It was reported this week that Interior Secretary Ken Salazar is approving the first offshore wind farm in America, the Cape Wind Project off the coast from Cape Cod. America is far behind both Europe and China in utilizing the energy potential from offshore wind plants and hopefully we are now getting on board this clean source of energy.
Opponents argue that such wind farms can harm fish and birds, but are these opponents considering the constant threat to wildlife from offshore oil rigs? Right now in the Gulf of Mexico an estimated 42,000 gallons of oil are leaking daily after the explosion of the rig Deepwater Horizon that left 11 people missing and presumed dead. The oil slick has a circumference of about 600 miles and covers about 28,600 sq miles. As of Wednesday the slick was about 20 miles off the coast of Louisiana. If we want to talk about harming fish and birds this is really devastating and the long term effects will be significant even once it stops leaking. Now there is talk about setting it on fire to stop it from spreading, which will do additional harm to the environment, although it could wind up saving birds since the oil will burn up. It is time to take a realistic look at the constant danger that offshore oil rigs pose, realize that wind farms offer a much better alternative, and utilize the wind as an inexhaustible resource.
In the world of energy development everything has a downside but some of the alternatives are so much less harmful than what we have been using for decades and it is time for a change. Interior Secretary Salazar said the project would create 1,000 construction jobs and produce the energy equivalent to that of a medium-sized coal-fired power plant. He said it would reduce carbon emissions by the equivalent of 175,000 cars. These are only some of the facts that make a wind farm a much more attractive alternative to coal and oil.
One of the stumbling blocks I believe to more offshore wind development is the “not in my backyard” mentality that often plagues America. Much of the mining and refining of coal, and even the coal plants, are in less economically advantaged parts of the country and the people living in these areas have been subjected to the pollution created from the use of coal in providing much of America’s electricity. Unfortunately this scenario exists in many fields, the poor are paying the costs with their health, their environment, their traditional way of life and often their lives to give the rest of the country so-called cheap energy. But this is not cheap energy, it comes with a huge price tag for local residents and the clean up of polluted areas comes from tax dollars, not the profits of the companies-so in the end we all pay. Usually coastal areas are occupied by the more affluent who have been able to use their influence to stop this and other projects from being considered. Even the late Senator Kennedy opposed the Cape WInd project…the view from his home would have overlooked the project, could this have been the real reason for his opposition?
It is time to recognize that we need to really move into the 21st century and take advantage of all of the great technology that already exists to provide for our needs in a more sustainable way. Let’s support clean energy and the movement away from fossil fuels, this is something that effects all of us. Let your representatives and the President know that you support offshore wind projects, solar and other green, alternative energy projects rather than increasing offshore oil production as recently proposed.