Wind power or hot air?

At a November forum on wind power at UNCA, a young staffer from a regional activist group puffed that he had dedicated his life to fighting mountaintop-removal coal mining, blustering that he wasn't about to let "these NIMBYs" who oppose industrializing Western North Carolina's ridge tops stand in his way. As a child of coal country, I share his anger over mountaintop-removal mining. But as a renewable-energy advocate with significant wind experience, I find his passion for utility-scale wind power in WNC sorely misplaced — and painfully ironic.

Let's be clear about the term NIMBY ("not in my backyard"): It denotes someone trying to stop moneyed interests from imposing public "collateral damage" while pursuing private profits. Silk-suited spin doctors use it to imply that tough, brave heroes like mountaintop-removal foe Judy Bonds are really just spoiled, selfish airheads. It's a badge of honor, not a slur.

Let's also be clear about the lessons of history. Appalachia has long been treated as a resource colony, her people and places exploited to supply cheap commodities to cities in the flatlands. Frontiersmen came to the mountains pursuing the Jeffersonian ideal of small farms and trades, but the mining and timber barons quickly won the day.

Nowhere did the commoners lose more than in coal country, where petty tyrants perverted the legal systems of several states, virtually enslaving thousands. More than once, when the coal kings and their hired goons were in danger of losing control of their chattel, the full force of the U.S. Army was brandished to reassert their authority. If you're interested in learning more, Harry Caudill's Night Comes to the Cumberlands and Lon Savage's Thunder in the Mountains are good entry points to some American history most schools fail to teach.

Mountaintop-removal mining didn't arise in a vacuum. It's the logical outgrowth of more than a century of "polite folks" rationalizing away their theft of the commons.

In 1983, over well-financed opposition, the N.C. Legislature passed the Mountain Ridge Protection Act, outlawing major construction on the ridge tops.

Deep grass-roots support provided the political cover lawmakers needed to protect the goose that lays WNC's golden eggs. Last summer, N.C. Senate bill 1068 codified a permitting process to encourage industrial wind development. With language that reaffirmed the clear intent of the Mountain Ridge Protection Act, it passed 42-1. The only "no" came from Sen. Steve Goss. His district includes Appalachian State University, which receives federal grants to promote wind power. The other senators represented their constituents well, too, weighing competing environmental benefits (habitat integrity versus one of many possible green-energy options) and competing economic benefits (attracting tourism and retirees versus slightly cheaper electricity).

But even a 42-1 vote apparently wasn't decisive enough for industrial wind's cheerleaders. At the November forum, Rep. Phillip Frye announced his plans for a short-session amendment to compromise the ridges with a "demonstration" project. In fact, thousands of utility-scale windmills have already been installed in the U.S. in recent years: Demonstrations can be found as close as east Tennessee.

Wind enthusiasts always say they favor limiting development to "appropriate" sites. But utility-scale wind turbines are more than 260 feet tall at the hub, with blades that reach 130 feet above that. Compare those numbers with the Statue of Liberty (305 feet) or Asheville's BB&T Building (220 feet). If four-story condos are too intrusive for WNC's ridges, how could industrial wind machines possibly be appropriate here?

Climate change is a serious threat requiring immediate, concerted action. Mountaintop removal is just as serious, and far more imminent. But both of those travesties are rooted in lapses of governance, not lack of technology options. So here's another inconvenient truth: The voice of the people is the best environmental protection we have, especially when the apologists for intrusive industries are calling people NIMBYs. Those who care about the future of the planet would do well to realize that they're unlikely to protect the environment by weakening hard-won environmental protections.

[Born and raised in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Dave Erb teaches engineering at UNCA. For three decades, he has focused his career on energy, emissions and sustainability.]

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70 thoughts on “Wind power or hot air?

  1. Dear Mr. Erb,

    I am an old staffer at the same regional activist group as the young man you described above. I can only wish that there were thousands of young activists like this young man who had the strength of his convictions.

    Some of the view-shed might not be as good, but the world would be a better and more just place to live!

  2. Wiegand

    Facts that will not be reveled by the wind turbine peddlers:

    Facts Found on The Poland Wind Energy Site

    http://www.psew.pl/en/guidelines_for_assessment_of_wind_farms_impact_on_birds

    4. Development of wind projects is likely to cause:

    a. Bird mortality caused by collisions with operating turbines and/or elements

    of auxiliary infrastructure, in particular overhead power lines;

    b. Decrease in population due to loss and fragmentation of habitats caused

    by deterring effect of the wind turbines and/or development of

    communication and energy infrastructure related to operations of the wind

    turbines,

    c. Disturbance to populations, in particular to short- and long – range bird

    migrations (the barrier effect).

    5. Mortality caused by collisions and loss of habitats are key in terms of likely

    adverse effects on birds populations.

    6. The extent of effects on bird population is diversified, depending mainly upon

    the location of the wind turbines – from almost no or negligible effects on life

    expectancy of bird population, to significant effects with significant loss of

    habitats and high mortality caused by collisions.

    7. The type of wind turbines used in a project (tower height, rotor diameter,

    lighting, linear speed of rotor blade tips), number of turbines within the farm,

    layout of the farm (relative to each other and elements of the environment) or

    presence of other wind farms in the vicinity (cumulated effects) also affects

    the type and magnitude of the effects. The last element will grow more

    important as the density of wind farm location increases.

    8. In general, the risk of adverse effects on birds is higher if a wind farm is located

    on an area extensively used by birds. Investments located in such areas, in

    particular areas with high intensity of bird migrations in the airspace, have

    greater potential for adverse effects than projects developed in locations of

    low intensity of birds’ use of the airspace. Conversely, the areas with low

    migration intensity are characterized by lower risk of adverse effects.

  3. Wiegand

    WIND FARM LESSONS FROM EUROPE Europe is years ahead of the U.S. with the proliferation of propeller style wind turbines. We could learn a lot from their mistakes.

    Wind Energy has been causing bird populations all over Europe to plummet for years. These bird declines are well documented. This also includes many of migratory species that travel from Africa. One of the main reasons for these declines is the propeller style wind turbines. After crossing the Mediterranean these birds are met with a gauntlet of wind turbines starting at Tarifa, Spain. Then they must then travel the wind currents of Europe to find them choked with many more thousands of these turbines. Then they must fly the gauntlet again to return home.

    With the rapid expansion of wind farms in America similar declines are now coming. Prop wind turbines kill every bird and bat species where the two are forced to coexist. This is the bare bones truth. The wind industry is putting these death traps up right in the heart of primary habitats and migration corridors all over the world. Today aside from deforestation (habitat destruction), the primary human activity that kills protected bird species across the world is the invasion of propeller style wind turbines into their isolated habitats.

    In So Cal. Condors must now be manipulated with feeding stations to keep them from flying off into the prop wind turbines in the vicinity of Tejon Ranch. They will never fly free in this area until the prop wind turbines are removed. The small Whooping Crane population is declining rapidly and the Red Kite population in Germany and Italy is in dire trouble. These declines are because of the prop wind turbine and this is just the beginning of what is to come.

    Today the wind industry is making billions from this inefficient, noisy, mass killer of protected bird species.

    People need to understand that the Prop Wind Turbine is really a technological dinosaur. What if aircraft development stopped soon after the Wright brothers took flight in 1903? This is the situation we have with today’s wind industry. Today’s wind turbine is not even close to being a mature technology for the harnessing of wind energy.

    The truth about the propeller style wind turbine industry is not being told by main stream media. Why? The reason is that the media, big business and government are all one big incestuous family. For example General Electric, is the largest prop wind turbine maker in the U.S. GE produces roughly half of the new turbines installed in the country. GE also owns NBC. So we obviously wont be hearing this problem on NBC. They will of course be showing self promotional ads and glowing images of wind turbines with actors smiling. Similar connections run throughout this whole industry.

