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Wednesday, 22 July 2009 18:42

The Naturalist's Corner

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Up in the air

Western North Carolina senators Joe Sam Queen, Martin Nesbitt and John Snow might be wishing they had a wind turbine to cool down some of the heat they’ve been taking for throwing a kink into plans that would pave the way for utility-scale wind farms along the ridge tops of Western North Carolina. By the time you read this, western senators will have received another barrage of point and click emails from groups like AIRE (Appalachian Institute for Renewable Energy) as there was a caucus on the issue yesterday, July 21.

AIRE’s Web site has the message:

“I support a wind permitting process for the mountains of North Carolina and therefore ask you NOT TO BAN wind energy development in Western North Carolina. Please help our state move forward with green energy and jobs.

I respectfully ask the following:

(1) restore the mountain permitting language in the original Senate Bill 1068

(2) keep the addition in the PCS version directing the permitting agency to render a determination on a permit application with in 150 days of the receipt of a completed application.”

After you add your name and address all you do is click “Send My Message!” and the Website promises to, “We will add your signature from the information you provide.”

So when you see the newspaper accounts of the thousands of emails senators received regarding Senate bill s-1068 you will have an idea of where and how they originated.

I find one aspect of this a little bit troubling. Now I know with AIRE’s close relationship to Appalachian State University they have access to legal acumen much greater than mine. But if they are a 501(c) 3 (SOSID 1100892), doesn’t the IRS prohibit any, “... attempt to influence legislation as a substantial part of its activities ...?”

There are a couple of other aspects of Senate Bill 1068 that are also a bit unsettling to me. Remember when then Vice President Dick Cheney created his Energy Task Force? Environmental organizations across the country were up in arms because the people he had chosen to create the administration’s energy policies were — gasp — “Big Energy” players.

Was that the pot calling the kettle black? According to the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, the language for Senate Bill 1068 was written by the Wind Energy Technical Advisory Group.

And what about the corporate camel’s nose in the tent? Surely no one has entertained the idea that if they get the OK to build on this minuscule 5 percent of good wind sites it might pave the way for expansion in the future.

I remember when I heard about Thomas Berry’s death I looked over some of my favorite quotes of his, and these developments bring this to mind. Berry was talking about the “green” movement, I substituted wind for solar: “... We can’t survive without using what’s around us but we have to do it in such a way that we recognize this mystique of the community of the Earth ... So, even if we use wind energy, without some mystique of the Sun and the Earth, it won’t work.”

Don Hendershot can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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