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Wind Power and Environmentalism

Environmentalists have generally been opposing wind farms, such as the Altamont Pass farm east of San Francisco and in Nantucket Sound, and I think they’re making a big mistake. Most of their concerns are for wildlife–raptors and golden eagles in…
October 24, 2005

Environmentalists have generally been opposing wind farms, such as the Altamont Pass farm east of San Francisco and in Nantucket Sound, and I think they’re making a big mistake. Most of their concerns are for wildlife–raptors and golden eagles in California, migrating birds and maring life in Nantucket Sound. As an animal lover and environmentalist myself, I think some effort has to go into siting the wind farms to minimalize animal deaths. But it’s always going to be the case that the passes and ridgelines where birds live and migrate are the same as the places where wind farms are best placed. There’s always going to be some collateral damage (studies at Altamont seem to suggest around 10 raptors per year per turbine); but then there’s a lot of collateral damage from nonwind power generation plants, as well, such as air pollution and climate change. By focusing so heavily on the not-astronomical wildlife losses, environmentalists risk coming across as nothing-is-good-enough whiners. Wind farms aren’t going to provide all our power or solve the energy crisis. But it’s good green power, and while it isn’t perfect, it’s better than what we have now. Opposition without proposing suitable alternatives isn’t helping to solve the problem.

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