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Sierra Daily

May 09, 2012

Anti-Wind Farm "Subversion"


At present, most Americans would look at the picture of a windfarm in California's Tehachapi Mountains and think "Cool! About time we were getting more power from the wind."

If right-wing anti-wind activists get their way, soon you'll be thinking, "Eeewww! Corporate welfare!" As detailed in a memo obtained by the Checks and Balances and posted by ClimateProgress, the wheels are turning to

Cause subversion  in message of industry so that it effectively becomes so bad no one wants to admit in public they are for it (much like wind has done to coal, by turning green to black and clean to dirty).

In February, John Droz, Jr., a fellow at the super-right-wing American Tradition Institute, and Illinois anti-wind lawyer Rich Porter convened a meeting of wind hatersfrom around the country to plot a nationwide PR campaign. Among the tactics considered was forming an alliance with right-wing outfits like the Competitive Enterprise, Manhattan, and Cato institutes, as well as Heartland, the Koch Brothers-financed "thinktank" that put up the short-lived billboardin Chicago the other day with a picture of the Unabomber and the text "I still believe in global warming. Do you?"

More suggested tactics:

Setup a dummy business that will go into communities considering wind development, proposing to build 400 foot billboards. [The idea, apparently, is to cast wind farms as visual blight.]

Take zoning boards to court to rezone as industrial land to create chilling effect on signing contracts.

The [group's anti-wind] message is also repeated in Wash[ington] Times, WSJ, Fox and other sources.  

To all of which I say: Good luck with that. Wind energy already enjoys vast public support; a March poll by Pew found that an astonishing 78 percent of the public supports increased funding for wind and other forms of alternative energy. It's hard to imagine a campaign as described in this memo making a serious dent in that support. The real game now is before Congress, which needs to pass the Production Tax Credit to provide tax incentives to wind companies, to level the field with heavily subsidized fossil fuels. But if you do hear in coming months an effort to rechristen wind energy as "puff power" (I'm not making this up) you'll know where it comes from.

 Image: Wind Farm at Tehachapi Pass, California by iStock/PatrickPoendl

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PAUL RAUBER is a senior editor at Sierra. He is the author, with Carl Pope, of the happily outdated Strategic Ignorance: Why the Bush Administration Is Recklessly Destroying a Century of Environmental Progress. Otherwise he is a cyclist, cook, and father of two. Follow him on Twitter @paulrauber.


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