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Letter: There are far, far worse things than windmills

The question “Are windmills paragons of environmental beauty or terrible eyesores?” distracts from the real issue. We should grab the bull by the horn and state the problem: “Should we convert to clean renewable energy sources, or let the greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels heat our planet to an inhabitable level?”

However, since the Monitor posed the windmill question, I feel compelled to respond. What is awful is mountaintop removal in Appalachia, blasting the tops off mountains to quickly access the coal layer, burying streams and permanently destroying thousands of acres of natural habitats. What is awful is the mercury and toxic-filled air around coal country, causing excessive cancer victims, and young children gasping for air from asthma.

What is awful is the huge coal pits in Columbia, and worker conditions, all created to provide us with cheap fuel for electricity. What is awful is the run-off from the Fukushima disaster, with continued radiation leaking in to the Pacific ocean.

Europe has become a mecca of windmills, and still we flock to Europe as tourists, enjoying the magnificent beauty. Interestingly, there is no human “wind syndrome” dysfunction in Europe. And to the “bird” objection, note this: In the U.S. in 2009, only about 46,000 avian mortalities were reportedly associated with wind farms, while nuclear plants killed about 458,000 birds, and fossil-fueled power plants almost 24 million.

Wind farms create jobs, too. In fact, it’s a rapidly-growing segment of our economy. In contrast, newer coal-removal techniques, such as mountain top removal, feature large machinery, lots of fossil fuel use, and far fewer jobs. And coal extraction communities have always been linked with poverty, in addition to ill health.

I urge anyone who is anti-wind to do some research on the fundamental fuel source for their electricity. And I mean go beyond the Bow coal plant, to the origin of the coal, the environmental and worker conditions there, and the sustainability of this process. Then look your children, your grandchildren, your nieces and nephews in the eye and say “I’m against wind power.” Anyone with a moral compass, with concern about the future, cannot, in good faith, do so.



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