energy projects on hold or killed outright.

The three regions with the highest support for wind energy development –East, West and Midwest– each had more wind energy projects in progress or completed than projects that had been placed on hold or killed. However, all of these projects were either completed with substantial delays and the accompanying higher costs, or were in progress while still being fought by those opposing their creation. In the South, the region with the least support for wind development, six out of the nine wind energy projects studied had been placed on hold or killed outright.

Who Opposed These Projects, and Why?

The Chamber of Commerce study detailed for each project which types of people or specific groups were opposing the creation of the wind energy facilities. The most common opposition these wind energy proponents faced were from local landowners, business leaders, environmental groups and sometimes even government agencies such as the National Park Service and U.S. Forest Service. The most common reasons cited for this opposition were by environmental groups and government agencies worried about the welfare of birds and animals, business owners worried about how the unsightly wind turbines might negatively affect the area’s picturesque views for tourism, and landowners worried about the noise and lights the turbines emit, and the property value depreciation that comes along with it.

For example, the Maine Audubon Society opposed the Black Nubble Wind Farm “citing threats to rare species, such as the Bicknells thrush, the Canada lynx, and the Golden Eagle.” This project was ultimately killed. Another example is the Cape Wind Offshore Wind Farm in Massachusetts, which was proposed to be built offshore in Nantucket Sound. This project was adamantly opposed by the late Senator Ted Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.     Continue reading, here…..

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2 Comments on “How Eco-Unfriendly is Wind Energy?”

  1. gds44 July 31, 2013 at 4:27 pm #

    Reblogged this on Gds44's Blog.

  2. cornwallwindwatch August 4, 2013 at 12:25 pm #

    Reblogged this on Cornwall Wind Watch.

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