Powerful Politicians want to Kill Wind Energy. Why?

By Francis I. Broadhurst

Those who have been touting Massachusetts Military Reservation as the perfect alternative to Nantucket Sound for the first major wind energy park better start questioning who the Alliance the Protect Nantucket Sound really wants to protect. Among their strongest political allies is Republican Senator John Warner of Virginia who tried to sneak an amendment into the defense appropriation bill last year to cripple the Nantucket Wind Park. Mr. Warner seems more interested in doing the bidding of his friends and relatives along the Oyster Harbors-Wianno "gold coast" than protecting the interests of the American people.

Anyone with an ounce of sense must admit that lessening America's dependence on foreign oil and natural gas is far more important than any privileged minority's uninterrupted view of an empty horizon. Yet old Bulls of the Senate like John Warner and our own Senator Ted Kennedy continue to do what they can to destroy prospects of a wind energy project that could open the way for future offshore wind farms to generate electricity without polluting the air and fouling the seas with oil spills.

The Alliance, backed by well-heeled contributors with ties to fossil fuel producers and traditional power generating plants, has maneuvered skillfully to delay approval of the proposed Nantucket Sound Wind Farm. Their game has been and continues to be delay, delay and delay.

As long as money keeps coming in, they will pursue this course of action plotting to make something bad happen to Cape Wind. People calling the shots for the Alliance know how to play the delay game well. They've had a lot of experience killing projects that might produce jobs and wages for middle class workers.

Well, something bad has happened. They dug up another forgettable politician to make mischief. Their new ally is a Republican Senator from Tennessee-former presidential candidate Lamar Alexander whose big contribution to presidential politics was wearing flannel shirts.

What do John Warner, Ted Kennedy and Lamar Alexander have in common? Not much except objections to wind turbines. The former two in the mistaken belief it might devalue family property values; the latter for no apparent reason except, perhaps, to protect the TVA's lock hold on power generation in the Tennessee Valley and to guarantee a captive market for coal from Appalachia which produces 376-million tons annually, half of it from strip mining. Tennessee is a small fry in coal production compared to Virginia, Pennsylvania and Kentucky. But coal revenues are still important. Read coal production statistics of other states and you will understand the big money wind energy is up against.

Coal, oil and natural gas producers and nuclear power utilities have all received billions in taxpayer subsidies over the years. The Warner-Alexander Amendment would deny all subsidies to wind energy development interests. That alone could kill not only the Cape Wind project, but also most viable wind energy sites being considered in these United States.

What about the marvelous scheme to put wind turbines at Otis Air Base? Not if the Warner-Alexander amendment passes. Wind turbines would be banned within 20 miles of all military bases, "highly scenic locations and offshore." That leaves "no place"-- the literal translation of utopia.

Whose fault is it? Utopian Susan Nickerson of the Alliance blames Cape Wind because it is the pre-eminent offshore wind project in America.

The Alliance solution? Let's kill it.

With leadership like this we will always be over a barrel,

Broadcast May 20, 2005

Francis' earlier comments on Cape Wind.

Francis I. Broadhurst lives in Centreville and is a regular contributor to the Cape Cod Times and WCAI-WNAN.