Thursday, July 26, 2007

Concessions on wind farm not a reasonable expectation

by J.P. Michaud
(submitted to Hays Daily News, July 26)

Public appeals for concessions by opposing sides in the wind farm debate seem futile. I am sure that everyone embroiled in the controversy would love to find comfortable 'middle ground' that would restore peace among neighbors in the project area. But I can't imagine where this middle ground could possibly be found.

You either like the appearance of wind turbines, or you don't. A handful of landowners will either get rich at the expense of their neighbors, or they won't. Many more rural residents who value their peace and quiet in the country will either see their property values plummet and their quality of life destroyed, or they won’t. Hays will either be permanently blighted with an ugly industrial development sprawling over 10,000 acres, or it won't. There is no middle ground, just as there is no apparent limit to the lies and misrepresentations of wind industry developers hungry to harvest our tax dollars in the name of saving the planet.

Proponents can talk all they want about the concessions they are willing to make, the compensation packages they are willing to negotiate, the conditions they would be willing to accept, but it is all too little, too late. These things might have been elements of an open, honest development proposal some 2-3 years ago, but they weren't because it wasn't. Now they amount to nothing more than a desperate strategy of damage control as proponents scramble to try and salvage their investment, an investment that hinged all along on the arrogant assumption they could manipulate county zoning to suit their own ends. At this point, these are not concessions but merely ploys to try and whittle away at the unity of opponents. The only concession with any meaning is required of opponents - the acceptance of a wind farm - a concession that has been soundly rebuked by the majority of affected landholders who have nothing to gain from it and everything to lose.

Why should the opponents, the defenders, be expected to consider concessions from their attackers, simply because they are under attack? A good analogy would be a request to divert water from a public river to fill a private lake. When those losing water downstream protest, the applicant proposes a 'concession' in which the size of his lake is reduced. The real concession is still that required from those losing water downstream - the applicant has only volunteered to reduce the amount of his thievery, rather than forgo the theft. A wind farm of any kind in the proposed location will rob Hays of many other sources of revenue and all manner of future development opportunities, most of which cannot be imagined by the community at present.

The wind farm is either acceptable in its proposed location, or it isn't. You either buy into the propaganda of those parties with financial interests in this aggressive development, or you support the rights of opponents to live in peace and preserve their homes, their families, and their quality of life. Pick a side.

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