    The gulf oil spill should help open some eyes on the true character of big business and what the titans of industry are doing to this planet. In the last 20 year while America was sleeping corrupt politicians and Wall Street have created limits to their liabilities from doing business. They have done this in nearly every industry. The “no surprises clause” was deliberately written into federal law cover the wind industry against damages for the killing of endangered species with wind turbines.

    The potential to tap much more energy from totally different style turbines is on the horizon but only if we can stop the choke hold big business has on America. Propeller style wind turbines are about money and profits. “Green” is just the packaging used to sell them. It also doesn’t help matters when the US Department of Energy Web site has fraudulent information posted on their Wind Energy Myths Fact Sheet concerning bird mortality.

    The Clarian wind turbine and the Environmental Technologies vertical shaft wind turbine both look very good and they would kill very few birds if any. I was told by the designer Sam Ikeda, that the Environmental Technologies turbine will produce three times the energy as a similar sized prop turbine would. I have also been sent information about a turbine design that will could totally revolutionize the industry. There are other good designs as well.

    Truth is, I could hand the wind industry plans for a non killing wind turbine that would produce 100 times the energy and they would still bury it for years because they would have to stop making billions from the money invested in the prop turbine. This is why people need to get educated and get involved in this. The industry will not stop or change until they are forced to.

  4. I could write a book, but for brevity’s sake in this instance, I won’t. I’ll only address a couple of the author’s more howlingly egregious and elitist assumptions.

    Let me start by saying that I am no “cheerleader” for wind energy or any of the other strawman slanders Mr. Erb utilizes. I’m a hillbilly whose home area has already been toxified by the Mountaintop Removal used to provide his electricity, being as NC is the single largest consumer of MTR coal. He is a predator upon my community. No matter how he tries, he can’t hand-wring about MTR at the same time he attempts (both directly and indirectly) to make sure MTR coal will continue to be used in his state.

    Does Mr. Erb realize that he slanders Judy Bonds in trying to leverage her for his own misguided agenda? Judy, I and many others are actively engaged in the very real plan, advanced as well by the “young staffer” the author smeared, in the struggle to get an industrial wind farm on Coal River Mountain, the same sort of wind farm the author decries for want of I-know-not-what. Perhaps he might want to contact Ms. Bonds before he again takes her name in vain.

    Second, for all the hand-wringing about birds and bats, there’s little concern for humans. Coal-fired energy MUST end, WILL end, but the birds-n-batsers don’t seem to recognize this. For heaven’s sake, the birds-n-batsers even stopped a wind farm from killing INVISIBLE bats in Greenbrier County, West Virginia. There were no bats found, no little pieces of Bat Ceviche at the foot of the turbines, but did facts stop them? Oh, heck no! Their REAL agenda was to “protect” the vacation homes they came to Greenbrier County and built.

    The fact of the matter is, these people who oppose wind energy in the name of some sort of ideological purity are almost as great a threat to our future as the coal thugs who blow up our mountains. NIMBY, the definition of which Mr. Erb gets completely wrong, being as it ACTUALLY defines cry-babies who are happy to have others sacrificed while they live in realtive comfort, and which comprises the vast majority of these astroturfers and people concerned with their precious “ViewScapes” and “ViewScape Pollution” are as actively involved in the destruction of MY home in West Virginia as the high-school drop-out who makes $60K/year blowing up our communities. Have these ViewScape whiners never seen a picture of the windmills in Holland? Last I checked, they’re quite the tourist draw, as are the windfarms of the western U.S.

    As long as Mr. Erb can have MTR coal to power his world in North Carolina, we hillbillies, for all his purported sympathy, remain nothing short of expendable. North Carolina NEEDS windmills so they, Mr. Erb included, can GET OFF MY HILLBILLY BACK!

  5. Judy Bonds

    Mr. Erb, Thanks for your kind comments of me in your article but here in coal country where 3 1/2 million pounds of explosives are used daily to blast our homes and mountains– WE are BEGGING for wind power on our ridges. Since North Carolina is the single biggest user of coal fired electricity, I thought you might want to know that. Please visit http://www.coalriverwind.org. We can take down a wind turbine when better technology is soon available but in the mean time “you can’t put back a mountain forest or a mountain stream”. Coal mining is poisoning communities’ water and air and workers are dying in unsafe mines to provide electricity to your state. My father and grandfather died horrible deaths from black lung. Please note that bird mortality is higher in mountaintop removal areas as the breeding grounds and habitat is destroyed FOREVER by mining. So for now the question is will you all continue to use the blood, sweat and tear soaked coal fired electricity or will you (for a short time) sacrifice your “aesthetics” so that our children can have a livable earth and so that coal extraction communities won’t be counted among the sick, dead and dying for your/our electricity? It seems to me that the over use and production of energy in America will never change as long as the sacrifice zone is hidden in a rural holler in coal country. People need to see that there is no such thing as an “electricity fairy”, they need to see where there electricity comes from. The young staffer from that great regional activist group you speak of is a hero. He was pivotal in getting a new safe school moved from under/near the shadow of a mountaintop removal site and a 2.8 gallon coal waste sludge dam. I hope this helps.

  6. @Wiegand
    You wrote: “Truth is, I could hand the wind industry plans for a non killing wind turbine that would produce 100 times the energy and they would still bury it for years because they would have to stop making billions from the money invested in the prop turbine. This is why people need to get educated and get involved in this. The industry will not stop or change until they are forced to.”

    Then get busy and hand those plans to the Wind Industry. Don’t tell us what you COULD do. Tell us what you HAVE done. Until you do, the only thing you’re doing is speculating and self-congratulating. We’ve already got plenty of that.

    The only thing that will “force the industry” to change is increased profitability. Trying to strangle the industry in its relative infancy is no solution. Under your theory, the human race would never had the wheel until it was a PERFECT wheel.

    The “perfect” is, after all, the enemy of the “good.”

  7. John Droz jr.

    Bob & Judy:

    I’m sure that you are well-intentioned people.

    The simple fact is that no amount of wind energy will appreciably change anything regarding coal use.

    No amount of wind energy will appreciably change anything regarding coal use.

    No amount of wind energy will appreciably change anything regarding coal use.

    See EnergyPresentation.Info for the facts.

  8. AU Engineer

    @Lenny
    Would it not be helpful if your young horse wrangler would tell people that his family owns 2000 acres in WNC? Would that his reason for attacking verbally at forums and in public? This same young horse wrangler has shown up in Virginia, announcing he owned property in one county where he spoke, only to be blasted for out and out lying when the truth was revealed that he was not a resident?

    @Bob and @ Judy
    As an engineer with 25 years experience, wind power does not work. It looks good on paper, but the reality is that it does not produce. You WILL NEVER replace COAL PLANTS with an energy that has a capacity value of 0. When a renewable energy is available that has the same capacity value and capcity factor as a coal plant it will be known!

    Coal plants are not being closed due to wind driven power plants. They never will be. Coal plants can be closed when more natural gas fired plants are built. WHY? It is all about capacity value and capacity factor.

    North Carolina is the 7th largest producer of electricity but only 37th in consuming electricity. That means NC is making power and selling it to other states. Don’t you think the people would ask that their power come from the nuclear plants already in operation? It would not supply all of the power needed, but if people could choose, they would choose to use less coal. We do not get that choice. But to force people to use an energy with no capacity value, that will cost much, much more than what they are currently paying is, well, INSANE.

    The more wind you add, the more CO2 will be produced due to coal and gas plants having to remain powered for when the wind changes. Do you realize how often that happens in a ONE HOUR SPAN? You can not turn these plants off, but instead you make them less efficient, causing more emissions.
    When will you wind proponents wake up and face reality? Wind driven power plants are an extra step, like going from Boone to Asheville by way of Chicago. Pure crazyness.
    North Carolina is blessed to have the greatest resource protection legislation, and that is the 1983 Mountain Ridge Protection Act. It protects the highest ridges from the current insanity of the wind industry!

