Editorials

Wind power fans should admit green's not their color

Wind energy promoters and enablers are finally waking up to the possibility that the public knows there may be adverse effects from wind power.

That puts them about 25 years behind the rest of the country, at least that part of the country that does not fall to its knees when the word "green" is attached to a concept, no matter how inaccurately.

Birds might die! That's what the pro-wind farm folks now admit.

The Herald and many other newspapers generally were saying the same thing in the early 1990s.

They make noise! That's what the pro-windmill folks admit.

We wrote about that in the early '90s also, back when there was a great scheme to put a wind farm on Rattlesnake Mountain.

It turned out that at least some of the then-newer wind turbines made little noise, but recent reports from around the country indicate some current installations make quite a bit of racket.

One thing these pro-wind farm people don't seem to have noticed yet -- or don't want to notice -- is that for many people, wind farms are just plain ugly.

With thousands of turbines popping up like porcupine bristles in the Horse Heaven Hills between the Tri-Cities and Walla Walla, or along the once-scenic routes to the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, Washington government is finally waking up to the downside of wind energy.

But for now, state officials are of little help to ordinary citizens. Washington does not require regulatory agencies to consider the effects of these massive wind turbines on nearby property owners or wildlife.

That lack of oversight is absurd, and in almost all certainty wouldn't exist if the magic word "green" wasn't attached to this heavily subsidized industry.

Some environmentalists -- the Audubon Society is a good example -- have taken a thoughtful stand against visual pollution for years. Audubon and others urge that developers pick the sites for wind farms carefully.

The state Department of Ecology requires public hearings on the farms be held near where new sites are proposed, that public officials be notified and the public informed through legal advertising.

Although that is the law, much of the public seems especially unaware of these meetings. And the community's concerns might not carry much force in any case.

The state needs to develop a better method of evaluating the negative impact of new wind farms before any more are licensed.

Calling the wind farms jutting into the skyline around the Tri-Cities "green" denies the idea that there is value in esthetics or that there is no difference between a sagebrush in bloom and a 300-foot twirling air foil.

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