Monday, June 30, 2008

Skywalker's Nightmare

A letter from Margo Apostolas that has been submitted to the Hays Daily News:

Do you remember the first Star Wars movies when Luke Skywalker first entered the cultural lexicon? He lived an agricultural existence on a remote planet with his uncle and aunt. Now, do you remember the way you reacted to the giant machines that attacked his peaceful, agrarian landscape? It was shocking and brutal not just because a war ensued and people died but how they arrived so suddenly without any real warning. There were no Jedi warriors in place on the local provincial/county commission looking out for the Skywalker Farm. Nobody sounded an alarm saying, “Your very way of life is about to be threatened! Take shelter and – MAKE PLANS!”

Someday, we will look back on how the commercial wind farm turbines erupted on our landscape and spread throughout western KS and other plains states without any real thought to how to manage something so beyond our knowing. Once it’s gone, it’s gone…MAKE PLANS!

Sunday, June 8, 2008

More Devious Zoning

Submitted to HDN, June 8, 2008

It appears that the Ellis County Planning Commission is going to schedule public input for their new wind energy ordinance (read blank check for wind companies) at their next meeting June 25 – in a room too small to hold the likely number of people attending, and starting an hour later than usual. This is a calculated move to limit their exposure to criticism and counter wind opposition.

We should not be surprised. With a couple of notable exceptions, the ‘movers and shakers’ in this zoning commission are not there to serve the public interest but their own. Their sole purpose in volunteering for the board was to grease the rails for their own scheme to profit from wind turbines, with the complicity of their two cronies on the county commission. They plan to approve a permit application gerrymandered to deny residents their statutory rights to a protest petition. An application that declares, in essence, that the project has no neighbors. They want their money for nothing and their turbines for free. Let everyone else pay the price.

These board members have consisted ignored or dismissed all cautionary information and painstaking research supplied to them by concerned citizens. They have made a complete sham of the public input process. They have admitted their own ignorance of acoustical measurements, but then declined offers from a county commissioner to pay for scientific consultation that would help them draft a noise ordinance. They insist of forging ahead with their ‘non-regulations’ in ignorance. But this is no longer inadvertent ignorance – it is now calculated and willful ignorance.

These people will not take an oath of office, as required by Kansas State statute. They will not publicly declare their conflicts of interest – they or their immediate families have all signed leases with Iberdrola, as have virtually all the outspoken proponents of the project. They will not recommend any regulations that might safeguard rural residents against this massive development. They prefer to trust Krista Gordon and Iberdrola to ‘do right by everyone’. They are unconcerned that a foreign company, beholding to no one, will soon control more land in Ellis County than anyone else – all without purchasing a single acre! They themselves will likely have to ask permission from Iberdrola to hunt on their own land.

If nothing is done, this zoning commission will open the floodgates for rampant, uncontrolled industrialization of this county. No less than four projects (!) are now in the planning stages that will probably span more than 30,000 acres. Do citizens not deserve some prudent oversight and authority over this rampant, unregulated industry? If these people are not stopped, there will be no turning back and their legacy will last for decades, stifling all other forms of social and economic development around Hays. They will turn Ellis County into a sprawling industrial wasteland where no one in their right mind will want to live.

J.P. Michaud
1189 180th Ave.