  9. Jon Boone

    Some may know of the wonderful Appalachian historian, lawyer, and defender of the Appalachian mountains, Harry M. Caudill (1922-1990). In rereading Edward Abbey’s Appalachian Wilderness, with photos by Elliot Porter, I encountered in it Caudill’s epilogue, written in 1970–forty years ago. Let me share some of what he said with you here, since it is still of the moment, and I think captures the essence of what we are dealing with in the struggle against industrial wind, which cannot put a dent in our use of fossil fuels. All things being equal, the more wind volatility, the more coal….

    Here’s the quote from Abbey: “The hill people have a strange relationship to their land. They find the hills haunting and fascinating, but their past is without a viable land ethic or any really deep comprehension of the earth. They have prostituted the land they love. Their relationship to their hills has been much like that of a man who sells his wife into prostitution: adoring her while pocketing her tawdry earnings. For generations they have been people in flight. The onslaught against the earth will leave it so mutilated, so grimly ugly, so contaminated, silted, and defiled that the exodus will quicken.

    Industry has always treated the mountains with extreme contempt….No state will deal effectively with these problems. Governors, judges, and legislators elected with funds supplied by the extraction industries will condone and legalize the spreading destruction …. The congress will ignore the abysmal situation except for occasional increases in welfare appropriations and the building of a few expensive and generally ineffective flood control impoundments.

    … Protests while heard will produce little change. Since the year 1000 the discovery of immense new stores of resources coupled with endless technological innovations have elevated living standards enormously but society is still essentially feudal, still fundamentally composed of barons and serfs. The distinction is one of power. The industrialists — that is the destroyers and polluters — are the barons. They sit in board rooms where the weight of limitless millions focuses. The serfs are the millions of one vote citizens whose taxes subsidize and support the system. They can never reach the ear of a president or governor, and their usual, and usually worthless, way of asserting an opinion or preference is a letter to the editor. As was the case in feudal England, the barons blithely disregard them while acquiring new tax immunities, new special privileges, and new millions.”

    Amen! Although today, it’s hundreds of billions.

  10. Wiegand

    Here is a Quote From The Illustrated History of Wind Energy by Darrel M Dodge. A Blown Opportunity In the seven years between 1974 and 1981, the U.S. Federal Wind Energy Program was an extraordinarily efficient and successful government research and development activity…………………. While the tax credits seemed to some to be an evolutionary development, they actually amounted to a complete redirection of U.S. energies. Planning for this re-direction was left to administration officials who thought that wind turbines were a mature technology that needed no further development. And who believed the over-optimistic claims of investment-hungry wind businesses that cost-effective and reliable designs were already available.

  11. Wiegand

    @ Bob Kincaid Truth is, I could hand the wind industry plans for a non killing wind turbine that would produce 100 times the energy and they would still bury it for years because they would have to stop making billions from the money invested in the prop turbine. Wake up Bob, we have Enron Boys running the show in this imperfect world of ours. They would and have buried other designs. I have not even begun to talk about the false documentation put out by this industry. I have yet to read an honest Wind industry Environmental impact document. This is how bad it really is. Besides the lousy turbines are not the answer and are not going to save anybody. At the end of the day they just bring more destruction.

  12. Piffy!

    Wiegard’s first cut and paste appears to merely repeat the same problem with bird-mortality over and over.

  13. Wiegand

    This corrupt industry should be strangled and a new wind industry should emerge. One with some integrity. We would have different wind turbine designs, more power, more wildlife and lower costs to consumers.

  14. Judy Bonds

    Well, some one had better tell Holland, California and Oklahoma that wind does not work because it is doing a good job producing energy there. Not to mention that we only have about 20 years of coal left in Appalachia – so where will you all get your electricity from then?
    Truth is you are fine with allowing West Virginia – KY and Virginia coal producing communities to be blasted and poisoned and for miners to die so that you just don’t have to look at wind turbines. The technology is there and getting better every day. North Carolina is the single largest user of strip mine coal.. your elitist attitude is killing us and destroying any future that your grandchildren might have. Yes wind is replacing coal. The air that comes out of a wind turbine is as clean as the air that went into it. Maybe you all would prefer a nuke power plant in your neighborhood- if we don’t develop wind and solar then that is what you will be looking at. Coal and gas both are finite.

  15. alexander

    Thank you Mr. Erb for your very rational analysis of commercial wind development in the Appalachian mountains. It’s good to know that all in the academic world haven’t succumbed to the herd mentality or allowed their opinions to be influenced by the money behind big wind. Big money is the ONLY thing that drives the implementation of industrial wind projects.

    I also attended the Nov. wind forum mentioned by Mr. Erb. The (pro-wind) rhetoric of the representatives of Appalachian Voices has been unethical for a while. They work hard to suppress questions and honest debate by resorting to childish name calling – the NIMBY tactic is old and tired.

    The primary reason wind opposition exists is not because of aesthetics – opposition exists because many have taken the time to read independent research that proves industrial wind development fails to deliver what it promises – the environmental and aesthetic damage make commercial wind development even more egregious. Wind development destroys the environment in the name of saving it – but with virtually no energy benefits.

  16. @Wiegand I take it from your response, then, that you’re merely going to continue to make excuses about what you “could do,” but won’t. “Truth is,” by your own admission, you Haven’t.Done.Squat. And won’t, also by your own admission. Your argument is, therefore, hollow and meaningless.

    In the meantime, these other naysayers to wind power, who apparently are utterly willing to ignore the successes already being had in other parts of the country, are more than happy to leach the very souls out of my state and community. What have hillbillies ever done to North Carolinians to make you so disdain us? You’ll pardon me if that makes me think VERY poorly of you all.

    How can you live with yourselves?

    I repeat: GET OFF MY HILLBILLY BACK!

  17. Piffy!

    Until we have real discussion about the efficiency of our energy grid, the amount of power we all use, and the way in which we use that power, all of these large-scale projects are destined to fail.

    Our current energy grid is designed with the big players like Coal in mind, and they are designed to use more power than necessary to increase profits.

    Wind (or solar) is not a reasonable approach for a straight ‘replacement’ of coal-power. We don’t need more “massive-infrastructure” power centers, we need regional power production that encourages people to use energy more responsibly and to have a better understanding of the impact of whatever infrastructure is used, be it wind, solar, hydro, coal, etc etc etc.

    In other words, we need to develop smaller, regional-appropriate ways to produce power for ourselves and our neighbors. We need to realize that having the option of ALWAYS being able to turn on the microwave oven, even at 2 am, might not be worth trading in the health of our local ecosystems.

    We need to dispel the myth that it is all or nothing, and that if we dont choose to continue in the current direction of things, that we must live some kind of “dark ages”. It is possible to enjoy the benefits of the modern world without creating larger and larger environmental disasters along the way. We just need to find the middle path and be willing to do without running our big screen teevees while warming up the hot tub and microwaving some popcorn and running the hair dryer and dishwasher watering the lawn and charging our laptops. It’s okay, we’ll survive.

  18. So, pff, while you continue to dawdle and talk-talk have “real” discussions about what “we” need, and thus do NOTHING, the hillbillies continue to be the judas goats for your insatiable consumption.

    While you’re dispelling myths, pff, we hillbillies are DYING. Not mythically dying, really, Really, REALLY dying. Like in killed. Like in dead, pff.

    So keep looking for that “middle path.” Just try not to trip over the hillbilly corpses you’re creating while you’re doing all that pathfinding.

