Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Environmental Justice is the Issue

Posted by Angie Grant, July 9, 2007

In his effort to promote wind energy at the expense of others, Patrick Parke dismisses objectors as NIMBYs and touts the 'greater good' that will be achieved. Opponents are starting to feel as if we have entered an unending game of 'whack-a-mole' - no matter how many times a false assertion is debunked, it pops up again somewhere else with a different face on it.

"… lower property values, health issues, pollution, danger to wildlife, etc. Moving the wind farm doesn’t change a single one [of these]."

Excuse me? Moving it where people don’t live and ecological diversity is low or already damaged changes every one of them.

"…87 percent of the respondents said the government should immediately encourage alternate energy with subsidies and incentives…"

And as usual, the government puts almost all of these subsidies toward one objective - wind power - because it provides the most immediate profit to the biggest corporations with the most powerful lobbyists, regardless of the fact that wind is the least promising of all alternative energy sources and will never meet more than a tiny fraction of our growing demand.

" If we embrace the oil business, how can we even think about rejecting a wind farm?"

Another blatant fallacy. The fact that the oil business was poorly regulated and caused environmental damage in the area can hardly be used as justification for permitting even more ecological degradation by failing to adequately regulate further industrial development.

"Loss of the potential $600,000 annual “payment in lieu of taxes” effectively raises property taxes for every Ellis County taxpayer."

Garbage. Almost any alternative land use conceivable would generate more than this miserable pittance of a bribe.

"The landowners leasing to CPV have been accused of greed. Can we say the same about those fighting to preserve their property values?"

No, we can't. There is a monumental difference between trying to preserve one's existing investment and attempting to generate a new form of revenue at the expense of your neighbors.

"I believe the NIMBY position will raise everyone’s utility rates."

On the contrary, it is the incorporation of expensive and unreliable wind energy that is certain to raise rates - several years down the road when all the subsidies disappear and ratepayers are forced to pick up the slack.

Finally, the objection to NIMBYism in principle is a direct assault on the constitutional rights of every American citizen to "health, welfare and the pursuit of happiness". Nowhere in the constitution does it state that citizens might be required to sacrifice these rights for any 'greater good'. Furthermore, history shows that NIMBY activism is far more likely to result in responsible ecological stewardship and environmental protection than any form of corporate exploitation.

More relevant than NIMBY is the concept of 'Environmental Justice', which demands the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people in decisions of large environmental consequence and that states "no one group of people should bear a disproportionate share of the negative environmental consequences from industrial, municipal and commercial operations."

The wind energy industry continues to deny that their rape of our countryside has any environmental impact whatsoever, despite plenty of evidence to the contrary. Are we prepared to write them a blank check in Ellis County on the basis of their profit-driven assertions?

Angie Grant

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