Tuesday, August 11, 2009

North Carolina Prefers Strip Mines to Wind Turbines

This week the North Carolina senate voted to ban mountaintop wind turbines by a shocking margin of 42 to 1. From the article:

The bill would amend a 1983 “ridge law” to allow only turbines that are 100 feet or smaller to be placed on ridgelines above 3,000 feet. This effectively bars industrial-sized turbines — which can reach several hundred feet in height — from the windy mountaintops.

The executive director of the North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association stated that the ban didn't reveal that the state was against sustainable energy, but rather was an issue "about do people want to look at wind turbines in the mountains of North Carolina.”

Excuse me? The state the still hasn't been able to pass a ban on mountaintop removal coal mining (despite being the second largest customer of MTR coal in the country) is complaining that wind turbines don't look nice? Do gouged mountaintops, rubble-filled valleys, and coal-dust infused rivers look any better? More likely the coal lobby bought several votes in the senate to forestall installation of the cleanest energy source we've yet come across.

This is one of the most ridiculous things I've ever heard of. I get that tourists come to NC to take in the sights of the beautiful North Carolina mountains and the state might be worried on losing out on those dollars, but a) I tend to think wind turbines look pretty majestic, b) the state might want to look at the dollars it spends on MTR coal before it starts banning wind, and c) I would think fans of the environment would support efforts made to sustain it instead of destroy it.

While it's true that offshore wind is still a viable option in North Carolina that fact does not offset the reality that this bill, if passed in the house and signed by the governor, will eliminate 2/3 of the onshore wind power available to the state. Not only is this a loss of a tremendous source of clean power, but it's also a loss of jobs and money for the state.

How disappointing.