  19. “Truth is you are fine with allowing West Virginia – KY and Virginia coal producing communities to be blasted and poisoned and for miners to die so that you just don’t have to look at wind turbines”

    Truth is WV, KY & VA must be fine with allowing communities to be blasted, it is not like we are riding across the border and stealing your horses, the above mentioned states have made mountain top removal a permitted use, take it up with your elected officials.

    Some of us do not care what turbines look like, we want them to be effective. Look at a wind power suitability map, it shows small high productive areas in WNC, almost nil in the rest of the state. So if we put wind farms on every eligible ridge we might be able to power 30 Taco Bells, so anyone that thinks that will eliminate the use of coal is using there head as merely a hat rack.

    “Maybe you all would prefer a nuke power plant in your neighborhood”

    These will be a part of the solution without question.

    Pff has some good points above

  20. Judy Bonds

    For SHAME on you JMAC and others like you- it is OK for us WV Hillbillies to be poisoned for your excessive energy use- are we not fellow Americans? Are we not your brothers and sisters. You are to blame as well. Yes take a close look – I am beginning to think that a lot of you that are anti-renewable energy are are pro coal and pro nuke. Yes 31 men dead digging coal for your use and hundreds of thousands of innocent communities are sick, dead and dying from surface mining and you dare tell me that you don’t have a dog in the fight? We are taking it up in federal government because obviously it is an American problem.
    You just don’t want to use your own personal energy to try to make a better future for your children. May God have mercy on your soul.

  21. JMAC,

    “Truth is WV, KY & VA must be fine with allowing communities to be blasted, it is not like we are riding across the border and stealing your horses, the above mentioned states have made mountain top removal a permitted use, take it up with your elected officials”.

    In the most polite way feasible I want to inform you that this statement is quite possibly one of the most uniformed I have ever read. Central Appalachia has been dominated by the coal industry for the last 150 years. The industry’s power has crept into every level of government. From local planning boards, town councils county commissions, state legislatures and the halls of Congress.

    “Taking it up with your elected officials” is not a simple as you make it out to be. Appalachian politicians are among the most powerful, yet they hail from rural, usually impoverished regions of the country. Coal dollars have successfully “placed” these players in government to protect the interests of the coal-barons and they do an amazing job of protecting these corporate citizens.

    Let me paint the picture as to who represents this region of the country.

    WV: Sen. Robert Byrd- longest serving member of Congress in History, President Pro Tempore of the US Senate, former Chair of Senate Appropriations and until recently out loud and proud cheerleader for the coal industry.

    Sen. Jay Rockefeller- Junior Senator from West Virginia who famously lost a bid for Governor in the 70’s running on an anti-strip mining platform. Jay then switched his position and bolstered his support for strip mining and won the election. He has been touting the “benefits” of mountaintop removal ever since.

    Rep. Nick Rahall
    17 term Democrat representing WV’s 3rd district. His district his home to some of the most egregious mountaintop removal mines in the country. Rahall chairs the powerful House Environment and Natural Resources Committee. Currently Rahall is stalling the Clean Water Protection Act, a bill that would end mountaintop removal in the House of Representatives. This bill has an unprecedented 170 bi-partisan co-sponsors, including several coalfield representatives. Rep. Rahall’s district also places near dead last in a Gallup poll that focuses on the “well being” of residents of a particular congressional district. Why, because there is an implicit correlation between poverty and sickness and mountaintop removal. Also implicit with the coal industry are enormous campaign contributions and political backing.

    Rep. Shelly Moore Capito – Coal Cheerleader.

    Rep. Allen Mollohan- Coal Cheerleader.

    Kentucky:

    Senator Mitch McConnell- Minority Leader of the US Senate. Top recipient of coal dollars for 2008 totaling $253,000.

    Senator Jim Bunning- Cheerleader.

    Rep. Hall Rogers- Represents the most strip mined impacted region of the nation, also one of the poorest and home to our nations greatest environmental disasters (i.e. 2000 Martin County Slurry Spill 10X the size of the Exxon Valdez Spill).

    Virginia:

    Rep. Rick Boucher – Represents Counties in SW Virginia ravaged by MTR. You may remember his name as being the House legislator who almost single handedly derailed the Climate Bill because it did not contain enough Federal bucks for his industry pals.

    Get the idea? Coalfield citizens and people from coast to coast are demanding a better future for Appalachia, they are demanding an end to MTR but we are up against the most powerful political entity in the country. In North Carolina our insatiable appetite for “cheap” energy, fuels the destruction and Appalachia. We are complicit in this act, and the only reason we are not subject to these horrors is simply because we have no coal.

    Senate bill 1068 is the most extreme anti-wind legislation in the country. This bill will preclude the development of community, large residential and commercial scale wind energy in Western North Carolina. I agree we need to make smart choices with our energy portfolio. I am not advocating for the blanketing of WNC with wind turbines, I am advocating for NC to do everything possible to transition away from coal. Wind will be an important part of this transition, but I realize it is not the silver bullet. Outlawing a renewable energy technology is a step backwards for WNC and will do nothing to decrease our dependence on coal. I, for one am not prepared to turn my back on our coalfield neighbors and will continue to advocate for responsibly sited wind energy for Western North Carolina.

  22. Parker

    @AU Engineer
    You make a point that coal plants are not being closed due to wind driven power plants. However, we can certainly offset a portion of our coal use, and limit the amount of mountaintop removal coal in particular, through wind power. I am well aware that wind energy will not be used to meet 100% of our energy needs, but it is still an important factor in minimizing NC’s reliance on dirty forms of energy. You also argue that the more wind you add, the more CO2 will be produced since you still need coal and gas plants. This statement is extremely misleading. In a January 2010 report issued by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, three different scenarios were analyzed for expanding wind development in the Eastern US. The study found that in all scenarios, “wind generation displaces carbon-based fuels, directly reducing CO2 emissions. Emissions continue to decline as more wind is added to the supply picture.” You can find a copy of the report here: http://www.nrel.gov/wind/systemsintegration/pdfs/2010/ewits_final_report.pdf

    @JMAC
    Your comment that begins with “WV, KY, & VA must be fine with allowing communities to be blasted…” is borderline sickening. We in NC are extremely lucky that our mountains do not contain coal. If they did, rest assured, our communities would also be blasted. It’s not as simple as NC “chose” not to blow up our mountains. The fact remains that communities like the ones Judy Bonds and Bob Kincaid mention are suffering while we North Carolinians reap the benefits. Economies are devastated, water is poisoned, health is ruined, and the list goes on. They did not choose for their communities to be in that position, and I can assure you that plenty of people ARE taking it up with their elected officials.

    Also, I don’t know anyone that wants to “put wind farms on every eligible ridge”. A study done by Appalachian State showed that by developing a small percentage (less than 5%) of our ridges, we could power 195,000 WNC homes (much more than 30 Taco Bells). Please note that this proposed development excludes a host of key ridges including public lands, parks, areas along the Parkway and AT, historic sites, unique ecological habitats, etc.

    Finally I would like to bring us back to the point of SB 1068 for a minute. The bill would effectively BAN commercial and community scale wind. That means that even as wind turbines become more advanced and more efficient over the years (like they have been doing since the 80s), it will be ILLEGAL to have them in the mountains. I am not by any means advocating for a blanketing of my mountains with turbines, but it is absurd and ridiculous to illegalize an important renewable energy source.

    For anyone that is interested, there was a great opinion piece in the Citizen Times today. Another UNCA professor defends wind development, and backs up her opinion with great sources. http://www.citizen-times.com/article/20100528/OPINION03/305280030/Let-s-look-at-facts-not-hot-air-about-wind-power

  23. Piffy!

    [b]So keep looking for that “middle path.” Just try not to trip over the hillbilly corpses you’re creating while you’re doing all that pathfinding. [/b]

    I’m sorry, does this make sense to anyone?

