Hot Air On Wind Farm Dispute
Really?! Of course! Wind farms kill birds; therefore they are bad. Enviros like the Center for Biological Diversity (a lawsuit mill, not a biology group) have fought and sued for new regs that would force changes on the wind farm industry.
Fine. That's their right. But, oh!, how they protest when industry tries to get it its two bits. And when environmentalists whine, the LATimes is always there to listen ... especially if a prominent reformer of environmental over-regulation is involved. Congressman Richard Pombo, a leader of the Endangered Species Act Reform movement, is the son of wind farmers. His staff met with US Fish & Wildlife Service wind farming regulators, as they meet with them on many species regulatoins.
The LAT is incensed, even though there are no ethics requirements relating to a member's parents' business interests.
It all boils down to what it always all boils down to: Enviros are the only ones talking to the Service about regulations, and when their special interest exclusivity is challenged, they hate it. Quoting the LAT:
Matthew Huggler, the Fish and Wildlife Service's legislative liaison, described the meeting [with Pombo's staff] as "fairly intense." The main focus of the committee staff "was on industry concerns, specifically that the industry has not had adequate input into the state Energy Commission report or the service's interim guidance on wind farms," he said.Let's say Wiebe's quote another way: "We had the whole playground to ourselves and were having a good old time. Once we were forced to be democratic and deal with other point of views, the game changed." What he was involved with was not a healthy decision-making process; it was an unhealthy dictate-making process.
The same afternoon, a supervisor in the Fish and Wildlife Service's Sacramento office ordered agency biologists to halt public participation in the Altamont permitting process.
"Effective immediately," Field Supervisor Wayne White instructed the biologists, "no one from this office will meet with anyone or discuss over the phone our biological views of issues associated with the Altamont wind farm."
Two months after the meeting, agency biologists were once again allowed to interact with industry and state officials in the permitting process. That happened only after a wind-industry group and local officials formally requested their participation.
But Richard Wiebe, San Francisco attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity, one of the groups challenging the Altamont wind permits, said federal wildlife service involvement has not been the same since the October meeting with Pombo's staff.
"At the very least, it has poured a big tub of molasses into the decision-making process," Wiebe said.
And, what is not pointed out at all by the aptly named LAT reporter, Rone Tempest, Pombo's parents weren't the only wind farmers that needed representation in this one-sided negotiation. The wind industry doesn't just represent wind farmers, it represents the interests of people who benefit from supplemental energy sources. It isn't out to kill birds, either. It just doesn't want the wind farm industry to be killed by over-regulation while it moves towards new designs that protect birds.