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.