Showing posts with label visual pollution. Show all posts
Showing posts with label visual pollution. Show all posts

Sunday, June 11, 2023

Froma Harrop wants more wind turbines in Texas. Why not Providence, Rhode Island?

Texas provides 28 percent of the nation's wind-generated electricity. Most of the state's wind turbines are located in West Texas, where the wind blows almost constantly. Anyone driving across the Texas plains has seen thousands of enormous wind turbines dotting the mesas and buttes. If you go west on Interstate 20 or Highway 287 at night, you will see thousands of lights blinking atop the ceaselessly turning windmills, installed, I suppose, to warn aircraft pilots that they’re flying over a hazardous area.

Some Texans are alarmed by the proliferation of wind turbines on the Great Plains. People who live on the plains are assaulted daily by the visual pollution of giant windmills that litter the horizon. Bills have been introduced in the Texas legislature to regulate the wind energy business and to assess its environmental impact on the Texans who live near wind farms.

Froma Harrop, a newspaper columnist and East Coast liberal, criticized Texas political leaders who want to get better control of the wind energy business. Texas Republicans are opposed to government regulation, she argues, so it is inconsistent for the Republican-dominated Texas legislature to put more regulatory controls on the windmills that pollute the landscape of the High Plains and the Llano Estacado.

Harrop doesn’t live in West Texas. She lives in New York City and Providence, Rhode Island. She’s not bothered by the ugliness of wind turbines that scar the landscape of West Texas. After all, she doesn’t have to look at them.

I have driven across West Texas dozens of times and have seen the giant wind farms that blight the plains. Texas is producing more than a quarter of the nation's wind-generated electricity. Isn’t that enough?

Almost everyone favors renewable energy development, particularly the liberals on the East and West Coasts. They might feel differently if they saw thousands of wind turbines from their living room windows.

Scott Momoday, a Kiowa and winner of the Pulitzer Prize in literature, grew up in southwestern Oklahoma, on the very edge of the Great Plains. He wrote about the landscape of the West from a Native American perspective and believed that this landscape contains many sacred places:
To encounter the sacred [Momoday wrote] is to be alive at the deepest center of human existence. Sacred places are the truest definitions of the earth; they stand for the earth immediately and forever; they are its flags and shields. If you would know the earth for what it really is, learn it through its sacred places. At Devil’s Tower or Canyon de Chelly or the Cahokia Mounds, you touch the pulse of the living planet; you feel its breath upon you. You become one with a spirit that pervades geologic time and space.
Scott Momoday and I grew up on the same landscape of western Oklahoma, a land of majestic views, blue skies, bloodred sunsets, and the Wichita Mountains shimmering improbably on the horizon. I agree with Momoday that this landscape contains many sacred places. Thus, it is a sacrilege to deface it or make it ugly.

As for Froma Harrop, she should live for a couple of years in Snyder, Texas, among the thousands of wind turbines polluting the Great Plains. Let’s see how she likes it, and when she’s completed her sojourn in West Texas, I would like to see her return to Providence, Rhode Island, and find thousands of wind turbines blotting out the seascape.

Texans should not permit more wind turbines in West Texas until a comparable number are placed off the coasts of Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard, and the Hamptons. Let the coastal elites pollute their own visual environment before asking Texans to further desecrate the High Plains.

Sunday, February 6, 2022

Wind turbines have raped West Texas and the Great Plains: I hate the goddamn things

  John Prine wrote a lovely song called Paradise, a tribute to the landscape of his childhood, located "down by the Green River, where Paradise lay."

But that landscape was destroyed by strip mining, as Prine's lyrics attest. "I'm sorry my son, you're too late in asking; Mr. Peabody's coal trains have hauled it away."

Progressive Americans hate coal as they hate all fossil fuels. They lament the damage that was done by strip mining.

Let's stop drilling for oil and gas, they say. Let's stop mining for coal. Let's switch to renewable energy: solar power and wind power.

And the nation is going in that direction, faster than most Americans realize.  Enormous wind turbines are being erected on the Great Plains, turbines so large than an 18-wheeler can only transport one turbine blade at a time.

Year by year, wind power supplies a larger percentage of the nation's energy demands. But you have to drive over the High Plains to grasp the scope of the transformation.

Drive along Highway 84 across the Llano Estacado or motor up Highway 281 in western Oklahoma. Wind turbines by the thousands blight the landscape.

If you live in Boston, you may say that is all to the good. Sure, wind turbines destroy the grandeur of the prairie country, the majestic vistas of West Texas. But who cares?

After all, the nation's truly beautiful scenery only exists on America's East and West Coasts and in blue-state Colorado.  Nobody lives in West Texas, and those who do are elderly white people with non-progressive values who need to be ground down for the greater good.

But I disagree. The vast, lonely panoramas of the trans-Brazos country, the undulating hills of the Oklahoma short grass country are beautiful--as beautiful as the Rockies or the seascapes of California. This country once sustained the Kiowa, the Comanche, and the Cheyenne, who lived off the buffalo that grazed these lands in the millions.

If our national policy is to pollute our natural environment with wind turbines, I say let's share the pain. I will reconcile myself to wind turbines in West Texas when I can see them off the beaches of Nantucket, Martha's Vineyard, and the Hamptons.