  24. Piffy!

    [b]So, pff, while you continue to dawdle and talk-talk have “real” discussions about what “we” need, and thus do NOTHING, the hillbillies continue to be the judas goats for your insatiable consumption.

    While you’re dispelling myths, pff, we hillbillies are DYING. Not mythically dying, really, Really, REALLY dying. Like in killed. Like in dead, pff.[/b]

    No, really, I am not familiar with this language. Can someone translate?

  25. “For SHAME on you JMAC and others like you- it is OK for us WV Hillbillies to be poisoned for your excessive energy use- are we not fellow Americans?”

    Are you serious? of course It is not OK to poison anyone. How do you know squat about my energy use? Do I use more than you? Where does your electricity come from?

    I am neither pro coal, nor anti-renewable energy to create that out of my statement is a silly fabrication, I do however see merit in Nuclear Power.

    “Your comment that begins with “WV, KY, & VA must be fine with allowing communities to be blasted…” is borderline sickening.”

    rereading my statement it does sound harsh, I was actually trying to point out the fact that just because someone sees limited use for wind power does not mean that they are OK with devastating Appalachia in the name of views. So basically I took a moronic statement reworded it to try and be snide and it unfortunately it just came across as moronic.

    I think mountain top removal is horrendous and we should completely be moving away from coal. I just think that wind energy is such a minuscule part.

    But I do think windmills look cool, I have always had a fascination with them and would love to see them evolve.

  26. Judy Bonds

    Pff, trying to be elitist? Of course you are and that is making our point for us.

    JMAC- My electricity comes from coal but I do buy green credits But the point is my blood, sweat and tears pays for it as I live where coal is extracted- 10 generations worth of it. My father and grandfather died of black lung for it- what did you contribute? My people and my grandson is sick for producing coal for energy use- but you suggest we take it up with our corrupt elected officials???
    My grand father was paid in fake money – called script- which we could only spend at the company’s store. How dare you. Recently 30 men died instantly in a mine explosion- how dare you- hundreds of thousands- including little children- are dying a slow poison death- how dare you.
    We must move to a renewable energy solution now. We can take wind turbines down when we find a better solution – mountains won’t grow back once strip mined and people can’t be un-poisoned once poisoned. All of us must face the reality of conserving less energy and we must face our horrible gluttonous energy habits. Things are about to change for all Americans.

  27. Wiegand

    For those doing research on wind energy I give this advice……….View every wind related study with suspicion. I have NEVER read an honest Environmental Impact Report from the wind industry and I could point out a number of totally bogus studies published for these conspirators. Plain and simple the industry is built on a foundation of fraud. The other day I heard the President tell the country that the oil industry oil is engaged in a culture of self regulation. This is a nice way of saying they are involved in fraud and collusion. The Wind industry is nothing more than a hybrid or extension of the oil companies. Follow the money.

  28. Rhys Baker

    @pff, as a person who has visited an Mountaintop Removal community Bob’s language makes complete sense. You may have heard of the violence used against Appalachian miners early in this century to bust unions. This oppression has transformed into a more subtle political form of subversion, as Austin’s message illustrated. Organization’s like Friends of Coal in Wise County, Va. put pressure on and subvert the messages of the organizers and former miners who oppose MTR for health, community, and environmental reasons.
    This results in the deaths of ‘hillbilly’s’ for several reasons;
    1) by sidelining the health issue, coal field residents (those opposed and supportive of coal) are continuously exposed to polluted air and water. This causes developmental problems in children and increased cancer and ill-health rates in the general population.
    From the perspective that silence is violence, NC residents carry partial culpability for the continuance of this practice as we say nothing and aren’t doing anything to get off of MTR coal.
    2) This corporate vs. community tension leads to unnecessary tension and violence in coal field communities. Specifically, organizers and former miners working to defend their communities and personal health are receiving constant death threats from miners and corporate shills.
    The personal accounts I heard on my trip to a coal field community really illustrated Corporate Coals opinion of its ‘duties’ to the community and employees.
    ‘Big Wind’s’ practices don’t actively destroy communities and cause health problems. I don’t support any blanket solutions but a cautiously developed clean energy infrastructure would benefit everyone by cleaning up the air and water. Birds migratory patterns can be accounted for. Geothermal energy can provide significant amounts of constant energy. Poop and other waste materials can even make a reliable energy. There are many forms of clean energy that don’t require intrusive mining, (coal, nuclear, and crude *cough*. We’ve got to be tactical and clever but we have to do something

  29. Piffy!

    [b]Pff, trying to be elitist? Of course you are and that is making our point for us.[/b]

    again, can you make try making sense? How is it “elitist” to note that the current way our energy grid is set up actually wastes energy? Do you READ an entire post before responding with a knee-jerk reaction?

    [b]@pff, as a person who has visited an Mountaintop Removal community Bob’s language makes complete sense.[/b]

    In relation to my post that is critical of our current energy grid and the way Americans consume energy, regardless of how it is produced? How so?

  30. Piffy!

    Weigland wrote: “While you’re dispelling myths, pff, we hillbillies are DYING. Not mythically dying, really, Really, REALLY dying. Like in killed. Like in dead, pff.”

    And again, I really don’t see how my post that is critical of the way Americans consume ANY kind of energy has anything to do with this incoherent rant of yours. Can you either clarify or apologize for your misplaced ire?

  31. Piffy!

    I am just FASCINATED at the amount of ignorance and misplaced ire in this thread. Clearly you people have some work to do in not attacking your allies.

  32. alexander

    The promises of alternative energy generated from industrial wind turbines are suspect when examined on the facts. The basis for justification for the entire industry is that electricity generated from wind is environmentally friendly. The public is supposed to accept higher costs from inefficient and unreliable generation just because it is “green”. Touting wind as a free source of energy is dishonest. This old technology from skyscraper size industrial machines is anything but free. The media seldom reports that industrial wind does not produce cost effective reliable electricity Cowardly politicians who dare not oppose the industry ignore indisputable and inescapable facts about wind. Rational reasons against spending public expenditures for subsidizing a technology that has never yet replaced a fossil fuel power plant is overwhelming. If industrial wind factories were a real solution, why don’t entrepreneurs develop their projects the old fashion way, with their own money?
    Government policy that favors and protects the economic failure of wind projects is essential for the deception to continue.

    First Wind Company of New York provides a window on a culture of corruption that is indefensible. Part of First Wind’s financial woes is the failed Cohocton, NY project. The 50-turbine development was estimated to cost of $265,000,000 – but costs have escaladed by tens of millions after three seasons of refitting, repairs and substitutions. No verified proof is available that any electricity generated by this project is going into the grid for sale to consumers. Leaseholder’s agreements have a minimum payment amount with an extra small percentage for production. The fact that Cohocton leaseholders have not received any funds on generated electricity is proof that the project is a failure. First Wind received in the fall of 2009, $74.6 million in federal stimulus grants through the Department of Energy. These funds had no restriction for use and no accounting disclosure followed. Former U.S. Rep. Eric J. Massa (D-N.Y.) wrote to President Barack Obama, calling the grants “very alarming” and saying the company “abused the public trust”. Massa noted, “First Wind is under investigation by the New York Attorney General’s office for alleged corruption. First Wind CEO Paul Gaynor, a former Enron executive, responded in a letter to Obama, saying that First Wind’s New York wind farms have produced 133,370-megawatt hours of clean, renewable energy, – he provided no proof of his claim.

    The tragic destruction of pastoral communities from insane government policy would fill volumes of books. Most people will never show concern for rural areas or even the corrupt business practices of crooked wind developers. First Wind is just one example of the unholy alliance and revolving door of crony capitalism that is driving up the costs of electricity beneath the lies of “Greening America” and job promotion. Wind technology is an expensive failure. The public is asleep. Their righteous outrage is long overdue.

