Wednesday, April 28, 2010

First U.S. offshore wind farm approval a wake up call for Michigan policy makers

The nation’s first offshore wind farm is on its way to reality in Cape Cod after federal approval announced today:

The Michigan Environmental Council says the Cape Cod decision should be a wake up call for Michigan legislators to get busy creating strong and sensible guidelines for wind farms in the Great Lakes:

In Michigan, no offshore wind projects have been formally proposed. But informal plans have already mobilized plenty of opposition from local who would rather not see turbines in their Great Lakes. Many of these NIMBY (not in my backyard) groups have adopted “environmental” names and themes. But I think it’s important to point out that, to my knowledge, no established Michigan environmental organization opposes wind turbines in the Great Lakes.

Most environmental groups, even Scenic Michigan recognize that there are viewscapes, sensitive ecological areas and special places where turbines should not be permitted. But, overall, they serve the greater good.

We tolerate ugly overhead power lines, chunks of land marred by electric substations, and junction boxes in our neighborhoods as the tradeoff for reliable, cheap electricity from coal. We can tolerate turbines in some areas of the Great Lakes for the same reason – with the added advantage that turbines have none of the coal pollution that sickens our children, poisons our air, makes our fish unsafe to eat and changes our climate.

The Cape Wind project overcame NIMBY resistance from the powerful Kennedy family. The Kennedys are typically strong environmental advocates. But just not in their backyard, one supposes.

The decision is one more step in the slow but steady progression of sensible energy policy in the U.S.

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