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Guest Commentary by Mike Roselle - Wind Growers and The Rainbow Warriors

May 12, 2006

Wind Growers and The Rainbow Warriors

Guest Commentary by Mike Roselle

Last month the Cape Wind project on Nantucket Sound was dealt a major setback when congress gave vocal opponent and Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney the authority to kill the controversial project. The proposed power plant is an expansive industrial complex of 130-massive turbines and a ten-story substation that would spread across 24-square miles of the Sound. Greenpeace, as we have reported here, is spending big money promoting this project, and attacking anyone who is against it. On August 17, several courageous Greenpeace activists challenged the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound in the cold, choppy, shark-infested waters off of Martha's Vineyard. The Alliance was sponsoring a Save the Sound event with Bobby Kennedy of the Natural Resource Defense Council. Kennedy was on his yacht when two Greenpeace boats pulled alongside with a banner reading "Bobby You Are On The Wrong Boat."

Bobby was in a sailboat.

The Greenpeacers were in high-speed motorboats. I am not making this up.

No doubt the protestors endured a serious pummeling under a heavy barrage of tasty hors d'oeuvres launched from the deck of the larger vessel. And true to their non-violent tradition, Greenpeace refrained from responding in kind, even though they were well supplied with granola bars.

Susan Nickerson, Executive Director of the Alliance, suggested that Greenpeace is being hypocritical in supporting this project. "Greenpeace has opposed an offshore wind plant in Scotland over concerns that endangered birds could be slaughtered by the blades on these turbines," said Nickerson. "We have a similar concern here over roseate terns and other endangered species, but apparently that is of little concern to Greenpeace." According to a press release from the Alliance, Greenpeace has opposed the Lewis Wind Farm in Scotland over concerns for endangered bird populations and because not enough is known about the project's potential avian impact. Again, according to the Alliance, "Greenpeace has stated that the Lewis project was being led by money rather than the needs of the environment."
 
There was no mention of Greenpeace's position on the Lewis Wind Farm in the Wind power section of the Greenpeace USA website. But a web search did reveal many stories about Greenpeace's opposition to the Lewis Wind Farm. A quote in The Scotsman by Greenpeace UK puts it bluntly, "Although it is a staunch advocate of renewable forms of power generation, including wind, the environmental organization believes that the proposal to build the world's biggest wind farm on the island, producing 700 megawatts of electricity, will have a negative impact on populations of rare and protected birds, including golden eagles."

Greenpeace says the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound is a front group for a bunch of wealthy landowners who don't want to have to look at windmills from their multi-million dollar houses on Martha's Vineyard. I have looked at both of their websites. Greenpeace dismisses the Alliance as an evil incarnate and spends hundreds of words describing how they used doctored photos and maps, as well as unproven claims to alarm the citizens about the environmental impacts of this massive project. They claim the Alliance is nothing but a well-funded, pro-industry public relations machine masquerading as an environmental group. The Alliance counters by saying they are just local people trying to protect wildlife, recreation and the local lifestyle. I am not trying to get laughs here, but this whole picture is so ridiculous that I am getting more and more pissed off about it by the nanosecond.

First, Greenpeace used to be a scrappy environmental group that took on the worst of the earth destroyers. Now they are trying to force an alternative technology on a town that doesn't seem to want it. Are there no better sites to put 300 windmills on without getting in a public pissing match with RFK Jr.? I have received many responses to my recent comments against the Cape Wind project and not one person has said they support it. But what makes me really angry is that this is what Greenpeace considers an effective Global Warming campaign. Send us your money and we will put on our survival suits, get in our rubber boats and go risk our lives confronting the mighty earth destroyer Bobby Kennedy. Meanwhile, cloistered in their Chinatown offices in the Nation's capitol, they are doing nothing to stop strip mining and Mountaintop Removal in the Southern Appalachians, or against any of the hundreds of really bad energy projects that will cancel out any good their wind farm would accomplish even if they do succeed in getting it built.

While it is important to slow global warming, it is misleading to say that these kinds of projects will significantly reduce carbon emissions. Among the more practical and less costly ways to achieve CO2 reductions without sacrificing wildlife habitat and open spaces are energy efficiency and conservation. A strictly enforced fifty-five mile-an-hour speed limit would save more energy than a hundred new wind farms. And while we need new sources of cleaner energy, no new system that seeks to replace fossil fuels can meet this growing energy demand. We would have to cover the Earth with windmills. We need to address growth, not only population growth, but also the growth in demand for all natural resources. Surely the fact that we have saturated our atmosphere with our toxic gaseous wastes means that we have exceeded our limits.

In his excellent history, Greenpeace, An Insiders Account, Rex Weyler captured the passion and courage of what has been one of the most important environmental organizations since the founding of the Sierra Club by John Muir. For me, the hardest part of reading Weyler's book was to see the stark contrast in how the organization used to respond to global environmental threats like nuclear weapons, ocean dumping, Arctic and Amazon development, and whaling -- and how they respond now. How can you compare harassing Bobby on his sailboat with hiking or sailing into a nuclear bomb test, or getting between a whale and a whalers harpoon, or to fighting illegal logging in the Amazon?

Maybe I'm getting cantankerous in my old age. It does no good for one environmentalist to go after another in public. But whether you like him or not, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is an environmentalist and Greenpeace and the Breakthrough Institute are going after him. The Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound may be a front group for a bunch of rich people, but they are an environmental group nonetheless, just as much as the Pew Foundation or Ted Turner, the Beastie Boys or any other group of wealthy donors. Nowhere in the Alliance web page is there a link to the sites of the nuclear or coal industries. Or to any other suspect websites. In spite of what must have been an exhaustive investigation into the financial backers of the Alliance, all Greenpeace has uncovered to date is that they do indeed seem to be a bunch of rich people trying to protect their million-dollar views.

And yes, they have photo shop and are not afraid to use it.

If we apply Greenpeace logic to every environmental organization in the USA, then rich people fund us all. All of us want to protect our wildlife habitat, our view sheds, our recreation opportunities, and our local culture. Not all of us want a big wind farm in our neighborhood. We have plenty of good sites for wind farms here in Montana and they are building new ones every day. We also have lots of rich people and more are coming every day. So, Martha's Vineyard, Greenpeace and Kennedy, we will make you a deal, we will take your windmills if you will take our rich people.

Mike Roselle was one of the three co-founders of Earthfirst! He was also a campaign director for Greenpeace for many years.


 

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