  33. @pff, as long as you’re engaged in navel-gazing and talking about what won’t work while my home and community are being actively assaulted in the name of the energy YOU consume (to-wit MTR coal) you’re no ally of ours. You are, in fact, part of the problem and will continue to be until North Carolina can stand on its own feet, generate its own energy and quit relying on the ruination of Appalachian communities to satisfy your electrical lust.

    P.S. pff, you’ll always win friends with “you people.” We hillbillies just LOVE being called “you people.”

    @alexander your reference to “the tragic destruction of pastoral communities” by “crooked wind developers” makes you a laughingstock. Obviously, you’ve never seen a MountainTop Removal site. THERE’S your “destruction of pastoral communities.” Of course, I understand you’d have to actually care about the hillbillies whose lives and communities are ruined in order for you to comprehend how silly you appear to folks who deal with REAL destruction, so none of us will stand around waiting for the light to go on for you.

  34. “JMAC- My electricity comes from coal but I do buy green credits”

    that means absolutely nothing, how do you know that I do not pay the same self imposed tax.

    But the point is my blood, sweat and tears pays for it as I live where coal is extracted- 10 generations worth of it. My father and grandfather died of black lung for it- what did you contribute? My people and my grandson is sick for producing coal for energy use

    That completely sux, I am sorry for your families pain.

    – but you suggest we take it up with our corrupt elected officials???
    It makes more sense than blaming me for having an opinion about wind power.

    “My grand father was paid in fake money – called script- which we could only spend at the company’s store. How dare you.

    I nor my relatives owned the store or invented script. How dare me?

    “Recently 30 men died instantly in a mine explosion- how dare you”

    Of course you do realize that I did not create this explosion.

    “hundreds of thousands- including little children- are dying a slow poison death- how dare you.”

    Because I do not like wind power I created this also.

    b

  35. Piffy!

    [b]So keep looking for that “middle path.” Just try not to trip over the hillbilly corpses you’re creating while you’re doing all that pathfinding. [/b]

    Still wondering if you can defend this odd position, Bob.

    The fact remains that wind power is not a realistic alternative to Big Coal. Until Americans learn to consume FAR less, we will ALL be permanently tied to these industries. Merely switching HOW the power is produced is not a real solution, and is not feasible whatsoever. Americans will continue to consume Coal Energy, and very soon may be forced to accept new nuclear unless we REJECT the myth of constant, abundant energy.

  36. @pff Still wondering if you really ARE so totally clueless and utterly slow that you cannot tell when you are being made the subject of satire. No wonder you need all that MTR coal! You’re so dim you’re completely in the dark.

    While you sit in your echo chamber where you all talk about how “bad” wind energy is, your voracious coal consumption in North Carolina costs Appalachian people in communities like mine their very lives and well-being. Still, you prattle on about “middle paths” and “crooked wind developers” while YOUR consumption destroys our mountains in WV.

    You have no credibility at all. Frankly, you make the coal thugs look honest. At least they don’t pretend to be environmentalists while they bring death and destruction to Appalachian communities.

  37. Judy Bonds

    Clearly – people who continues to advocate for the blasting and poisoning of other people for their not wanting to look at a wind turbine is not an ally or a good person. Aiding and abeting.
    Energy conservation must be part of the mix but we are smart enough to know that you anti-clean energy folk and pro coal folk would love for us to move off the subject of Environmental Justice and Social Justice.– JMAC
    Yes – you are part of the problem- and yes you share the blame for all I described to you! You reap the rewards without sharing the responsibility or the impacts. Worse – you won’t even admit to the impacts. Shame

  38. pff are you crazy?

    reduced energy consumption? more efficient energy distribution? how dare you stand on those outlandish platforms!

    “your voracious coal consumption in North Carolina costs Appalachian people in communities like mine their very lives and well-being.”

    yeah pff what is wrong with you? don’t you understand that when evil NC installs all those windmills, which will produce enough power for 195,000 homes (no really a college study speculated it) then West Virginia will no longer have to sell it’s coal to NC. And if the tyrants in NC do not want the coal, nobody will, not even the Chinese. Without the coal associated jobs, Appalachians (not those asshole NC Appalachians) will be able to enjoy more leisure time and the lack of money will allow a more simplistic and minimal lifestyle (I think you elitist call it being poor)

  39. “Clearly – people who continues to advocate for the blasting and poisoning of other people for their not wanting to look at a wind turbine is not an ally or a good person.”

    Not a single comment on this thread has advocated blasting and poisoning, not one, none, nil, no matter how many times you say it. Not wanting to look at a wind turbine has never been my reason as I have “clearly” stated.

    Shame on you for vilifying anyone who does not agree with your view. Your twisting of people’s words to reinforce your agenda is lame and weakens your worthy goal of ending coal related atrocities.

    “you anti-clean energy folk”
    Wow, I have never met an anti-clean energy person, they must hang out with those pro-pollution advocates.

    “Worse – you won’t even admit to the impacts. Shame”

    are you actually reading the thread?

  40. @JMAC There are none so blind as those who will not see. What you do not see is that by attempting to impede development of wind energy recources in North Carolina, you intentionally and willfully make certain that the destruction of Appalachian communities will at least continue apace or, more horrifyingly, ramp up, and both unabated.

    In this ceaseless drumbeat you and others have mounted against North Carolina taking responsibility for its own energy needs, you have most certainly established yourself as opposing clean, green energy, no matter your precious protests. You do not have to directly advocate for further destructive coal practices. Your resisitance to utilizing North Carolina’s wind potential proves you are happy to let Appalachia burn while you wait, and wait, and wait for some magic solution that will help North Carolina FINALLY take responsibility for its own consumption.

    At present, all the anti-wind arguments confirm one thing for me: some segment of North Carolinians is unwilling to stand on its own hind legs and deal with the problems its corporate utilities have been a century in creating. You don’t want industrial wind. Not only that, you don’t want community wind.

    I think I’ve figured it out: you want Magic Unicorn Sparkle Energy. There’s only one problem: it doesn’t exist.

    So why don’t you grow up and start dealing with the present realities?

    And JMAC? When you’ve fought as hard as Judy Bonds, you’ll EARN the right to call shame. Till then, little person, you’re best following the advice of the sages: “better to be silent and thought a fool than to open your mouth and PROVE it.”

    Frankly, I’m beginning to think you and pff are in the pay of the coal burners, just like the anti-wind astroturfers up here in WV.

  41. Piffy!

    [b]@pff Still wondering if you really ARE so totally clueless and utterly slow that you cannot tell when you are being made the subject of satire. No wonder you need all that MTR coal! You’re so dim you’re completely in the dark.[/b]

    While you sit in your echo chamber where you all talk about how “bad” wind energy is, your voracious coal consumption in North Carolina costs Appalachian people in communities like mine their very lives and well-being. Still, you prattle on about “middle paths” and “crooked wind developers” while YOUR consumption destroys our mountains in WV. [/b]

    Wow. You are insane. i never said wind energy was good or bad. Not even close. i merely pointed out that any discussion about HOW power is produced is pointless until we address how it is CONSUMED and the efficiency of the grid that transports it. your bizarre, emotional rant clearly is not based on what I brought up, but on your own predetermined conclusions. that’s too bad for you, and to bad for any educated discussion.

    [b]You have no credibility at all. Frankly, you make the coal thugs look honest. At least they don’t pretend to be environmentalists while they bring death and destruction to Appalachian communities. [/b]

    Seriously? By pointing out that our entire energy grid is rigged to WASTER energy I am killing your neighbors!? Fascinating theory. Try reading before you post. You’ll save yourself from looking silly and save a potentially fruitful conversation from being hijacked by utter stupidity.

