Green energy should not be at expense of wildlife, farm land, quality of life

Posted 16 December 2015 at 12:00 am


Orleans County is noteworthy for its varied habitat and wildlife diversity. The fact that it is an extremely productive agricultural region adds to its suitability for supporting abundant wildlife populations. Our diverse habitat is particularly supportive of a wide variety of birdlife.

Our environment is one of the things that make Orleans County an increasingly attractive place to live. Protecting our environmental assets is vital to maintaining one of the advantages we already have.

Democrats tend to be extremely supportive of renewable energy technologies, including utilizing solar energy and harnessing the wind. We take air quality, global warming, and climate change seriously. In the first Republican debate this year, Marco Rubio actually said Democrats take the position they do on climate change because they “want to destroy the economy!”

The theory and science supporting renewables make sense to most Democrats. Development of renewables is already stimulating economic development and jobs in New York State. An “all of the above” energy strategy with decreasing emphasis on fossil fuels is an existing reality. The oil, gas and coal industries are in constant denial mode, struggling mightily to maintain their privileged position and market share.

The fact that we need more emphasis on renewables does not meanat least to methat wind turbines are a good idea no matter where you put them. Though electricity generated by wind is advantageous, destroying prime farmland, valuable residential space and ideal wildlife habitat in order to lessen reliance on fossil fuels sacrifices things of equal, or greater, value to achieve an otherwise worthwhile goal.

Residences in Orleans County are of course typically adjacent to an overlay of roads. Farmland ordinarily is found behind people’s homes or adjacent to our roads. Woodlots are very often roughly midway between parallel roads (Think County House Road and Route 31A and Routes 98 and 279). With normal setbacks for industrial turbines, erecting turbines and building service roads in much of Orleans County would come at the expense of considerable woodland habitat. Not even avid sportsmen seem to have picked up on this.

In my view (not shared by many in my party), there are innumerable locations in New York State far better suited to wind turbines than Orleans County. Abandoned industrial sites come to mind. The Tug Hill plateau is another. Areas of lower population density are better suited. If 590′ wind turbines were going to be placed in the Atlantic Flyway, locating them offshore would be far preferable environmentally to locating them on the fertile Lake Ontario plain.

In the interests of brevity, I would conclude by saying that it isn’t advisable to embrace wind turbine technology so wholeheartedly that we lose sight of so many other things that have demonstrable value as well.

One of our problems is that too few residents of Orleans County realize how environmentally favored our area is. When they do, they may not be able to envision how much damage locating and building a major industrial wind turbine “farm” here could do.

Sincerely yours,

Gary Kent