American Towns Don’t Want To Be Big Cities’ ‘Green Energy’ Graveyards By Vince Bielski for The Federalist
From New York to California, local opposition is thwarting wind and solar projects seen as essential to transitioning from fossil fuels.
While the coronavirus recession has sapped demand for energy and put fracking companies on the ropes – with hundreds of bankruptcies declared so far – the renewables that would replace oil and coal are facing a growing challenge that will last long after the pandemic: The resistance of rural communities to mammoth solar or wind farms that can power cities.
From New York to California, local opposition is thwarting wind and solar projects seen as essential to transitioning from fossil fuels. Many opponents support renewable energy in theory and express concern about climate change. And many landowners have partnered with environmental groups to block or delay natural gas pipelines designed to run through their property.
But enough of them just can’t stomach the outsize “green” projects themselves – wind farms with 500-foot-tall turbines (around the height of the United Nations Secretariat Building) and solar spreads covering many square miles that forever change the idyllic look of rural communities and threaten pristine desert habitat.
The opposition has been brewing for years and now poses a threat to states with plans to rapidly accelerate the buildout to meet ambitious renewable energy goals by 2030. The backlash is powerful because it’s coming from across the political and economic spectrum, including professionals, environmentalists, farmers, activists, and concerned parents.
“The opposition has become a serious impediment to New York meeting its clean energy goals,” says Michael Gerrard, a professor at Columbia Law School specializing in environmental and energy regulation.
A key problem is that while many governors have lofty targets – for example, Andrew Cuomo’s call for renewables to meet 70 percent of New York’s energy needs by 2030 – working out the nitty-gritty with power companies often falls to rural counties with little or no experience regulating complex industrial projects.