  42. Piffy!

    let me try those edits again:

    [b]@pff Still wondering if you really ARE so totally clueless and utterly slow that you cannot tell when you are being made the subject of satire. No wonder you need all that MTR coal! You’re so dim you’re completely in the dark.

    While you sit in your echo chamber where you all talk about how “bad” wind energy is, your voracious coal consumption in North Carolina costs Appalachian people in communities like mine their very lives and well-being. Still, you prattle on about “middle paths” and “crooked wind developers” while YOUR consumption destroys our mountains in WV.[/b]

    Wow. You are insane. i never said wind energy was good or bad. Not even close. i merely pointed out that any discussion about HOW power is produced is pointless until we address how it is CONSUMED and the efficiency of the grid that transports it. your bizarre, emotional rant clearly is not based on what I brought up, but on your own predetermined conclusions. that’s too bad for you, and to bad for any educated discussion.

    As for an echo-chamber, i think you might not know what that means. For one, it would require at least one person here saying something similar, which hasnt happened. I mean i get that you think the world is against you, but that doesnt make it true.

    [b]You have no credibility at all. Frankly, you make the coal thugs look honest. At least they don’t pretend to be environmentalists while they bring death and destruction to Appalachian communities.[/b]

    Seriously? By pointing out that our entire energy grid is rigged to WASTER energy I am killing your neighbors!? Fascinating theory. Try reading before you post. You’ll save yourself from looking silly and save a potentially fruitful conversation from being hijacked by utter stupidity.

  43. Piffy!

    Who are these people? They clearly have NO IDEA what the hell they are talking about. They keep coming back and arguing against things no one has said.

    Bizarre.

  44. Wiegand

    alexander- Excellent well thought out comment. For those that disagree with me of this person, so be it. Our comments are for the many that do not waste space on these blogs. It is for good reason that there is an international uprising against this incredibly corrupt industry.

  45. “@JMAC There are none so blind as those who will not see.”

    How did you write that without reading it?

    “Till then, little person, you’re best following the advice of the sages: “better to be silent and thought a fool than to open your mouth and PROVE it.”
    How did you write that without reading it?

    Frankly, I’m beginning to think you and pff are in the pay of the coal burners, just like the anti-wind astroturfers up here in WV.

    well sure, that assumption is just as valid as the rest of your statements. How in the world do you know that I am not a shill for the Solar or Geo-Thermal industries? you do not, but hey maybe if I give you enough rope you will figure out what to do with it.

  46. @JMAC Rhetorical queries do not cogent argument make.

    While you have made precious insults, you have yet to provide a counter to my assertions. I suspect that’s because you’ve no argument to make. You are a profligate who would wait for some perfect solution while others have their homes destroyed for your profligacy.

    So do keep asking silly rhetorical questions and marking yourself the like of Balaam’s boon companion. In short, continue along the fool’s road you travel with such manifest ease.

  47. Wind farm regulation is just another way that NIMBY zoning backfires on the environment as well as the economy. Another is zoning induced longer commuting distances. PROPERTY RIGHTS FOR THE ENVIRONMENT! NOW!

  48. Piffy!

    Oh, JMAC, without reading your post I’d say you are clearly an evil hillbilly murderer who dines with Dick Cheney on raw hillbilly babies.

    Now, is ANYONE interested in talking about the REALITY of energy production in the US?

  49. “Now, is ANYONE interested in talking about the REALITY of energy production in the US? ”

    Yes I would

    In my opinion pff was heading in the correct direction, instead of these behemoth wind, solar or coal plants I favor compartmentalized solutions. First and foremost homes and businesses need to be sealed and made more efficient, with this method surely we can reduce consumption by 10%. As many roofs as possible should house some amount of solar harnessing, I am not trying to totally power a home with solar but if we could achieve even 10-20% of the homes power use I would call that a success. Water harvesting or rainwater catchment is another component (the benefits in energy consumption is difficult to measure, but every time that someone flushes there toilet (a large use of domestic water) with rainwater instead of treated water there has to be an energy savings. Geo-thermal is an excellent source for heating and cooling our homes and businesses, in many cases this would probably be best handled in shared systems for cost savings.

    Wind power? sure on an individual level to pump water and augment individual homes, but I think the idea of wind farms in WNC (with limited high quality sites) is a little dreamland.

    Of course with all of this we will still need additional power sources. Natural gas sure, Nuclear yes.

    Coal, well unfortunately it will remain a component for the foreseeable future. It is imperative that we stop Mountain Top Removal for coal harvesting, for one thing it is a horrid environmental practice and it also provides very little in the way of jobs (although it may generate a healthy tax base). Prior to MTR large number of people were used to harvest veins of coal with less visual impacts. If the coal is that valuable then surely the technology can be purchased to ensure the health of workers and minimize environmental impacts. If we as a country move away from coal, I have little doubt that the coal will still be harvested and sent to developing nations. So it is a must that we develop methods of extraction that are minimal in impacts.

    Bob my silly Rhetorical questions are merely responses to your silly argument. I know you are passionate about saving the coal towns of Appalachia and that is admirable, but your debate skills are equal to that of a 5 year old and hurt your ability to actually make a difference.

  50. judy bonds

    WOW- this is not about debate skills this is about justice and the truth. If a 5 year old or an 8th grade student tells the truth- but not in your acceptable debate style – does that make it any less the truth?
    My, my but elitism is live and well here in this circle. There is no place for elitism in trying to preserve the human species and even making a better place for our children. Your elite attitude is hurting y our ability to actually make a difference- it’s showing.
    Your acceptance of Nuclear is very telling. So – can we store the Nuclear waste in your basement?

  51. Contraception saves many times more energy per tax dollar spent than any method of alternative energy or conservation program.

  52. Piffy!

    I\d love to continue the conversation, JMAC, because you make some great points that are quite relevant to the discussion, but i have been stuck int he ‘moderated bin’ for some unknown reason…

  53. “WOW- this is not about debate skills this is about justice and the truth.”

    Actually I thought this was about debate, I missed the memo where it turned into Bob & Judy’s Fantasy land soapbox. Ironically you have twisted my words to suit your agenda, so I do not expect you to understand the concept of truth. Lies even told with the best intentions are still lies.

    “Your acceptance of Nuclear is very telling”
    yes it shows that I am willing to put all options on the table, and also that I know the difference between a nuclear power plant and a nuclear bomb.

    “So – can we store the Nuclear waste in your basement?

    My house is pretty small and my neighbors may have some issues with that, but if you can get the permits and can afford to compensate me then we can talk.

    Elitism?
    “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” – Inigo Montoya

  54. Judy Bonds

    Ahh- The problem is that it is a debate to you but to us it is life and death to Bob and I and countless others that are your sacrifice for your energy.
    Judy and Bob have every right to force you out of your elite comfort zone because your energy comes from our blood sweat and tears.
    JMAC is the one that has no concept of truth, and can ‘t face it and does not want to hear that wind is far less intrusive and harmful. JMAC would rather Bob and I go away so he can debate energy as Appalachians in coal country are sick dead and dying for his energy needs and he does not want to lift a finger to make change. That is the truth that you are afraid that others are reading here and they are.

  55. alexander

    JMAC – a reasonable response from a reasonable person – thank you. I believe you are on target – we need to begin to move away from the old model of remote centralized power – which includes industrial wind projects. Energy needs to be generated as close to the point of use as possible. Homes and businesses need to be more reliant on energy that is produced on site – this would include solar roofs/panels, geothermal and small wind systems – NOT massive, sprawling commercial wind projects along migratory pathways on ridge tops which will never supply reliable energy on a mass scale.

    It’s revealing that wind advocates never mention the words conservation and efficiency. It’s much cheaper to save energy than it is to produce energy. A study done by a U.K. conservation group has stated that if the money used to subsidize one industrial wind turbine was used instead to insulate roofs of 500 hundred houses, it would save in 2 years the amount of energy that one wind turbine might produce over its lifetime.

