In Vermont, attacks are slowing its deployment, with the Governor warning the state's efforts to reduce carbon pollution is harmed. In Massachusetts, the loudest voices in opposition to wind power have come from the Libertarian Koch brothers and local environmental advocates. Indeed, New England remains the eye of the storm for attacks by environmentalists on wind power.
While environmental attacks on wind are particularly virulent in New England, they have been launched in New York, Maryland and other states. For example, over the last 14 years, I have battled similar opposition to many of the 24 operating wind farms in Pennsylvania.
So, are the environmental attacks on wind batty? They are wrong and misguided, even though some points made against wind have merit. Wind does require major construction, clearing of land, and often felling of trees. Wind does change view sheds and wind turbines are not completely silent.
And each wind turbine on average will kill a small number of birds and bats, many less than cats, or buildings, or cars, but more than none.
The environmental opponents of wind have some facts on their side, but their passion causes at times an exaggeration of wind's shortcomings and impacts. No doubt, they are passionately opposed to wind in the name of the environment. Yet, their passion can cause more environmental harm than benefit because of the harsh realities of our often ugly energy choices.
Wind opponents refuse to look at energy tradeoffs that are a difficult fact of life. What happens every time a single wind turbine is stopped that could generate perhaps 5 million kilowatt-hours each year?
Something else takes the place of each turbine delayed or stopped. And it is likely coal or gas generation fills the power vacuum, and that result is a loss for the environment.
Burning coal releases mercury, soot, lead, arsenic, and many other pollutants. It causes also substantial pollution of water. Gas emits no mercury, lead, arsenic, soot, but its environmental footprint is bigger than that of wind.
All energy choices have bigger or lesser impacts. When sources like wind with low impacts are stopped, sources of energy with bigger environmental impacts take its place. The local area where wind was stopped will be preserved, but the regional and global environment harmed. That is the ugly truth.