“Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring was the impetus for the modern environmental movement dating back to the early 1960s…. It is beyond ironic that some 50 years later, the environmental movement has come full circle in its zeal to support wind energy whose 500 foot tall towers support (occasionally) whirring blades that have done untold harm to avian populations throughout rural America.”
– Sen. Bill Seitz (letter below)
Ohio Senator Bill Seitz defends fairness over favors. More like him are needed at all levels of government. May Ohio Governor John Kasich et al. reconsider energy policy with pointers from the likes of Senator Seitz.
Of sharp mind and with tell-it-like-it-is prose, Sen. Seitz recently weighed in on the offshore wind proposal for Lake Erie, the subject of two recent posts (here and here at MasterResource). The entirety of the communication follows:
Dear Ohio Power Siting Board,
As a non-voting member of the Ohio Power Siting Board, I write to place of record my response to the October 24, 2016 comments of the Ohio Environmental Council (OEC) regarding Rule 4906-04-08 and proposed OAC 4906-4-09.
Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring was the impetus for the modern environmental movement dating back to the early 1960s. She documented the dramatic decline in songbird populations by reason of DDT use in rural areas. It is beyond ironic that some 50 years later, the environmental movement has come full circle in its zeal to support wind energy whose 500 foot tall towers support (occasionally) whirring blades that have done untold harm to avian populations throughout rural America.
Most of the OEC’s October 24 letter is wholly misdirected. Its complaint is with the Ohio statute that was changed in 2014 to require setbacks to be measured from property lines rather than from the nearest habitable residence. There is nothing the OPSB can do about that, and to the extent that OEC is inviting the OPSB to disregard Ohio law, is asking OPSB to defy the duly elected General Assembly of the State of Ohio and to exceed its powers.
More fundamentally, OEC is simply incorrect when it argues that “Ohio’s wind setbacks for residences was already the toughest in the country” prior to the 2014 change and now are even tougher. OEC has adduced no proof whatever that these allegations are true. They are false. Enclosed please find a thorough but somewhat outdated compendium of wind setback requirements around the country and the globe, the slightest perusal of which will disclose that Ohio’s setbacks were and are quite mainstream.
Also enclosed is a new report by the Manhattan Institute detailing over 100 newly enacted or proposed restrictions on wind farms up to and including bans and moratoria, which are surely stricter than mere setbacks. Finally, I enclose articles detailing that Germany’s largest state of Bavaria, and the entire nation of Poland, have now implemented a restriction that no turbine can be placed within 2 kilometers of any residence.
Equally feckless is OEC’s argument that the setbacks have “effectively placed a moratorium on new wind development” or “made it uneconomic to develop them.” This is because there are approximately a dozen wind farms that were certificated before the 2014 setback law changed and those projects are exempt from the 2014 law change as long as they build in conformity with the plans for which they were certificated.
Yet, despite this, there are only two operational wind farms in Ohio. Clearly, the new setback law does not explain why the other previously-certificated wind projects have not moved forward.
Finally, OEC argues that the noise and shadow flicker requirements in the proposed rule should not be measured from the nonparticipating property boundary, but rather, from the nearest home or “sensitive receptor.” As does the Mid-Atlantic Renewable Energy Coalition (MAREC), OEC has implicitly adopted the audaciously unsupportable standard that one’s property rights end at the outer boundary of one’s physical home.
All residents of homes in nonparticipating properties are not bedridden invalids; I dare say that few are. They enjoy their yards, farms, and woods and are entitled to the full use thereof free of excessive noise and shadow flicker. If wind farms cannot be developed without borrowing or stealing their neighbors’ nonresidential property in order to satisfy the setback, health, and safety requirements, then perhaps they should not be developed at all. The nonparticipating landowners, as well as the birds of the air and the animals in the fields, would be quite grateful for that.
William J. Seitz