  56. Judy Bonds

    Alexander is wrong- I and other clean energy advocates often mention conservation and efficiency- both are a must.

    I agree that individuals needs to produce their own power rather than centralized stations but that is a long way off and we need to reduce CO2 now and stop the mercury from poisoning our children.
    We need to stop our reliance on coal now — because of many reasons. Until Americans see that coal is not the way then no one will change their energy habits- so lets start with regional energy production. Produce your own energy needs in your own region first. Maybe a small scale wind farm or solar farm. So when do you all think that you can get of my blood sweat and tear stained coal fired electricity. We are trying to get our own wind farm here in our region for our energy needs. Again we are back to “you just don’t want to look at the wind turbines” and so it is easier to let the coal industry blast and poison some children in WV or Ky- you don’t have to look at that do you?

  57. “JMAC is the one that has no concept of truth, and can ‘t face it and does not want to hear that wind is far less intrusive and harmful.”

    Wind is less intrusive than solar,geo-thermal or energy efficiency? I do not think so, while wind may be less intrusive than coal, it is still a very limited source of power and that is my stance, no matter how you spin it. Why do you insist on chasing the dream of wind energy, without considering that other sources may actually achieve your goal of saving the coal producing areas of Appalachia? At least I think that is your goal, your goal could also be perceived as trying to vilify all Americans that do not live in coal country.

    “JMAC would rather Bob and I go away so he can debate energy as Appalachians in coal country are sick dead and dying for his energy needs and he does not want to lift a finger to make change.”

    No, I would rather you stick around and contribute to a meaningful discussion, instead of continuously posting emotional statements with little grounding in reality.

    “That is the truth that you are afraid that others are reading here and they are”

    I am not afraid of anything I have written, I am more concerned with what people are not reading or at least not comprehending.

    Alexander thank you for reading and comprehending my post. If you could link to the UK study I think that would benefit this discussion. Conservation is the best first step.

  58. evenkeel

    It’s estimated that housecats kill roughly 300 million songbirds annually in North America. Yes that’s right, housecats. Surely, the longterm dimunition of acid rain chemical run-off, etc. from clean energy (which is much harder to actually apply a quantitative figure) is surely better for the environment and birds included. To the ones (say 1000 or so annually) dumb enough to fly into the turbine, it’s Darwinian and it’s going to have ZERO impact at the species level.

    As far as aesthetics go…we look at power lines everyday. We look at stop lights every day, yard signs, etc. I’ve been to West Texas, the North Sea, central Europe, California, and wind turbines seem far less visually offensive than many of other of our constructs.

    These anti-wind, nimby articles are absolutely preposterous and have very little scientific weight.

  59. Wiegand

    Propaganda worked wonders for Hitler and it is also a heavily used weapon in the arsenal of the wind industry. It is time for people to stop believing the lies from this disgraceful industry. Millions of Birds are killed by propeller style wind turbines each year. House cats, cars, buildings, and most any other human related activities are not a factor in the survival of many rare species bird because of the isolation of their habitats. Aside from deforestation, the primary human activity that kills protected bird species across the world is the invasion of propeller style wind turbines into their isolated habitats. We could all live in tents and ride bikes and these turbines would still slaughter off these protected species and their numbers would decline. House cats, cars, buildings and windows are not killing off the whooping Cranes. Last year the flock, lost 23 of its 270 members. Officially this decline is attributed to the South Texas drought that affected the birds’ food and water sources. Some of us know better, these birds can fly and find plenty of food sources. After increasing for decades in numbers, their numbers have been steadily declining since the turbines have been introduced into their habitat. House cats, cars, buildings and windows aren’t killing Bald Eagles, and thousands of Golden Eagles, but these turbines sure kill them. If this industry has it’s way, the decline of protected birds species across the U.S. is going to get a whole lot worse. Just as President Obama said of the oil companies last week, the wind industry is also a corrupt self regulating industry. This actually an energy industry which is nothing more than a hybrid of the oil companies. Wind turbines are lethal because of their 220 mph blade tip speed and are known to kill every species of bird that is forced to share their habitat them. Putting these killers in the critical habitats of rare and endangered species is similar to putting a school crosswalk on a NASCAR racetrack. The outcome is obvious. The saddest part of all is that there are much better turbine designs available that do not kill. It is for these very reasons that there is a growing world wide uprising against this industry. Stay tuned because this is all just getting started.

  60. Kudos evenkeel and well written. Yes they are nothing but NIMBYs and have nothing to do with environmentalists. Listening to NIMBYs like Erb would harm the environment immensely.

  61. Judy Bonds

    NO Wiegand- you stay tuned because people are demanding an end to Fossil Fuels—Now even Obama is agreeing.
    I agree there are better turbine designs but most of the uprising is coming from NIMBY’s and pro coal people- that is what we discovered in Cape Cod- most resistors was pro coal.

  62. Wiegand

    Trust me, I will stay on it like gravy on rice and one day hope to present testimony about this whole scam before a congressional committee. Right now profits, greed and ignorance are driving this industry. This has to change.

  63. alexander

    Evenkeel -“It’s estimated that housecats kill roughly 300 million songbirds annually in North America. To the ones (say 1000 or so annually) dumb enough to fly into the turbine, it’s Darwinian…”

    Using that logic you must be okay with the BP oil catastrophe – after all, sharks kill millions of fish -as for the those fish dumb enough to swim through that oil, its Darwinian…

  64. Piffy!

    JMAC- It’s pointless. They’re notably not capable of rational debate.

  65. Wiegand

    In reference to the millions of bird and bat fatalities from wind turbines, I have heard the argument about natural selection and the birds being dumb many times. This same argument will probably be told by BP lawyers as an explanation for why the Brown Pelicans are covered with oil in the gulf. They were just too dumb and they should have known. In actuality it is really the people that are too dumb and should have known better.

  66. judy bonds

    PFF- this is not a debate to us- it is our lives and we are being poisoned with the aide of people like you. I got some real nice coal waste sludge water you all can drink and bathe in. Since you like coal so much move on down here.

    Lets see- birds or human beings- wow- save the baby humans.

  67. Wiegand

    NC citizens need to do the right thing for their future. In the scheme of things, the turbines proposed for the NC ridge lines are going to have very little impact because they will only produce a minuscule amount of the power that is really needed. Just as there no future in the coal industry consuming mountains there is no future in the deadly and inefficient propeller style wind turbines. Society needs to move past these dinosaurs and on to the next generation of wind turbines. If NC invests in the things your ridge lines will be cluttered with these killers for 25 years and you will be missing out on the next generation of turbines designs. You need to come to the realization that the peddlers of these wind turbines are cut from the same mold as the CEO’s of the coal and oil companies. Most CEO’S running corporations today have very little interest in the environmental impacts of their doing business. Their interest is money. This has never been more evident than with the behavior shown by BP executives in the last 60 days. The lack of concern shown for their destruction exhibits a conscience that borders on the psychopathic. NC needs to research the Spanish wind energy company pushing these turbines about their track record for killing rare and endangered species in Spain. Especially the birds that migrate to and from Africa. I also suggest everyone interested in this issue you look up the “Save the Eagles” web site. It is an organization based in Europe. It was started by a man named Mark Duchamp. I suggest that you contact him. He used to manage a Spanish Wind farm and picked up the mangled bodies from the prop turbines. Because of his experience he is going to bare witness and fight against these things till the day he dies. Europe is years ahead (or further down the wrong path) than the US with the proliferation of propeller style wind turbines. NC does need to repeat the mistakes made in Spain or reward this company with obscene profits. You need to come to the realization that the peddlers of these wind turbines are cut from the same mold as the CEO’s of the coal and oil companies. NC may not now realize it, but my advise is a gift that you will one day thank me for.

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